Pastor Tim writes a new family worship guide for the bulletin most weeks using the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Please use this as a guide and example of what a family may use to worship the LORD and catechize their children from week to week in the home. For more resources to enrich your time of family worship visit Books On The Lane (CLPC’s Book Store).
Here is a sample CLPC Family Worship Guide:
FAMILY WORSHIP GUIDE FOR THE WEEK
THEME: OUR COVENANT-KEEPING GOD
Verse of the Month: Exodus 34:6-7
“The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’”
Hymn of the Month: “Standing On The Promises” (TH#)
Psalm of the Month: “Give Thanks Unto The LORD, Jehovah” (TH#613)
WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
Q. 18. What is sinful about man’s fallen condition? A. The sinfulness of that fallen condition is twofold. First, in what is commonly called original sin, there is the guilt of Adam’s first sin with its lack of original righteousness and the corruption of his whole nature. Second are all the specific acts of disobedience that come from original sin.
CLPC Families: Throughout the week, read all of these verses and talk about how they relate to question 18. (Rom. 5:12, 19; Rom. 3:10-18, 23; Col. 3:10; Eph. 4:24; Ps. 51:5; John 3:6; Rom. 8:7-8; Eph. 2:3; Gen. 6:5; Ps. 53:1-3; Matt. 15:19; Gal. 5:19-21; James 1:14-15)
- When a criminal stands before a judge, after all the evidence has been clearly presented proving his offence, what happens? The judge declares the criminal to be guilty of a crime. In Adam’s case, God declared Him to be guilty of sin when he disobeyed the LORD’s command. What do we think about judges that do not uphold the law?
- Adam’s represented us like a king represents his people. When Adam rebelled against the LORD who is the King of the Universe, he brought judgment upon his entire kingdom, which includes us. Can you think of kings or political leaders of countries who have violated laws that brought about suffering and judgment upon their people? History is full of such examples. (Read Romans 5:18 again)
- Because of Adam’s rebellion against the LORD all of his descendants were born with rebellious hearts. Before Adam’s fall into sin he possessed an upright and righteous heart. He sought to live in obedience to the LORD who is King of kings. We all prove that we belong to Adam’s line and are under his penalty by they fact that we sin everyday. Read Romans 3:10 and discuss some ways you disobeyed the LORD today in the things you did or did not do.
- Not only do we suffer the guilt and penalty for Adam’s sin and our own, but our hearts suffer from the polluting effects of sin. Sin is like a dirty sewage plant that pollutes our water, air, and food. Because of sin our thought, words, and deeds are polluted. We clearly see the effects of pollution in the world. How does this illustrate sins polluting effects on our lives? What does Isaiah 64:4 say about this?
- We not only suffer from the guilt, penalty, and pollution of sin, but we also are negatively effected by the influence of sin and the power of sin in this world. Paul speak of the “law of sin” in Romans 7:25. The power of sin is like the law of gravity. Are we ever free of gravities effects upon us?
- I must learn that the suffering I experience in this world is the result of sinfulness.
- I must learn that I have been born a sinner, and I prove that every day by my sinning. (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:10, Ecclesiastes 7:20)
- I must learn that my sinnership includes all of my being such as my thoughts, words, and actions.
- I must learn that sin is the result of Adam’s original sin, which pollutes me.
- I must learn to love and trust in Christ more and more as the only sinless savior.
When our Heavenly Father is pleased to unite us to Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith we are born again. We no longer suffer under sin’s domination as the Israelites suffered under Pharaoh’s domination in Egypt, because Christ has broken the bonds of sins domino by His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. We still battle the influence of sin. So we must look to Jesus day-by-day through His gifts: the Word, prayer, and live lives of faith and repentance.
Closing Song: Doxology
Implementing Family Worship
Here are some suggestions to help you establish God-honoring Family Worship in your homes. We trust this avoids two extremes: an idealistic approach that is beyond the reach of even the most God-fearing home, and a minimalist approach that abandons daily Family Worship because the ideal seems so out of reach.
Prepare for Family Worship: Even before Family Worship begins, we should privately pray for God’s blessing upon that worship. Then we should plan for the what, where, and when of Family Worship.
1. What. Generally speaking, this includes instruction in the Word of God, prayer before the throne of God, and singing to the glory of God. But we need to determine more of the specifics of Family Worship.
First, have Bibles and copies of ;”The Trinity Hymnal and/or song sheets for all the children who can read. For children who are too young to read, read a few verses from Scripture and select one text to memorize as a family. Say it aloud together several times as a family, and then reinforce that with a short Bible story to illustrate the text. Take time to teach a stanza or two of a Hymn, Psalter, or Spiritual Song selection to such children, and encourage them to sing with you.
