United Methodist Communications recently posted eight tips on how to have regular, in home, family worship. Family worship is setting apart a time of the day or week for your household to actively focus on God. While the article is geared to families with children in the home the following tips can easily be adapted to adult families or incorporated into a visit with grandchildren. 8 Solid Tips
You don't have to know everything to lead. Parents don’t have to be Bible scholars or know all the answers to start a family worship time. You just need the willingness to lead your family and follow God's guidance.
Create a worship space in the house. This place should show the connection between Christ and the family. Praying and bonding together in this space will make it sacred.
Set a time for spiritual bonding. The time and length of family worship depend on the age and attention span of family members. If someone isn’t available, have a backup plan. Set a virtual prayer time (for example, at 6 p.m. remember to say a quick prayer with and for the family, no matter where you are). Be consistent about bonding at the same time and it will soon become a habit.
Challenge your family to a night without television. Even better, make it a “No Screen Night,” which excludes video games, computers and phones as well. This time can occur as often as a family determines (perhaps monthly or weekly). Blocking all distraction frees time for family worship, letter writing, board and active games, sports or general conversation and discussion. Mix up the activities, especially for younger children with short attention spans.
It won’t be long before family members look forward to the time and realize the most important things in life are free. Children will love the extra attention from their parents. Don’t be surprised if the stories of memories made from this time together get a little bigger each time they are told!
Work together on a community volunteer project. This is a chance to focus on others (and on what Jesus calls us to do) while spending time together. It's also a great teaching opportunity that will enrich the community and lives of others.
Parents can start by asking their pastor about community ministries that can use the family’s help.
Prepare. It doesn’t have to take a long time. Read a favorite Bible verse and think about the theme that you’d like to share. Cokesbury offers several family devotionals to help with this process. Develop a list of simple faith questions (e.g. Where have you seen God today? How do you think we can apply Sunday's sermon?) While watching a television show, plan to discuss, during a commercial, how one of the characters could have acted like Jesus.
Create a family gratitude journal to promote interaction.
Create a family gratitude journal using a hole punch and some ribbon. Keep the book in the family worship space. Each person is responsible for documenting at least one thing for which he or she is most grateful every day ... more than one is highly encouraged. Little ones can draw something special, cut out a picture or glue on something from nature that they found. Ideally, everyone will have something positive to share.
Provide examples on how to pray aloud. Discuss times and situations when it is appropriate to pray, such as before bed, before meals, upon waking, upon receiving good news, when worried or afraid, when you hear an emergency siren, when you hear bad news or when facing a problem with a friend or sibling.
I discovered a similar approach in a three part blog entitled “Discipling Children”. Part 2 gave the following pattern for developing a family devotional time during dinner.
Begin the mealtime with a song and a blessing. In the beginning adults will need to model this behavior. During the meal enjoy regular conversation but allow the questions below to guide the discussion:
· What is the best thing you saw today? (or that happened?)
· What was the saddest or worst thing?
· Where did you see God today?
· What was the hardest thing for you to do today? Were you able to do it? How or why?
· Did you do anything today that you feel was wrong? Describe or explain it. How did it make you feel afterwards? What can you do to make it right? What can you do to help you not do it again?
· Did you help anyone today? Describe or explain. How did it make you feel afterwards?
· How did God help you today?
· How can we pray for you?
· What can you do tomorrow to grow closer to God? (Make sure the answer is specific, make a note of it and follow up tomorrow)
· What can you do tomorrow to help someone else? (Make sure the answer is specific, make a note of it and follow up tomorrow)
Don’t use every question on the list. Pick a few to keep the conversation going. The purpose of the questions is to get your children to 1) reflect on the day’s events; 2) consider where they saw God at work; 3) how they might live more faithfully as Jesus followers; 4) what you can do to help them.
Close with prayer concerns and a prayer. In the beginning the parents will pray but as time goes on it is important to allow children to offer their own prayers. Over time they (and you) will become more comfortable and natural in their prayers.
The weeks leading into Thanksgiving are a perfect time to begin the discipline of family worship and devotions. Your family will be prepared to observe Thanksgiving as a standalone holiday, not “Black Friday Eve” or the kick off to the Christmas season. Following Thanksgiving you can keep the focus on Christ’s birth by observing Advent. There are many great resources for holiday and every day devotional time. Contact me in the church office or by email if you need help choosing something right for your family.
Grace and Peace!