One of our core values at Christ Church is investing in the next generation. I thank God for all the volunteers who are committed to building relationships with our kids and teaching them about Jesus. One of my favorite things to do during our Sunday service is watch our kids engage in our community and to see so many people taking an interest in them.
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psa 145:4 ESV)
The key to impacting the next generation, though, is not what takes place on Sunday, but what takes place in the home Monday-Saturday. There is nothing more vital for the sober task of parenting then developing a regular rhythm of family worship. If that has been a struggle for you, or is something unfamiliar to you, here are a few thoughts to get you started.
1. Keep it simple
If you have a skill with making puppets, doing crafts and creating songs that reinforce biblical truths, kudos to you. Use those to bless your kids and I’m sure it will be wonderful. But if you are an ordinary and uncreative parent like me, I think it is really important to remember that God’s word is sufficient and powerful.
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2Ti 3:16-17 ESV)
Use a resource that will help you simply open God’s word with your family.
2. Be consistent
We teach our kids what is important through how we spend our time. A sporadic time of family worship teaches that we just fit God in wherever we can. Develop a realistic rhythm that you can consistently keep and then make that a non negotiable part of your daily schedule.
3. Be evangelistic
If all we do is try to fill our kids minds with facts, we are wasting our time. We must engage their hearts. Lead your kids in being reflective, share personally from your own life, ask questions, encourage them to come up with their own questions. Also, don’t expect your child to love every second of it. Not only are they kids and probably always restless, they are also unregenerate. Have compassion and mercy. Be patient. One day, by the grace of God, this time will become sweet to them. However, don’t be discouraged if right now it isn’t. Just keep sharing Christ with them through scripture.
Here’s what this looks like in the Boettcher household. We don’t do this perfectly and are constantly refining our approach. However, hopefully this gives you an idea to spur your own thinking for your family.
We are currently going through Long Story Short by Marty Machowski. He has activities with most lessons, but we haven’t been able to fit them in. I just read the scripture and then go through the questions with the kids. Takes about 10 minutes. Each child then prays for the day and I pray for our family. Getting them to pray is a great way for me to hear what is on their hearts and know what I should be following up with them about one on one.
First, we always have dinner as a family. No toys, phones, devices, or TV allowed. Dinner goes for about 30 minutes and is just us talking about our day. Each person answers the question, “What’s the best thing that God did for you today?” We are trying to create an awareness of how God is always at work and instill a discipline of gratitude no matter how hard the day was. Each kid also takes out two prayer requests from our prayer jar. Our prayer jar is simply a small jar with little slips of paper in it about things that we are praying for as a family. Prayer requests range from things going on in our church to church plants around the world, to specific family requests or requests from friends. This prayer time takes about 5 minutes.
We have two versions of our bedtime routine. Business bedtime and extended bedtime. Business bedtime takes about 5 minutes. We just put our kids in bed and pray for them and recite Psalm 23 together. Our goal is to move on to another Psalm after our kids master that one. Extended bedtime takes closer to 15 minutes and includes a story, usually made up by me, prayer, Psalm 23 and a few songs (Amazing Grace and Jesus Paid It All are our staples, but we mix in others as well).
That’s it. Not very impressive. I’m sure many of you have better ideas. Our goal right now is just consistency and engagement. God works through faithfulness over time. So that is what we are focusing on and seeking to be diligent about. Now maybe even thinking of trying to get 15 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes at dinner and 15 minutes at bedtime is overwhelming. If that’s you, then my encouragement would be to just start somewhere and build up from there. However, I would challenge all of us to remember that our busyness is our choice. If you think you just don’t have the time to give to family worship, then ask yourself this, “what it is that you think is more important than investing in your family’s spiritual life” That’s a pretty challenging question, but I think we should feel challenged. I work around 55-65 hours every week with a very full travel schedule on top of that, so I’m not immune from feeling pressed for time. I know that I need to be challenged to make this time a priority. And I know that if a regular guy like me can do it, then you can do it too.
So start somewhere. Grow from there. Focus on faithfulness over time.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Pro 22:6 ESV)
Grace and peace,