A Word From Pastor Errol

Dear Brother in Christ,

                I think the subject of family worship (some call it family devotions) is rather intimidating for most men.  I am writing this letter to encourage you that

FAMILY WORSHIP:

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

                In this short letter I am going to share four things with you.  The first thing I want to share is the list of simple ingredients of family worship.  The second is the importance of making it enjoyable.  The third is about when and how often.  And the fourth, which I am saving for last, is, “the hardest thing about having family devotions.”  So here goes!

#1  SIMPLE INGREDIENTS: READ, TALK, PRAY, AND SING

There are only four basic ingredients to family worship. 

                The first is to READ.  Of course the best thing to read is the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot also read other biblical literature.  Just don’t make the mistake of reading something that is not Christian, thinking that you are leading your family in a time of worship.  Sitting the family down for a short reading is not hard.  Listen,

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

                The second ingredient is TALK.  Talk a little bit about what you read.  This is how you connect the lesson in the reading with real life.  One of the best ways to get the family to talk is to ask them questions.  Don’t ask “yes or no” questions.  That doesn’t do much to generate conversation.  Instead, ask what they think, or how they feel about what was read.  Follow up with “why” questions.  “Why do you feel that way?”  Ask if anyone has an example of being in a similar situation.  Ask how they felt or what they did when they were facing a similar circumstance.  Again, the idea is to get the family talking with the goal in mind of making some application.  Don’t be afraid.

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

                The third ingredient is PRAY.  If your family is already pretty good at group prayer, you are ready to go.  If you are less comfortable, here are some tips that may help you and your family relax.  Use the ACTS acrostic.  Start with Adoration.  Ask each person to finish this sentence: “Lord I love You because…”  Instruct your family members to think about one attribute of God that makes Him different from people.  Examples include God’s holiness, power, perfect knowledge, everywhere-presence, or eternality. 

                Next is Confession.  Ask each person to finish this sentence: “God please forgive me for…”  Remind your family that God always forgives our sins and that we are commanded in 1 John 1:8-9 to confess our sins on a regular basis. 

                Third is Thanksgiving.  Tell everyone to finish this sentence: “God thank You for…”  This is different from Adoration.  Adoration is about who God is, Thanksgiving is for what God does

                Last is Supplication (our requests).  Instruct each family member to finish the sentence: “God I ask you to…”  Have each family member do this one twice, once asking for something for someone else, and once asking for something for themselves.  Coach little ones about asking for things that are according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15).  Younger children will need more coaching.  Older children will need less.  Prayer time need not be long or complicated.  Just spend some time as a family, talking with God.

                The fourth ingredient is SING.  I know that this is a show stopper for many families.  Let me remind you that the longest book in the Bible is the Psalms, God’s songbook.  This tells us something about God’s priority on this, don’t you think?  Do not be afraid to sing with your kids.  You don’t have to sing well, loud, or long.  Sing simple choruses that everyone knows.  Sing songs out of the church song book.  Ask the kids to teach you a song they learned in Sunday School.  Sing along with recorded music on a CD if you lack the confidence to sing a cappella.  The more you sing as a family, the more you and your family will sing when you are at church!

                There are only four ingredients.  Each is important.  Leave any one of them out and something will be missing!  And remember,

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

#2  THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING IT ENJOYABLE

You don’t want your children to dread family worship, do you?  Then commit yourself to making it a time the family looks forward to.  The key to accomplishing this is to remember what it is like to be a kid.  Lead your family in a time of worship mixing all four of the ingredients listed above in an “age appropriate” manner.  That simply means understand that younger kids cannot sit for, and engage in family worship that is as deep, or lasts as long, as older children can.  All kids can learn to sit still and pay attention, but you have to train them a little at a time.

                If your children represent a variety of age groups, you’ll have to be a bit more creative.  One way is to enlist the help of the older children in leading the younger ones.  You can think of how to say the same thing in two or more ways so that each age group represented by your children can understand and participate.  Most often, you’ll have to cater to the younger ones more than to the older ones. 

                Be careful not to substitute a “family night” of games and or movies in place of spiritual worship and devotions in your quest to be fun.  Be fun, but remember the point.  Movies and games are something different for another time.

                As your family grows, you’ll discover the joy of growing deeper in the things of the Lord as they are able.  My family started with five minutes before bed time when the children were young.  As they became adults, we enjoy currently whole evenings of reading, discussion, singing, and prayer!

                You can do other things to make the time special.  Let all the children have a favorite hot or cold drink (depending on the season) during the reading time.  Have a favorite dessert afterward.  Play a game together when you are through.  These are incentives to teach the children to look forward to this special time as a family with the Lord.  This requires some creativity and sensitivity (a couple of things we guys are often a bit short on), but hey,

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

#3  WHEN AND HOW OFTEN?

The ideal is to lead your family in some kind of spiritual exercise every day, but let’s be realistic.  Few families are going to engage in a formal time of worship every day.  So let me suggest a starting point.  Pray with your children before they go to bed as many nights per week as you are home to do it, and set aside one evening each week for a more formal time of devotions.  Commit to doing this and try to do it on the same night every week, establishing a “no-fly-zone” on your special night on which only something that is vitally important is allowed to get in the way.  And then, if possible, agree on an alternate night for that week so you don’t lose momentum!  (By the way, a chance to go to a friend’s house, etc., is not vitally important!)  Commit to turning off the TV and the computer.  Tell the children to plan their homework around your family’s specially reserved time with the Lord.

                If you can set aside more than one night per week, great!  Just don’t start by setting yourself up for failure (and disappointment) with an unattainable goal.  Start with the starting point I just suggested and when that is pretty well established, think about adding a second night, and then someday a third, etc.

                There will be times when you miss, even for lame reasons.  Don’t beat yourself up about it, just get started again—right away!  I know that everyone is busy, but we all make the time to do the things we really deem to be important. 

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

#4  THE HARDEST THING ABOUT HAVING FAMILY WORSHIP.

Here it is guys.  Ready? 

                Getting started.  That’s right, the hardest thing about having family devotions is getting started.  Some of you maybe don’t get started because you are not convinced that this is important.  If you really believe that, I’m sad for you.  I pray you’ll change your mind.  Some may not get started because you have known this is a good thing for a long time, but since you have been putting it off for so long, you aren’t sure how to begin.  Here’s how. 

                Begin this week.  Others may have started and stopped doing this before (maybe a number of times) and you are embarrassed before your family about your inconsistency.  Here’s what you can do.  Gather your family and tell them that this is important, and that you know the family has started and stopped in the past.  Confess to your children that this is your responsibility, ask them to forgive you for not being consistent, and ask them to pray for you as you begin again.  You can even enlist their help to remind you.  Now to some guys this sounds like weakness.  Brother, believe me when I tell you, if you do this, your family will not see weakness, they will see strength.

                Whatever the reason you have had, or are having a difficult time getting started with family worship, let me assure you,

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

ONE LAST THING.  If you want some personal help, ask! I’ am happy to coach you and we am willing to come to your house and lead your family some time to get you started.  I am here to help you be the spiritual leaders in your homes that God has called you to be. 

YOU CAN DO THIS!  IT ISN’T ROCKET SCIENCE!

Your brother,
Errol