Saturday, 13 February 2010

Family Worship

Family worship seems to me from my limited experience to be one of the "great omissions" of modern Christianity. I as going to say "Western", but I don't see it here in Kenya either.

By "family worship", I mean a time, daily (as far as possible), when the whole family (which might just be the married couple if they have no children or they have left home) gathers together to worship God. It could be at any time of day, though after one of the meal-times is the most natural as the family is often together then already.

I think it is hard to argue that every family ought to have family worship:
  • Are we meant only to worship God one day a week? Is that consistent with his worthiness, and his daily care for us?
  • God created the family as a fundamental unit in creation (there being only two others - church and state) - is it meant to not have organised times to return worship to him?
  • The book of Proverbs gives us an extended model of a father giving instruction to his son, in a comprehensive range of subjects. How can this happen without organised times?
  • The Bible explicitly commands, in both Testaments, fathers to ensure that their children have a comprehensive Christian education that is woven into the fabric of family life (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Ephesians 6:4). Is this really meant to happen by accident, and without routine worship? Can we really expect our children to learn the teachings of the Bible just by osmosis? If temporal learning needs 5 or 6 days a week of organised activity (whether at home-school or an outside school), how can godliness only need one?
  • The Old Testament festivals were family events (e.g. the Passover in Exodus 12); is it consistent with the greater glory of the New Covenant that New Covenant worship is meant to be solely for individuals and churches?
  • The ten commandments are addressed to family contexts (e.g. in particular the 4th) - is there really meant to be no formal family religion?
  • Can we really defend finding time for sport/TV/browsing the web or whatever your leisure/hobby is, but not for the worship of God?
"Worship" does necessarily mean a 90 minute formal service with 40 minute sermon, or whatever! It simply means reading the Scriptures, praying in praise, thanksgiving and request, and singing of psalms/hymns/spiritual songs. Incidentally, where there is family worship it seems to me that part of Biblical reformation of our family worship is to restore the element of singing (e.g. what is Psalm 127 for if it is not a family Psalm? Is it only meant to be sung outside the family?)

Where did family worship go? Historically, it used to be unquestioned and unquestionable amongst evangelical Christians of all stripes: there was simply no argument. Christians worship God, of course they do - and families are the most fundamental unit in society and hence a primary place where worship ought to be: of course they are! How could we lose such a fundamental part of our walk with God, and how can there be so little (to my knowledge) being said about it?

Have you ever heard a sermon, or read an article on the importance of family worship? Whence this silence? How to carry it out in practice of course is another topic - a practical matter that may need some guidance and help if it has never been done before. But carry it out, we must - if we want to see the kingdom of God advance, and not just a bare-bones Christianity limping and struggling on as it seems to do in much of the world today.

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