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Thoughts on Family Worship #1

August 12, 2011

I originally intended to call this series of posts “The Goal of Family Worship.” Once I began writing, though, I realized that this is a subject that would be hard to exhaust and that I could limit myself if I tried to maintain a certain level of cohesion throughout the series. Well, “series” is probably too strong a word. “Thoughts” is probably more appropriate. Plus, it allows me the freedom to leave it open-ended… because I’m very non-committal. I think.

For this post I just want to mention what I’m trying to do when I read the Scriptures to my children. Well, let me start off by telling you what I’m NOT trying to do:

1. I’m not trying to teach them systematic theology. Although systematic theology does have a place (That place seems to be getting smaller and smaller as the years go by in my opinion… but that’s another post), family worship time is definitely not that place.

2. I’m not trying to teach them morals. This especially applies to the Old Testament, which, if you grew up in a broad evangelical church like I did, only consisted of 4 or 5 stories: Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, The crossing of the Red Sea, Jonah and the whale, and maybe Samson and Delilah.

3. I’m not concerned that they understand, or even comprehend, all that I’m reading to them. Eventually that will come. Especially as we continue to read the whole Bible over and over again. I’ve also found that if I try to drive one specific point home, they usually forget everything else.

O.K., so then what am I trying to do when I read the Bible to my children? Well, I’m sure there are a number of goals I’m trying to achieve with our Scripture reading, but here are the main two I’m thinking of right now:

1. I want to teach my girls to be attentive to the reading. They need to be quiet, be still and look at me. The reason is that I believe there is a proper response for everything done in worship. I believe it’s appropriate to kneel when confessing sins. I believe it’s appropriate to stand when hearing the gospel read. I believe it’s appropriate to sit when eating and drinking at the Lord’s Supper. And I believe it’s appropriate to HEAR the reading of Scripture.

My oldest daughter, Molly, is an avid reader. She could easily follow along in her own Bible, but I don’t want her to. I want her to listen. More appropriately, I want her to HEAR. Hearing is the best way to “take in” God’s Word. The Bible tells us this over and over. Somehow, in our strange, American, Evangelical minds, we’ve decided that the pastor can’t be trusted and we need to follow along in our own Bibles whenever it’s read out loud. Or maybe we’ve just come to the conclusion that reading is a better way to comprehend. Perhaps a mixture of both. Regardless, we’re meant to hear the Word first and foremost.

Another aspect of this is respecting the authority of the one reading. If God’s Word is authoritative – as we believe – then the one reading it has a certain amount of authority as well. So on Sunday mornings I want them to look at whoever is doing the Scripture readings the same as I want them to look at me (or my wife, or even my oldest daughter) when we do our readings every night. It’s not so much about the comprehension – as I said, that will come with time – but it’s the training of posture that I’m concerned with.

2. I want my daughters to connect with the story of the Bible. This is why I don’t waste my time trying to teach theology and morals. The Bible is much bigger than that. Instead, I emphasize the connections – the common threads. The number forty occurs numerous times in the Bible… I make sure they notice this (I really don’t have to anymore). And when we read about Jael “crushing” the head of the evil Sisera, I make sure they connect this to all the other head crushings (which, of course, connect us to Genesis 3:14). I make sure they notice trees, and fish, and colors, and directions and baptisms and so on and so on. Besides, this is actually fun for them. If I was spending our family worship time teaching them theology, I’m sure it would be a drag… which sounds like a good “thought” for another post!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 14, 2011 6:34 pm

    I am waiting for the post concerning systematic theology on point one. You have peeked my interest.

Trackbacks

  1. Our Homeschool Adventure | The Wife’s 2 Cents
  2. Thoughts on Family Worship #2 « A Way of Being Human

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