It is very likely that you have heard of family Bible studies. I struggled for years to find a way to start this in our home. But even after we did, I was always left feeling that I was missing something.
Some time ago I came upon a ministry website called Titus2.com after seeing them featuring in a blog from Answers in Genesis. They produced material geared toward equipping families to biblically structure their homes. Of particular interest at that time was a guide to help manage family chores. My wife dove into this book and since then we have developed a very structured way of handling chores with the kids. Their site has a wealth of great information but the one that struck me the most was their CD set titled "Feed my sheep". In this CD, Steve Maxwell gives helpful hints and tips to develop consistent Bible study time in the home. At the end of the CD he allows you to listen in to a typical study time with his family in which they read verse by verse in John 3.
Then it hit me: expositional study time. I had fought my way through different types of studies and never even contemplated just reading verse by verse. Since we were already in the middle of a devotional study, we finished it over the following months and started looking for a book to begin with. I first contemplated John but it seemed that we were meant to study elsewhere for the time being. I eventually picked out 1 Samuel and we were off. The study proved to be very rewarding and it was a blessing seeing my children ask some pretty in depth questions. But there still seemed to be something missing.
I added a memory verse to our studies and we were amazed how quickly the kids were able to recite verses such as Isaiah 53:5, Ephesians 2:8-9; and Solomon's favorite Psalm 19:1. But again, something was lacking and I just couldn't put my finger on it.
It wasn't until I read a post talking about Family Worship. "Family worship? Never heard of it."
Without giving many details and strict how-to's, some of what I was finding and reading pointed to how the study time could be a full worship time for the family. For example, I had usually been the one to open our study time and sometimes my wife or one of the kids would want to close in prayer but we had not made prayer itself an integral part.
Another point I found I had missed was the blessing of songs in our time. My kids love to sing and have almost every song by the Go Fish guys memorized. My daughter is probably the most inclined to singing but the boys join in if they know the song.
This was one of those "slap to the forehead" moments. How had I missed such wonderful blessings as prayer and song? The first time I introduced these two new elements there were the anticipated brow furrows. "Daddy wants us to pray and sing?" But I had a plan.
My wife and I had previously assigned buddies for each kid. Whenever we were in a store, each of the kids was to pair up with their buddy and help them in whatever they needed. My oldest daughter, Savannah, was buddied with our youngest son Esaias. My oldest son, Elijah, had our second to the youngest son Solomon as his buddy. Our middle son Ephraim was given daddy as his buddy (he was rather elated, I am pleased to say). Daddy was assigned to both Ephraim and Mommy while Mommy was assigned to baby Silas (who is only about 6 weeks from being brought into this world). The last assignment was rather obvious since both Silas and Mommy were inseparable :^)
I decided that since we had the buddy system in place this pairing would serve as our prayer buddy system also. Each person is to pray for their buddy during our worship time and throughout the week. While they can pray for anyone else also, they focus more directly on their buddy. The kids have really enjoyed this and I think it has helped them to see the importance of prayer and truly loving their siblings. What a blessing it is to bow in prayer and hear each of our children lift their praises and petitions to God.
Prior to the prayer time though we break our a few hymnals, which we have borrowed from our church. Each night one child is assigned to pick out an opening hymn and a closing hymn while my wife and I help the younger ones. Since the latest Go Fish album "Kickin' it old school" is almost entirely hymns, the kids were already familiar with several ('This is my Father's world', 'Blessed Assurance', 'The Lord's Army', 'Before the throne of God above', 'I'll fly away', 'Shelter in a time of storm', 'The solid rock', and the 'Old rugged cross'). As we have learned new hymns the kids are always delighted when Sunday morning comes and they get to sing along with the congregation in a hymn they are already familiar with. Again...a priceless blessing.
Family worship time is a great joy for my family and I. Sometimes it is a struggle and there are even times when our schedule just gets in the way, but we are consistent and will prayerfully do everything we can to continue to be. Our studies have become richer, our singing has become more praise filled, and our prayers have become more direct.
How about your family study time? Have you considered turning it into a time of family worship? Find what structure works best for your family. Maybe it is easier for you to set aside time during the morning rather than the evening. Maybe you have a piano and can play along while the family sings. Maybe you can develop a prayer list for the family to pray from. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God and the spiritual enrichment of your family.
Thanks for stopping by!
Soli Deo gloria,
Pastor Adam (and family)