For young children, try using Truths of God’s Word, which has a guide for teachers and parents that illustrates each doctrine. For children in grade four and up, try James W. Beeke’s Bible Doctrine series with accompanying teachers’ guides. In any case explain what you have read to your children, and ask them a question or two.
Then sing one or two psalms and a sound hymn or a good chorus like “Dare to be a Daniel.” Close with prayer. For older children, read a passage from Scripture, memorize it together, and then apply a proverb. Ask questions about how to apply those verses to daily life, or perhaps read a portion from the gospels and its corresponding section in J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels. Ryle is simple yet profound. His clear points help generate discussion. Perhaps you’d like to read parts of an inspirational biography. However, don’t let the reading of edifying literature replace Bible-reading or its application.
John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress or Holy War, or daily meditations by Charles Spurgeon [such as Morning and Evening or Faith’s Checkbook] are appropriate for more spiritually-minded children. Older children will also benefit from William Jay’s Morning and Evening Exercises, William Mason’s Spiritual Treasury, and Robert Hawker’s Poor Man’s Morning and Evening Portions. After those readings, sing a few familiar hymns and psalms and perhaps learn a new one before closing with prayer.
You should also use the creeds and confessions of our church. Young children should be taught to say the Lord’s Prayer and memorize the Westminster Shorter Catechism over time.
2. Where. Family worship may be held around the dinner table; however, it might be better to move to the living room or to mom and dad’s bed before bedtime, where there are fewer distractions. Whatever room you select, make sure it contains all of your devotional materials. Use a basket to hold all you need that can be easily moved from room to room. Before you start, take the phone off the hook, or plan to let your answering machine or voice mail take messages. Your children must understand that Family Worship is the most important activity of the day and should not be interrupted by anything.
3. When. Ideally, Family Worship should be conducted twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. That fits best with Scriptural directions for worship in the Old Testament economy in which the beginning and close of each day were sanctified by the offering of morning and evening sacrifices as well as morning and evening prayers, and [in] the New Testament church which apparently followed the pattern of morning and evening prayers. The Westminster Directory of Worship states, “Family worship, which ought to be performed by every family, ordinarily morning and evening, consists in prayer, reading the Scriptures, and singing praises.”
For some, Family Worship is scarcely possible more than once a day, after the evening meal. Either way, heads of households must be sensitive to the family schedule and keep everyone involved. Practice the principle of Matthew 6:33 (“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”) in establishing a family schedule.
Carefully guard this time of Family Worship. If you know ahead of time that the normal time will not be suitable on a certain day, reschedule worship time. Don’t skip it, however; that can become habitual. When you can keep to your appointed times, plan carefully and prepare beforehand to make every minute count. Fight every enemy of Family Worship.
During Family Worship, aim for the following:
1. Brevity. As Richard Cecil said, “Let Family Worship be short, savory, simple, tender, heavenly.” Family worship that is too long makes children restless and may provoke them to disobedience.
If you worship twice a day, try ten minutes in the morning and a little longer in the evening. A twenty-five minute period of Family Worship might be divided as follows: ten minutes for Scripture reading and instruction; five minutes for reading a daily portion or an edifying book or discussing some concern in a Biblical light; five minutes for singing; and five minutes for prayer.
2. Consistency. It is better to have twenty minutes of Family Worship every day than to try for extended periods on fewer days—say forty-five minutes on Monday, then skipping Tuesday. Family worship provides us “the manna which falls every day at the door of the tent, that our souls are kept alive,” wrote James W. Alexander in his excellent book on Family Worship.
Don’t indulge excuses to avoid Family Worship: If you lost your temper at a child a half-hour before Family Worship time, don’t say, “It’s hypocritical for me to lead Family Worship, so we’ll skip it tonight.” You don’t need to run from God at such times. Rather, you must return to God like the penitent publican. Begin worship time by asking everyone who witnessed your loss of temper to forgive you, then pray to God for forgiveness. Children will respect you for that. They will tolerate weaknesses and even sins in their parents so long as the parents confess their wrongdoings and earnestly seek to follow the Lord. They and you know that the Old Testament high priest was not disqualified for being a sinner but had first to offer sacrifice for himself before he could offer sacrifices for the people’s sins. Neither are you and I disqualified today for confessed sin, for our sufficiency lies in Christ, not in ourselves. As A. W. Pink said, “It is not the sins of a Christian, but his unconfessed sins, which choke the channel of blessing and cause so many to miss God’s best.”
Lead Family Worship with a firm, fatherly hand and a soft, penitent heart: Even when you’re bone-weary after a day’s work, pray for strength to carry out your fatherly duty. Remember that Christ Jesus went to the cross for you bone-weary and exhausted but never shrunk from His mission. As you deny yourself, you will see how He strengthens you during Family Worship, so that by the time you finish, your exhaustion is overcome.
(Select portions taken from J.R. Beeke’s work Family Worship re-printed with permission.)