Gathering together as a family to spend focused time worshiping God is a wonderful way to center your home on Him. Family worship is a visible reminder to our children that God is worthy of our time, our attention, and our affection. In the hectic ebb and flow of life, it can be difficult for a family to settle in to a sustainable rhythm of regular family worship. The buzz of activity around Christmastime doesn’t do anything to make life easier, but, if you let them, the biblical themes that permeate the holiday season can also serve as a center of gravity that helps pull a family into beautiful habits of worship.
For those who have never experienced it, getting started with family worship can seem quite daunting. If the whole thing is a foreign concept to your family, consider leveraging the holiday spirit by simply starting off with a nightly family Christmas devotional. As you start, there’s often a noticeable difference between how you think it’s supposed to go and how it’s actually going. Don’t let the gap between the ideal and the reality stop you! Keep it simple, engaging, and enjoyable. Consider including the following basic elements:
Read a portion of the Word together, either chapter-by-chapter or as a selection provided in a devotional guide. Christmas is a great time to focus on the themes of redemption, incarnation, and God’s faithfulness in keeping promises. You may even find that usually unengaged children are primed and ready to dive into these discussions because the Christmas story is so familiar to them. Capitalize on that and help them appreciate how the manger scene is a part of a bigger story about God’s glorious plan to rescue His people. After reading the text, work through a simple process of exploring what you’ve just read, discussing and applying key themes as you discover them. Ask: What did the passage say to the original readers? What does the passage mean for all time? How does the passage apply to our lives? Hide God’s Word in your hearts by memorizing Scripture together. Repeat verses throughout the week and review them as you continue to worship together throughout the month, perhaps challenging one another to see who can memorize the most by Christmas day.
Try to include all family members as you pray, even if this is on a rotating basis. Avoid getting stuck in a prayer rut by modeling and encouraging well-rounded prayers. For example, you may consider using the acronym PRAY (Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield) to guide your prayer time. Additionally, you may want to maintain a family prayer journal that helps you keep track of prayer requests and God’s answers to those requests. Let your prayers flow from the Scripture you’ve read together, praising God for sending His Son to save us and asking Him to give your family a heightened anticipation of His second coming.
Sing together as a family. Kids songs, carols, hymns, praise songs—whatever, just sing to God! Many Christmas carols contain rich expressions of the biblical themes you’ll be highlighting throughout the holidays, and they have the added benefit of being familiar and easy to sing. Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus and Go Tell it on the Mountain are family favorites that we end up singing year round. A newer song that my kids are sure to request this time of year is Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God. If someone in the family has a musical gift, utilize it. If not, use a recording or simply sing a cappella. Consider using songs that your church will be singing during the weeks leading up to Christmas so your children will be familiar with them during corporate worship.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach [God’s words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” As you seek to engage your children with the focused discipleship that occurs during regular family worship, you’ll also find that it is a powerful catalyst for “as you go” discipleship throughout the season. The great truths you read, pray over, and sing about during family worship will overflow into the rest of your family life and are sure to enrich your appreciation of the true meaning of the holiday season. Merry Christmas, and may Christ reign brightly in your homes this year!