Series introduction: Family worship doesn’t save; only Jesus can do that. But I’m convinced that the practice of coming together as a family to worship God in the home is sorely needed in our homes today. Because there’s no specific to-do list in the Bible about family worship, I’ve struggled this year to work out what it looks like for us when I’m leading my own growing family.
To encourage myself and others about this, I’ve interviewed a few families that Cheryl and I respect and look up to, learning from them what they do, what they don’t, how they struggle, how they persevere with intentionally leading their families to know and love Jesus Christ.
We’ve known the Waltzes since they moved to New Zealand about a year and a half ago (March 2012). One of the first things I noticed about them was that their children sing in church – even all the adult songs with big words. In fact, they were more engaged in singing than some of the nearby adults! I later learned that Luke teaches them many of the songs we sing at church to the kids.
The Waltzes have temporarily called Auckland home while Luke’s managing a research and development team for Crown Equipment. Kelli homeschools their four children now that they’re in NZ.
In our times together we’ve enjoyed learning more about American culture, delicious home-made pies (with sweet, not savoury fillings), Ohio State University rivalries, and the trials and rewards of parenting four busy kids. Luke was kind enough to answer some questions below.
1. Tell us a bit more about your family.
We have four children: Nathan 11, Laura 9, Ryan 8, and Elisabeth 5.
We’ve been in New Zealand for about a year and a half. We’re fairly active; we like sports such as baseball, basketball, gymnastics, camping, and a good day at the beach.
2. Describe what you did the last time you worshipped together as a family.
This evening, we sang several songs together, with me leading on the piano (10,000 Reasons, How Great is Your Faithfulness, and Come Thou Fount). We read Psalm 135 and discussed it. Then we prayed together at the end. It probably took 30 minutes.
Our family devotions generally have singing, reading / discussion, and prayer, but not every time. We don’t sing every night, but most nights we will read / discuss and pray together. If we’ve been out late that evening, we may just pray together. And if we’re out extremely late, the kids will go straight to bed.
On weekday mornings, Kelli also leads a 15 minute devotional with the kids.
3. Did your parents practise any sort of family worship when you grew up?
No. While we both grew up in families that regularly attended church, family worship was not practised.
4. So how did you guys end up starting it in your home?
We probably started when Nathan was around 4 years old. We believed it was important, but neither Kelli or I had experienced it first-hand growing up. It was something that we sort of organically started doing.
5. You also help lead gathered worship at church. How does being a worship leader there influence how you view and lead it in your home?
In a practical sense, I have access to a lot of good songs and am able to lead with a guitar or piano. However, YouTube has also been a great resource for us. Before our musical instruments arrived in New Zealand, we would play Sovereign Grace songs or Getty songs on YouTube on our iPad and would sing with them.
We sing the same songs that are sung in church on a Sunday morning. I’ve also developed some convictions that if we’re going to sing, we ought to sing songs that have deep, lyrical gospel centred content. So we tend to sing songs in our family worship that also fit that criteria.
6. Have you done these things the same way since you started?
It has evolved over time. I can’t really think of any meaningful way that it has changed or ways that we would do it differently. As our children get older, the conversations continue to get deeper.
7. Do you have to guard the time to worship together as a family? If so, how?
I don’t feel like we actively guard our time. It is just something that is a natural part of our routine. However, as our children get older, we may need to get more aggressive in guarding our time.
8. Do you use the Bible, or other books?
We do use the Bible, but we don’t use it exclusively. We’ve used some devotional books that have also been quite helpful. Some of our favourites have been:
- Training Hearts, Teaching Minds (Starr Meade)
- Big Truths for Young Hearts (Bruce Ware)
- The Jesus Storybook Bible (Sally Lloyd-Jones)
- Long Story Short (Marty Machowski)
- Old Story New (Marty Machowski)
9. What’s your advice to someone who’s wondering how to do this, or think they can’t do this?
There’s no magic to it. Just keep doing it.
In our culture of twitter and instant everything, we tend to want instant results. You won’t get instant results from having family devotions. Just like the Christian life is described as a marathon, so raising our kids could be viewed that way also.
There will be days when everyone is tired and not able to concentrate very well. Do it anyway. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a night. Don’t worry if you’re not a good singer. We’re in it for the long-term. Let’s run a little better each and every day.
Other posts in this series:
- “Here the reformation begins” – my introduction
- The Richardsons and family worship
- The Davisons and family training
- The Fleeners and family worship
- The Anyabwiles and family worship