For most, summer is a welcomed break from some of the daily tasks that the school year brings (packing lunches, checking homework, early bedtimes, etc.), but as a person in charge of children at church, rhythms are still something I love. Rhythms can bring predictability, comfort, and order; they are defined as “regular recurring sequences of events, actions, or processes.” Most of our homes already have rhythms whether they are intentional or not, but how do we encourage rhythms of family worship?
Family worship time is simply that—worship with your family. And just as no two families are the same, no two-family worship times will be the same. One great encouragement to me regarding this is that there is no one “right” way. What immediately comes to my mind when I hear “family worship” is a picture of everyone gathering in the living room or at the dining table and reading Scripture or a devotional and having a time of prayer and singing. And this is great! However, your family may be in a season when a parent is working late (or early), or one child goes to bed at 7:00, but the oldest isn’t getting home from practice until 7:30, or you’ve tried many things and nothing seems to stick. As parents, we can often get caught up in how things “should be” or how we expected something to go. Our children will squirm or seem uninterested. We will forget, and when we remember, we may lose our patience or wonder if it really even matters.
Where do we start and what do we do?
A former pastor of our family, Ashley Dusenbery, would often encourage families to “never stop starting” a time of family worship. So where can we start? James Clear wrote the NYT bestseller Atomic Habits in 2018. One concept from this book is “habit stacking” which is identifying something you already do each day and then stacking your new behavior on top. What is a habit or rhythm that already exists in your family, and how could can you “stack” family worship with it? Maybe there is a consistent time everyone is in the vehicle together that could include a time for prayer. Is there a favorite hymn to sing on a drive? Could catechism questions or Scripture memorization be stacked with brushing teeth or bath time? Perhaps older children could stay up for a Bible story after little siblings’ bedtime. It could be that you just need encouragement to linger a little longer at the table during a meal and read Scripture together. As we analyze the rhythms of our families, we will be confronted with what our family treasures. It is easy to become so busy with so many good things that we are tempted to lose sight of Who our family treasures most.
The Consistency of Christ
While I am no expert on consistent family rhythms and certainly do not have the secret formula, I do know that His Word is trustworthy and true, and it is something worth building a family rhythm upon. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:8). His Word will never return void but shall accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). So, as we prayerfully consider rhythms of worship for our families, we can rest in knowing the finished work of Jesus. When we once again are faced with our own inconsistencies, we can take them to the unchanging One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We can, in humble reliance on Christ, start a family worship rhythm again and again with the comfort of the good news that His mercies are new every morning and His resources are never exhausted.