Awakening of authentic and acceptable family worship
Six people, full-size but not full-grown, live together in one house and sit squished on one long couch and one short. We’re talking, then reading, then singing, then praying. This is the way I imagine us meeting with God together. This is my picture of worship—my husband and me and these four people who have lived with us since they were born. I know we don’t do it enough. I’m not sure it’s working. God help us. Draw our hearts to worship.
What does your picture look like? Your couch might have one parent, or perhaps a grandparent. You might not all fit on two couches or even in one room. If you’re like us, you might have big ones holding little ones, eager ones sitting next to eye-rollers, book-studiers and action-takers, peacemakers and agitators. But we’re all the family of God, the body of Christ, and we are all called to worship.
It takes so much more than squished-on-the-couch time. It takes a drawing of our hearts toward God in all times and places. It takes a growing-up of our faith as we grow up … together. So my picture needs to change, and perhaps yours does, too.
Family worship can become a lifestyle, an atmosphere in our homes, and the devotion of each individual heart. It starts as a work of the Holy Spirit partnering with us as we lead our families, because God works in every person’s heart uniquely.
The methods of going deeper with God as a family do not have to be complicated, just simply authentic … and acceptable to Him. Here are a few steps to help us get started.
Introduce your children to God.
It’s a beautiful thing to lead your children in a true salvation experience, no matter the age. I have seen many 3-year-olds receive this great joy, and 13-year-olds, too. This salvation must begin with an understanding that they are sinners. It isn’t fun to teach them this truth, but without it, their view of God is off-center.
They also need to understand how great their Savior is, that He loves them and paid off the debt of their sin with His life. Once there is understanding and repentance, surrender follows simply because the heart knows He is greater. That’s the beginning of a lifetime of worship.
Tell them YOUR story.
As dads and moms, we play the part of hero in our child’s world, even if we don’t look that way to anyone else. How would it seem to them if their hero had a Hero? He must be great, indeed! So take time to tell your children how you met God. What was your life like before? How did He become the singular focus of your world? If you can’t say with honesty that this has happened yet, tell them. As you surrender your heart to God, lead your children.
Let them follow you one step at a time. Every day when you get home from work, tell them something you saw your Hero do. If you aren’t embarrassed to bring Him up in conversation, they will find their courage. Your vulnerability will instill security and your words will INSPIRE them to worship.
Encourage alone time with God.
One of my favorite memories from childhood is talking to God while riding my bike up and down the sidewalk. My mom remembers lying on her bed all afternoon with an old hymnal and singing to Jesus. My husband remembers feeling close to God when his parents took him on vacation and showed him wonderful things in nature. You just don’t know when or where the moments will take place, when your child’s heart falls deeper in love with Jesus.
Maybe there are no words and your kids just dance or laze in the grass to look up at the sky. I’m sure He loves that! Encourage your children to wait in faith for Him to come. He will always show up in precious and personal ways.
It’s important not to laugh at your children when they do silly things to express their worship. Jesus might consider this a hindrance, and we know how He feels about that!
Honor God for who He is.
Who does God say He is? How is He different from man? To be honest, man thinks He knows God better than he actually does. From cradle to grave we have the tendency to worship a God of our own design. It is critically important that we and our children learn God’s words, His ways and His wonders from the Bible.
We can never exhaust His amazing attributes. Knowing Him stirs our hearts to trust Him, love Him, desire to be near Him, and yes, it inspires wholehearted worship.
Give God a life of worship.
There’s one thing that sets Christians apart from other people. We open ourselves up to the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. We are willing to wrestle with our natural human responses and become people of virtue. Virtue is simply goodness; it is the character of God. That doesn’t mean only Christians can be honest, forgiving, loving, gentle, or diligent or that being a Christian makes you automatically that way! But we have a Helper, and when we yield to His work in our lives, it draws us closer to God. What does it look like to yield? Simply, it means obey.
Our children are the recipients of a biblical mandate—to honor and obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1). When our children choose to obey our earthly (potentially-flawed) commands, they are obeying God as well. If obedience is lacking in our homes, repentance is an important first step, both from us and our children!
Every time we obey God, we’re allowing the Holy Spirit to till up fallow ground in our hearts where the good seed of the Word of God can take root. Teaching our children the Word of God cannot be over emphasized, but neither can we neglect the preparation of the soil. It is our responsibility as parents, and it must be done with diligence. To God, obedience is an act of genuine, authentic, acceptable, worship.
My husband, Elton, and I strongly believe that there is a revival coming to the children of the world. As parents and pastors, we must spark the flame by leading them into genuine worship of the God of the Bible. True worship will open their hearts to receive the love they are so desperate for, love that nothing in this world can rival.
When their hearts are ignited with the love of God, an awakening of worship will explode from every corner of the world, or either end of the couch, even when squished. Yes, your children. Can you see it? I can.
Heather McMillan and her husband Elton have four delightful children ages 15-21. Yes, they were all teenagers at once! They are family pastors at their home church in Oregon and enjoy traveling internationally to train children’s pastors. Heather also owns We Choose Virtues, developing tools to help parents and teachers to simply inspire character that lasts. wechoosevirtues.com