How to start family worship and why family devotions are important

Getting Started with Family Worship (an interview with my husband, John Sloan)

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Y’all, this is a pretty special interview! I sat down with my beloved and my friend, my husband John Sloan, to discuss why family worship is important, what it looks like in our family, and how other families can get started with family devotions in their own homes. John is truly my favorite person. We’ve been married for 16 years, and in that time he has been so faithful to prioritize the regular worship of God in our home. I also love that he didn’t come into this episode with “7 steps for family worship success.” Nope. John over and over again reminded us that we are resting on the grace of God in this, as in all aspects of family life. Is it any wonder I love this man? Wondering how to start family worship in your home? This interview is for you!

Be sure to check out all the other interviews in our Homeschool Conversations series!

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How to start family worship interview with homeschool dad

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Who is John Sloan?

John Sloan is a professional bridge engineer, an elder in the OPC, a husband (to me!), and a father of 5. If I wrote out a longer bio, you’d just think I was biased. 😉

Amy and John Sloan, Christian homeschool parents

Watch my interview with John Sloan

Show Notes {with video time stamps}

What is family worship? {2:02}

If you’ve wondered what family worship or family devotions really means, John started by laying out the big picture of what it means to worship God, and why we should do so.

John reminded us that we prioritize family devotions “not merely out of command or the threat of disobedience, but we draw near to God because we love Him. We simply are attracted to Him because He is wonderful… His person is loving and kind and wonderful. He’s a God of truth and wisdom and justice, and so we’re attracted to these things… He’s also near to us, so we’re drawn to Him by His grace, and His Holy Spirit gives us that motivation and desire.”

Why is family worship important? {6:00}

When God revealed Himself to His people in the Old Testament, John explained, “God gave His people a house, and He calls Himself Father. When we gather together in families, we’re a reflection of that. We’re a little house…we gather together in a community that is loving and kind and safe, and we talk to each other and communicate with each other…We’re having a conversation with God. We’re talking to Him and we’re getting to know Him. We speak to him in our prayers and songs, and HE speaks to us through His Word and His revelation to us. As we gather together in families, we’re a reflection of HIS family.”

What are the most important elements of family worship? {7:49}

John referenced Terry Johnson who once said that family worship is pretty simple:

You read the Bible.
You pray the Bible.
You sing the Bible.

John reminded us that we can keep it as simple as possible. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated.

You can include other things (Scripture memory, commentaries, etc), but at its heart the most important element of family worship is reading the very Word of God.

We’re not trying to be fancy or have a performance in our family devotions. That simple consistency is more important than doing something complicated.

John reminded us , “Daily devotions are important. God reveals His Word to us as bread. He calls it our daily bread. Jesus said, ‘I’m the bread that came down from heaven.’ As we read God’s Word and spend time with Him, we’re feeding upon that bread. You wouldn’t just say ‘Oh, I don’t need any food today’… Food is something that you take in on a daily basis, on a regular basis. God is teaching us something there when He calls His Word the Bread of Life… So it’s something we do on a daily basis.”

Why daily family devotions are important

How to start family worship for newbies {11:00}

John grinned and said that his biggest tip for someone new to family worship? It’s to take up God’s Word and read it (to quote from Augustine).

He continued, “The more we do family worship, the more we encounter God Himself, the more we see how great and vast He is. We see how much greater He is than we are. Don’t think you’ll ever become an expert at family worship.

When you feel inadequate? “That’s the opportunity for the grace of Jesus Christ to work in your life. Look to Him, and see that He is a gracious and merciful Savior. Have that desire to spend time with Him and learn from Him…He’s willing to teach us if we’re humble enough to acknowledge our need of Him to ultimately be the one leading our devotional life.”

John also encouraged, “The biggest mistake we could probably make is thinking on the one hand ‘Oh I’m not smart enough to do this,” or on the other hand, ‘I’m so smart I’ve got this down.’ I either don’t have to do it, or look how good I am at family worship.’It’s a matter of being humble enough to take up the Word of God and acknowledge your need of Him every day as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

How do family devotions change depending on the ages of your children? {16:22}

John really encouraged us to read the Scriptures themselves, even if you have little ones. There’s no substitute for the Word of God.

John also addressed some of those awkward moments or questions that may come up as you read the Scriptures: “As you read through the entire Bible, you will encounter anything and everything under the sun. And so that can lead to really good discussions…It can be a springboard to life discussions. Because we want to be talking to our kids about these challenging topics and different things before they go out on their own and learn from the people of this world.”

Common Family Worship Struggles {21:07}

We talked about a lot of common struggles or obstacles that arise when you’re trying to include family devotions in your family. We discussed most of these topics in too much detail to type out here in the show notes, but you can head to these time stamps to find our tips and strategies for the following struggles:

  • Time Issues: Busy Schedules, Sports, and More {21:22}
  • Crying babies, wiggly toddlers {27:46}
  • Not knowing what to read {32:00}
  • Not feeling confident that you can answer your children’s questions {32:17}
  • Moms who are single parents, widows, or whose husbands don’t want to participate or lead family devotions {34:32}

“We’re all, man or woman, all of us, we’re all looking to God to accomplish salvation in our midst. We’re reading the story of our salvation and the history of what Jesus Christ did on our behalf when He died on the cross to save us from our sin. Whomever you may be, worship God and look to Him to save you,” John encouraged.

Not matter what challenge you’re facing in your family devotions, John reminded us to “think of it as walking in the Spirit, and not of the flesh. Take that challenge to God… It’s not about my savvy or my instincts or creating a solution to the problem. But God is going to accomplish His salvation in the midst of that.

Family worship is about more than discipleship {39:03}

“I know who God is a lot better than I did 16 years ago,” John said. “Being able to enjoy the riches of Jesus Christ… Being able to participate in that treasure is so wonderful and enriching for us. Even if we never had children, we would have family devotions every day…We are ourselves very much enriched as we come together and worship God.”

Questions for each Homeschool Conversations Guest {40:32}

What are you reading lately?

In the Presence of the Creator, Gale Christianson

What is one thing you would say to a new homeschool parent?

“There’s nothing more important than teaching your children how to read and understand the Bible so that they can know God. That’s always been my first priority.”

family worship homeschool dads bible devotions

Check out all the other interviews in my Homeschool Conversations series!

Homeschool Conversations Video Interviews


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