Today, we conclude a three part series on family worship. It is our hope that this series serves as a practical example that encourages you to continue—or begin—what should be a joyous daily privilege for all Christian families.
In part 1, R.C. Sproul Jr. shared how his family addressed timing, being with guests and being away from home, and catechism memory work. In part 2, he explored the topics of Scripture memory, Scripture reading, and prayer. In this final post, he describes how his family sings together and then answers two common objections to family worship.
Then we move into singing. Again, the children are invited to participate by choosing what we are going to sing. We sing the service music from our church's liturgy. We sing the Gloria Patri. We sing the Doxology. We sing the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed. We sing the Song of Simeon, which is how our church closes its service.
Let me tell you about something that is even more practical. When visitors to Saint Peter Church try to find the nursery, we tell them we do have a nursery, but we hope they won't mind serving in the nursery on that particular day. We assure them that if they'll look after their children, we'll be fine. You see, we worship together—parents and children. Visitors are afraid and puzzled about this. They think, "What kind of weird thing is this?" Then, when we in the congregation stand to confess our faith together and little two- and three-year-olds ardently recite the Apostles' Creed, suddenly our visitors see the beauty of it.
We let our children pick the songs they want to sing. We do have one rule—only one child's song a night. Reilly always wants to sing "Hallelu." I'll ask, "What do you want to sing tonight, Reilly?" and he'll say, "Hallelu." It's a very simple song: "Hallelu, hallelu, hallelu, hallelujah, praise ye the Lord!" We divide the family in half, and half of them are the "hallelus" and half of them are the "praise ye the Lords," then after the first verse we switch and do it faster. But we sing only one of these a night.
That's it. It's not complicated. It's not time-consuming. It's not a duty. It's a joy, a delight.
What If I Haven't Been Doing Family Worship?
At this point, you fathers might be thinking, "OK, R. C., I see this. I see that I ought to do this. I see how to do it. But what do I do about the fact that I haven't been doing this?" Here's what you do: Gather your family together, sit them down, and then tell them that you are sorry for failing them in this way. Show them what repentance looks like. Then tell them that Jesus Christ came to suffer the wrath of God the Father for failures such as this. Give thanks for that provision. Pray in thanksgiving for that forgiveness. Then sing in thanksgiving for that forgiveness. That is day one. If you have done this in the past and have fallen out of the habit, simply follow the same instructions.
But I'm Too Busy for Family Worship
But if you are too busy, here is what I want you to do: stop being too busy! What could possibly be more important? The God of heaven and earth, the self-existent, transcendent, holy God, is inviting you to walk with Him in the cool of the evening. Will you say to Him, "Thanks for the invitation, Lord, but I've got my bowling league tonight." Would you tell Him, "I'd love to meet with You tonight, but I have a meeting with someone important." No one is too busy to draw near to the living God. No one is too busy to give up the less important, the less rewarding, and the less joyful for the source of all joy.
The glory of the gospel is that the high, transcendent, exultant God, because of the work of Christ, has drawn near to us and to our children, and will continue to do so. Therefore, don't do this in order to be holy. Do it to be happy. In the end, it's the same thing. Our austere pursuit of personal holiness doesn't impress God one bit. But God delights when we delight in Him. Bring the children; suffer the children to come unto Him (Matt. 19:14). Do this so that you might glorify and enjoy Him now, for this is what we will be doing forever.
This series has been adapted from material in R.C. Sproul Jr.'s contribution to Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God.
If you'd like more resources to assist you in the area of family worship, please consider:
- Family Worship (Paperback) by Joel Beeke
- God's Alphabet for Life: Devotions for Young Children (Paperback) by Joel Beeke
- Tabletalk Magazine
- The Case for Family Worship (Hardcover) by George Hamond
- Train Up Your Children (Video) by R.C. Sproul Jr.
- The Heidelberg Catechism (Paperback)
- The Reformation Study Bible
- The Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (Hardcover)
- Trinity Hymnal (Hardcover)