Family Worship


Family worship is the regular use of Scripture, song, and prayer by a family unit, guided by the head of the household. Family worship is not merely a religious discipline. This is not about circumventing the regular church worship times. Family worship does not replace the worship of the gathered people of God any “way, shape, form or fashion”. It is in addition to and the foundation of gathered time on Sunday. Worshipping families make worshipful congregations. It is our families meeting with God by means of three key ingredients. 

1.      Reading. When we read the Bible, God speaks to us about Himself and the gift of His Son Jesus Christ Who was sent into a needy world to save men and women from their sins. This message is not just for information, but for inspiration.

2.      Prayer. Since prayer is the chief way in which we show thankfulness to God our prayers must be worshipful, and in response to how God has revealed Himself in what we read in Step 1.

3.      Singing. It is inescapable: God’s people sing! The New Testament call to admonish one another through song applies well in the context of the home (Col. 3:16). Our singing is also a response of worship to how God revealed Himself in Step 1.


  1. What better way to speak the gospel into your children’s lives every day?
  2. What better way to provide a regular time for your children to learn the things of God from you?
  3. What better way to provide your children with an ongoing opportunity to ask about the things of God in a comfortable context?
  4. What better way for you to transmit your core beliefs to your children? REMEMBER: Biblically it is ultimately the job of the parents to transmit their faith to their children (Deut. 6:6-7; Psalm 78; Proverbs 4, 2 Tim. 1:4-5, 3:15; Eph. 6:1-4)
  5. What better way for your children to see the ongoing, positive spiritual example of their parents in real life?
  6. What better way to provide workable, reproducible examples to your children of how to have a distinctively Christian home when they start a home of their own?
  7. What better way for getting your family together on a daily basis?

adapted from Family Worship by Donald S. Whitney


1.      Use our church-wide Bible reading plan (emailed daily)

2.      Use past sermon notes

3.      Use a devotional book

4.      Use a catechism

5.      Share what God has laid on your heart from a particular Scripture passage.

6.      Read a paragraph out of a book written by a Christian author that discusses a Scripture passage,

7.      The options are limitless.


Find the Best Time

This is trial and error, but most families function better at certain times during the day than others. Some children (and parents!) do not do well in the early morning hours. They are tired and grouchy. If that is the case in your home, then don’t try and do family worship at that time. Try different times of the day and see what works best for everyone. Every family is different.

Meet at the Same Time

If we don’t pencil in the things that matter the most, they often get neglected and suffer at the expense of other things in our life. Family worship must be scheduled. That does not mean that it has to be at 6 p.m. every night. It is a “semi-fixed” time. There are some nights that dinner isn’t over by 6 p.m. Don’t be rigid, but do have a consistent and routine time that your family knows they will be gathering for worship.

Meet in the Same Place

Some families gather around the kitchen or dining room table. Others may choose to sit in the living room or on the back porch. It doesn’t really matter where you do family worship. It just helps if the “where” is consistent in your home. This is especially helpful for young children. Children thrive in the known and regular.

Start Slow

We are beginning the process of returning the church to this necessary discipline. Hopefully our children will be able to take it a step farther, but for most of us this is a new thing. Therefore, do not expect too much too early or even expect too much from your family in the long run. Many heads of homes (especially fathers) will be convicted about the need for family worship and begin to lead their families in it with too much zeal. Fathers, don’t ask your children to start memorizing Leviticus in the first few weeks of family worship! Just start by reading a small portion of Scripture, praying a short prayer, and singing a song. As everyone in the family grows in worshiping together there will be the ability and desire to make it fuller.

Make It Brief

Family worship should not be a burden, and many times we make it a burden by making it too long. Young families especially need to keep this in mind due to their children. Those just beginning family worship would also be well-advised to keep it short. It is amazing how much quality worship can take place in 10 or 15 minutes. The length of time of our family worship is not a commentary on our family’s maturity in the faith. Longer doesn’t always mean better.

Make It a Priority

It must be a priority in the home. This means that we can’t allow other activities to fill our schedules. A family that is seldom home together is a family that cannot worship together. Reading the Bible on the way to gymnastics or soccer practice does not count! The modern-day Christian needs to hear this: busyness (even with church activities) does not equal godliness.

Be Flexible

Having argued for the importance of establishing a time for family worship, we must underscore the importance of being flexible in our approach to family worship. There will be days when it just doesn’t work. If this is a regular occurrence, then we may need to adjust when we are having family worship or where we are having it. However, some days it just won’t work at all. That is fine! It is a means of grace, not a burden that our family is to struggle under.

Model the Right Attitude

Our attitudes have a lot to do with our experiences. And others are always watching our attitudes. Husbands should model the right attitude before their wives, and parents should model the right attitude before their children. Children are incredibly intuitive. They know when mom and dad are going through the motions or begrudgingly calling the family together in worship. It is quite another thing altogether when mom and dad talk about looking forward to worship and exercise a consistent joy and desire for family worship.


Maybe the most important advice for family worship is to persevere in it. There will be moments and even weeks where it seems like a chore and that little fruit is being born: your toddler has trouble sitting still, your teenager complains every night, or the tune keeps getting lost in the middle of singing. Just keep going! You are not alone, and your situation is not unique. Just keep gathering with your family in worship. Perseverance is the best remedy for all these ills. Over the course of time, most of these struggles will be overcome, and fruit that was invisible at the time will begin to show itself in the future.

adapted from The Gospel Coalition