At the end of one year and beginning of the next, there is a pretty binary way of looking at the world: those that love New Year's resolutions, and those that hate them. There doesn't seem to be many in the middle. But even if you're not a New Year's resolution kinda person, it's hard to argue with the power of a new plan, new desires, new direction. You might be eating sugar and carbs after 2 months, but at least you tried.
If you are a resolutions sorta person, one area you might have overlooked in your planning/resolving is family worship. And I can imagine why. If you're like me, it's easy to feel shame as this subject comes up. We can all think of ways that our family worship should have been better in 2019. Poor planning, laziness and rambunctious kiddos is the unholy trinity of family worship. And everyone of us has felt beat up by them.
But remember, muscles don't grow that aren't being used. It might be feeble at first, but God will give growth in due time. If family worship in 2019 was not good, praise God that you have 2020. Commit this year, by God's grace, to give more effort towards family worship.
Below are 5 things that our family tried last year (with varying degrees of success). Our girls are 13, 11 and 9. I mention that because age really is a big factor for what you can do in family worship. When our girls were little we read a chapter of the Big Picture Story Bible each night and that was it. Now their attention span and ability to engage are much different.
But before I give practical advice, I want it to be very clear that you're not listening to a family worship expert here. You can ask my three girls...family worship isn't always that awesome. It's easy for me to try something for a few months, get bored and then try something else. Jesus has to multiply my meager 5 loaves and two fish...a lot. But over and over again, I have been so helped by hearing other people talk about their family worship routines, as imperfect as it might be, so I'm going to give you a few of ours.
Reading the Psalm of the day - I first heard about this from our pastor, Matt Mason. It has become our go-to on nights when we don't have much time. Here's how it works: Divide the book of Psalms into chunks of 30s. 1-30, 31-60, 61-90, 91-120, 121-150. Then, choose the Psalm that corresponds with today. Today is January 6th, so we can read Psalm 6, 36, 66, 96 or 126. That make sense? I'll usually do a little on the fly editing while we read. Some of these chapters are pretty long, and I try to keep us to 15 or so verses. And then, depending on how much time we have left, I'll ask a few questions about the text. What jumps out at you? Why do you think he used this word? Why would David use this emotion-filled phrase? Is there a command in the text? They're pretty simple inductive questions.
Praying the Psalm of the day - This is a lot like reading the Psalm of the day, only here we all read one or two verses and then pray. So if we were on Psalm 6, which has 10 verses, we would each read 2 verses and then spend some time praying about the verses we just read. This has been one of the sweetest things we've done for family worship this past year. I love hearing my girls take in the Word of God and then pray it back to God. They pray through Scripture, but they also pray their desires and requests. It's precious and I'm so grateful to God for the times we did this. I hope it's a big part of our 2020.
Read the NT in a year - One of my goals for 2019 was for our family to read the New Testament together. A few weeks into 2019, it was very clear that it wasn't going to happen. But I think it's a really attainable goal for this year, so I'm going to try again. I found this helpful layout for reading the NT in a year (THE NEW TESTAMENT IN A YEAR READING PLAN). I printed 5 of them so that we can all have one. Reading the Bible in a year when I was in college changed my life...like, literally. As I look backwards, it was one of the biggest means of grace in my growth in Christ. I want that same kind of Bible-saturation for my family.
The Bible Project videos - We stumbled into this approach last year, and it turned out to be one of our favorite things to do in family worship. Quick backstory... Danielle taught ancient history last year. She ended up using the Bible Project as a resource a ton in class. We loved their material so much that we decided to get one of their picture Bibles as Christmas gifts for a bunch of people. And the videos they produce are just as cool as the books. They're insightful and helpful and beautifully illustrated. So we thought, why don't we start watching these videos for family worship. Each night we would watch one book of the Bible. They're about 10 minutes long. After the video was over I asked everyone to talk about something that stuck out to them. We made it through most of the Old Testament last year, I hope to finish the Bible this year. Here’s the link to Genesis (Overview: Genesis Ch. 1-11)
Dangerous Journey - When the girls were little I read about a kids adaptation for the Pilgrim's Progress called Dangerous Journey. At the time I was working with college students and we had just used Pilgrim's Progress in our discipleship groups. I saw how meaningful it was for the students, and I was pretty amped up about this material. So, I got this book and started reading it to the girls at night. I think we made it 3 days and we had to call it quits. My middle child, who was about 4 years old at the time, started having nightmares about Apollyon. Danielle wisely reminded me that there would be a time when they would be helped by this book, but it wasn't then :). We picked this book back up this year and it has been such a blessing. I love how pregnant with meaning and symbolism each character and place is. We're almost finished, but I might start it right back up again after we're done.
I hope something here is helpful for you. Family worship is a stewardship and responsibility, but it's also a joy. We have so few years with our kiddos in our home. And some spiritual formation won't happen through osmosis. Some spiritual growth has to come through intentional instruction. I'm praying that as you look back on 2020 in 12 months, you'll see a year of intentional spiritual investment in your children.