F.A.M.I.L.Y worship throughout COVID-19 | The trade
COVID-19 has disrupted the normal rhythm and social life of many children and families across the country. With the cancellation of schools, recreational events and personal gatherings in the church, and the relocation of remote work, our family (like many others) spends a little more time (or maybe a lot more time) with each other.
Parents, we all want to take good care of our children in this unprecedented time. But I have to say it was a couple of challenging days for my wife and me. The truth is that our children (13, 11 and 8 years old) have problems being banished to the house and the daily schedule we have implemented. You just want things to be normal.
Given what they want and what is, Joannie and I know that these will be challenging days and weeks. However, we strive to take good care of our children's hearts and to get them to engage in Jesus and his love for them and the world.
I understand how intimidating and overwhelming it can be to get your children to push themselves into Jesus. For some parents, Christ-centered parenting (leadership) may never have been modeled as a child. Or parents feel ill-armed to teach their children to enter Jesus through prayer or reading (and understanding) the Bible. In such cases, it is easy to see how family discipleship has been assigned to the Church and its leaders.
During this COVID-19 season, many churches do their best to put their gatherings and discipleship mechanisms online, but the parents must be the ones who strengthen. In the coming days, family discipleship needs to be restored to be initiated and led by parents.
What I want to do in this post is to walk you through a simple process of guiding your children in a time of family worship as the family unit invades Jesus.
The why, when and how long of family worship
If your kids aren't used to gathering around the dining table or in the living room, this may be the most difficult step. Still, it's the first step. You have to put them together for a company time without distractions. You need to make sure that the TV is turned off and the phones are out of hand and not visible.
You should strive for the following at this time of the corporate family: Draw your family as a unit, focus on the glory and centrality of Jesus, and remind everyone that Jesus is the hero of the family (and the world).
Regardless of whether you have a 3 year old or a 17 year old, this (or something similar) should be the purpose of your family worship time. And I would also like to add that in times of crisis it is important that we focus our children's eyes and hearts on Jesus as our ultimate HOPE.
For many, just the simple step of collecting will be a big win.
What happens after you bring everyone together? Before moving on to the next step too quickly, I would like to answer a question that many of you – especially those who have never done before, and your children – will ask: when and how long should family worship take?
Time can be one of the biggest questions or even obstacles that (busy, distracted, and fidgety) families have. You can go ahead and relax. It is not about quantity, but time quality.
Family worship can be weekly or daily – or anything in between. It can take 30 minutes, 15 minutes, or even 5 minutes. The timing is up to you.
In short, family worship doesn't have to be a tedious ordeal. Sure, it can feel like a long, protracted ordeal to settle your younger kids down. But once they're done, it doesn't have to be long.
What are you doing during family service?
There are at least three things Donald Whitney states in his Family Worship book that families can do during this time. You can sing, pray, read. Sing a song, pray a prayer, and read a passage in the Bible.
I want to focus on the element of Bible reading. If you have younger children, you can buy the storybook Bible and read one chapter at a time. You may want to download the YouVersion app and create a daily prayer plan that includes part of the Bible reading.
The key is to read the Bible together. Here too, it's not about quantity, it's about quality. And after reading the passage, you can use some or all of the following abbreviations F.A.M.I.L.Y.
F.aith, ONdoration, M.Output, Intimacy, L.east condition and Y.ou. As you go through this acronym, you can ask the following questions:
F.aith– What does this passage teach us about Christian faith? Remember belief simply means trust, belief or trust in God – who he is, what he says and what he promises.
ONdoration– Is there anything in this passage that teaches us why we should worship God? Is there something that God is doing in this passage that should make us answer him in worship, praise, or worship?
M.output– What does this passage teach about God's mission? For me, I have told my children that God's mission is to create (or save) a people for themselves from all the peoples of the world.
While God's mission involves evangelism – telling other people about Jesus – it is much more. God's mission also includes how we live – how we relate to our parents, do our homework, treat our siblings, how we love others, etc. To be God's people means that we allow Jesus to live his life through us (Gal . 2): 20).
Intimacy– Does this passage tell us anything about a relationship with God? Christian life is not about a few things. It can consist of Dos and Don, but that's not the essence. The essence of Christian life is a relationship with God through Christ. So are there any keys in this passage that give us information about how we relate to (walk with) Christ?
L.east condition– Does this passage give us an insight into the fallen nature (or sinfulness) of humanity? When I ask this question, my goal is to see how people – whether they know God or not – struggle with sin and how sin is demonstrated and manifested in a person's life. What is clear – especially when observing the disciples of Jesus – is that man needs Jesus not only for salvation but also for sanctification.
Y.ou– What do you notice in this passage? What does God teach you in this passage? Here I want you to personalize what the passage means to you. Or do you have questions about this passage?
Some may wonder if every story or scripture contains every element I have listed? Some do, some don't. Here, too, it's not about the quantity, but about the quality. There are some passages and stories where it can be more beneficial to focus on God's mission, and others where it can be more beneficial to talk about worship or the lost state (sinfulness) of man.
My encouragement would be to let the Spirit of God guide you in these moments.
Families will be spending a lot of time together in the coming days and weeks (and possibly months). In addition, with large church meetings canceled, many children do not have the age-appropriate worship environment they are used to.
While some churches will work to send helpful material to parents, it is the responsibility of the parents to discipline themselves (and their children) to have these corporate times of family worship.
Remember that times of family worship don't have to be overwhelming or intimidating. They can be short, simple and cute if we anchor our family in the centrality of Jesus and make him the hero of our family. And if this is done consistently during this time, we may find that family worship according to COVID-19 becomes a spiritual discipline of our lives.
Josh Laxton is currently deputy director of the Billy Graham Center, North American coordinator from Lausanne at Wheaton College and co-host of the podcast Living in the Land of Oz. He has a Ph.D. in North American Missiology from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.