Family Worship: The Basics

A short guide to leading your family in regular worship with the Lord.

Family Worship: The Basics

The richest and most memorable times you can have as a family are not the once in a lifetime activities together (although they can be memorable indeed) but the collection of moments from the routine activities over months and years. Unfortunately, over the years, routine family activities have declined and shifted to extra-curricular activities. School, sports, and even church activities have squeezed time out of our days and weeks and leave little for vital routines and touch points that used to be the heritage of families.

One of the ways we can reclaim this time is through a regular time of family worship. In fact it can become the foundation of family discipleship and Christian growth for the whole family.

What is it?

Family worship is simply a regular family gathering to engage in worship together. This doesn’t mean getting out the guitar and singing songs, although that may be part of it. Worship is simply lifting up the Lord with your life. This often includes prayer, reflection, and Bible reading, training, or discussion.

Why do it?

As Christian parents God has given us the responsibility and privilege to train our children in the instruction of the Lord and to shepherd their hearts (Joshua 24:15).

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. — Ephesians 6:4
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. — Proverbs 22:6

Now family worship is just a loose concept that embodies the idea of meeting together as a family unit to honor God by focusing on Him. You won’t find the words “family worship” in the Bible but the goals of it are. The catechism is a teaching technique (question and answer learning style) that is taught and practiced by many Christians too and although not found in scriptures are clearly used to achieve the goals of learning Christian doctrine.

How to do it


Fathers are given the primary role of overseeing their families. Therefore the vision of family discipleship belongs to you. Include your wife and if need be sell her on the vision. Parents can take turns leading these times or lead together as gifts and abilities dictate.

Start slow

If you haven’t been doing this kind of thing just start slow and find your groove. Everyone is in a different place. You will find yourself getting discouraged if you try and take on more than you are used to. Keep it simple and keep it short.


Approximately 30-90 minutes
This may change with experience, seasons, and family size and age groups. Do it too short and you don’t get value from it, too long and it may become a slog and a chore. Remember, you don’t have to fit a whole week's worth of worship, training and togetherness in this time. If you make sure you are intentional about other routine interactions with your kids and spouse through the week then there won’t be some much pressure during this time.


One of the most important parts of the family worship is making it a routine. In order to do this you need to balance how often you do it so that it stays fresh and interesting for you and everyone else but often enough to build something in everyone. I would encourage daily touch points with the family if you can but a 90 minute activity every single day may not only feel like drudgery over time but will wear you out. Once a month doesn’t feel often enough to be effective. Once a week seems to work well for most people but mileage may vary.

At what ages do I start?

If your family consists of just you and your wife then scheduling a regular family worship time is likely not necessary. Most couples have enough alone time built into their lives when children are not in the picture. I’d suggest getting started no later than when your oldest child is old enough to read. Once other children come along let them participate as they are able and don’t worry if they can’t pay attention. However, once they are old enough to read they should be full participants.

Schedule it

A lack of scheduling plagued our family worship time for years. Rather than schedule a day and time I tried to find a time when there was nothing going on. This meant that it would be weeks or longer before we met. If scheduling isn’t your thing then make it your thing for this. It is the only way in my opinion to make sure it happens regularly. Choose the days and times and schedule it for the month. For us we do 6pm each Sunday evening

Protect it

After you schedule it, protect that time fiercely. It may not be easy. Everything may appear to conflict with your scheduled time. Feel free to move the time in the summer or even take a short break. But if you do this, do it intentionally as part of your plan for the year.


Preparation is important for two reasons. First, you want your time together to be effective. Second, you want your family to see that this time is important. Even a little preparation goes a long way in both arenas. I would suggest setting aside some time each week to prepare for family worship. Preparation doesn’t have to take too much time. I’ve taken 10 minutes to outline a reading and some thoughts and other times I’ve taken a couple of hours to clearly communicate some Bible concepts I thought were important to dive into.



Prayer can be something you do the same each time. Make sure prayer is more than just asking God for things. Pray for missionaries, pastors, nations, officials, strongholds, health/healing, evangelism, etc.


The ultimate form of worship is intimately knowing God through His word. How you implement Bible study may vary. Teaching your children the Bible and even Christian doctrine is so very important. Your family worship time should not be the only time this happens but it would be good to bring in one aspect of your overall Bible teaching plan as part of this time.

  • Go through one chapter of a book of the Bible then have an open discussion.
  • Read a devotional together.
  • Watch a Bible teaching together. The Bible Project is a great resource.

Other ideas and examples

  • A Sunday evening gathering of the family for an hour in which dad teaches a prepared Bible study or reads through a devotional with an interactive time of discussion and conversation. End with a time of prayer based on a list posted prominently in the home.
  • Listen to or watch a Bible study series together several nights of the week. Each person takes their own personal notes during the teaching and time is taken afterword to talk through and discuss it.
  • Reading a chapter of the Bible to the family at dinner time each weekday as you you make your way through a whole book. Let children who can read take turns doing the reading each time followed by discussing what was read together.


The best way to get started is to jump in with both feet. Talk to your wife about it, put it on the calendar, and then announce it to your family. Now you are committed not just to do it once or twice but as a regular family routine.

It may not be easy, your children may grumble or not pay attention. Maybe you won’t see any fruit for a while. Persevere, this is important and will produce the fruit if you stick to it.

Rinse, Tweak, Repeat

In the beginning review your time with your wife and ask the following:

  • How did it go?
  • Was it too long/short?
  • What worked? What didn’t?

After a while you will find your groove and won’t need to do this as often. But remember each season of life changes things so don’t be afraid to change things up if they are not working for you.