FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP

Gathering together for worship is an indispensable part of your family's spiritual life. But how?
By Monica Weeks
Many of us did not grow up in homes where we saw spiritual formation modeled. I was a freshman in college when the Lord awakened my heart to the good news of Jesus in my place. I quickly realized that my vertical relationship with Jesus had drastic impact on every horizontal relationship in my life.

When Stephen and I were newlyweds I had a hot temper as red as a cherry tomato {Praise Jesus I am being refined day by day} and boy did we know how to push one another’s buttons. We have to continually work at growing in Jesus together and make practical space in our marriage for that to happen. Then at the young age of 22, we found out I was pregnant with Charlotte. {SURPRISE!}

Living in a small rural town with little to no people our age the Lord used this season in my life of being “alone” to push me into a deeper walk with Him. I learned to read and study the Bible, pray bold and faith filled prayers, read variety of books on marriage and mothering, asked a handful of godly women to disciple me, listened to sermons while I drove to work and worked out my spiritual gifts in community and church.

Similarly, the COVID-19 crisis has pushed us out of our normal. It’s moved us back into our homes. We are in a season where if we intentionally choose to we could establish new spiritual habits in our families. The Spirit of the Living God goes with us and empowers us to lead our families well.

Your spiritual life is like a thermostat. My prayer in this short post is to create some warmth in your heart for more of Jesus in your personal life and that would lead you to regularly “kick on” to start or maintain healthy spiritual climate for your homes. Would you consider beginning a regular routine and practice of family worship? Family worship simply means purposefully taking some routine time to be with God as a family together. This could be once a day or a couple times a week.

4 Simple Practices for Family Worship
(If this is new to you,  don’t be discouraged. Just like an oak tree grows strong over years;
spiritual formation is a practice that takes time to cultivate.)

Read The Bible
We want to teach our kids to sit under and listen to God’s Word. His Word is alive and active. We are blessed with so many resources. I am going to share 4 resources that we have worked through over the years. All 4 of these cover the entire story of the Bible in big picture ways. They show us how all these stories connect to Jesus as the true Hero and King.

Bible Recommendations for Your Children:
  • The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
  • The Big Picture Storybook Bible by David Helm
  • The Gospel Story Bible by Marty Machowski
  • The Story of God for Kids by Brad Watson (ages 6+)

Read together. Keep it simple but be creative (act it out, draw a picture, make a craft)
 
Pray
We want to teach our kids to talk with their Father, the King of the Universe. It’s really important that we lead this in a way that is at their level. Smaller children, simpler and brief language. Prayer is teaching our children to talk to God and that He hears us!

During family worship, try different ways to incorporate prayer. Prayer cards {each day you pray for different person}, pray through the Fruit of the Spirit, pause and listen to the Spirit, or pray a verse you read. There are so many ways to pray the key is to make prayer a regular pattern in your family worship.

Our family walks through a few phrases that prompt our children in knowing how to pray.
  • God, you are AWESOME. {pray about who God is}
  • God, I am SORRY. {pray about where you have sinned}
  • God, I am THANKFUL. {pray and give thanks for what He has done}
  • God, HELP me. {pray 1 specific prayer you want God’s help in}

This model of prayer has given us a window into our kids heart and allows us to speak life when we see them growing in areas. Parents, you pray transparently as well in front of your children. They need to see your need for Christ’s work in your life too!

Resource: What Every Child Should Know About Prayer by Nancy Guthrie

Sing
I do not have a skill in song but my heart becomes happy as I sing to the King. Singing engages the memory, emotions, and understanding in a divine way. The Bible tells us over and over again to “sing to the Lord”. Our singing is not just a private activity; but it’s a public expression that we are the family of Christ. As a mom, one of my favorite parts of the Sunday Gathering is the whole family participating in worship together, young and old. You can learn simple songs full of rich truths that the church has sung for centuries. We use songs our church sings together (pull up Spotify or YouTube on your phone). Teach your kids to sing to the King!

Ideas for singing together:
  • Create your own family song book.
  • Get some homemade or household items and have your own worship band. Make a joyful noise.
  • Learn a new hymn each month. Start with the Doxology.
  • Sing the Psalms.
 
As You Go
Discipleship is much more than just an event that happens once or couple times a week, rather its a lifestyle and the leading of the Spirit. Your children are learning from you as you go through each day. Allow them to see you investing in your relationship with God. Share with them your own stories of God’s faithfulness as your walking to the park or driving to the store. When you feel thankful, say it out loud to them. When you feel anxious, invite your kids to pray with you as you ask God to carry that burden. When you sin against them {raise your voice or roll your eyes - personal struggles I am working on} or they sin against you, talk about confession, forgiveness and grace and allow this to move to a sweet moment of reconciliation. When your child shares something with you that you know is wrong. Rather than just being quick to correct and say “don’t say that” you may ask them “why did you choose to say that?”.  Allow your open- ended questions to lead to more discipling conversations. You know your kids better than anyone else. Relate things to their unique personalities. Use ordinary, everyday moments as grace moments to speak the good news of Jesus into their hearts.

Consistency, Not Perfection
We could raise our hands and feet to say there have been many days where family worship feels like a chore. Toddler won’t sit still, another child is complaining, and did we mention there are 357 household tasks that need to get done before we can go to sleep.  I can promise you the fruit that seems invisible at the time will mature over a length of time. We have been able to see some really sweet fruits of the Spirit developing in our own children’s lives. We read a passage together. We sing. We pray for one another, and for those in our church and community. We celebrate what God is doing. We laugh and cry together. Our faith is strengthened and we grow in deeper spiritual intimacy with God and one another. And as your family worship becomes a regular rhythm you will find your children will enjoy that special time and remind you about it. Remember, consistency is of such greater value than perfection. Cheering you on!

All is Grace,
Monica Weeks

Book Resources for Family Worship
  • Foundations: 12 Biblical Truths to Shape a Family by Troy and Ruth Chou Simmons
  • Parenting by David Paul Tripp
  • Family Worship by Donald Whitney
  • New City Catechism by Tim Keller
  • Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman
  • Risen Motherhood by Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler
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