The following quote is taken from the 1689 London Baptist Confession:
And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day which we cannot but touch upon and earnestly urge a redress of, and that is the neglect of the worship of God in families by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. May not the gross ignorance and instability of many, with the profaneness of others, be justly charged upon their parents and masters, who have not trained them up in the way wherein they ought to walk when they were young, but have neglected those frequent and solemn commands which the Lord hath laid upon them, so to catechise and instruct them that their tender years might be seasoned with the knowledge of the truth of God as revealed in the Scriptures; and also by their own omission of prayer and other duties of religion of their families, together with the ill example of their loose conversation, having, inured them first to a neglect and the contempt of all piety and religion? We know this will not excuse the blindness and wickedness of any, but certainly it will fall heavy upon those that have been thus the occasion thereof; they indeed die in their sins, but will not their blood be required of those under whose care they were, who yet permitted them to go on without warning – yea, led them into the paths of destruction? And will not the diligence of Christians with respect to the discharge of these duties in ages past rise up in judgment against and condemn many of those who would be esteemed such now?
Breakdown of the family unit in today’s society is something that not only Christians and churches worry about, but for many reasons politicians and sociologists are concerned with it as well. However, this isn’t just a problem that plagues our society today. It is a problem that for over 300 years church leaders have seen as something that needs to be addressed.
I live in a part of town that is known for some crime and general “lolly gagging” by people of all ages. This part of town is also known for single-parent homes or absent parents altogether. Latch key syndrome. Yes, this is definitely a problem and the breakdown of the family has been at least one cause, if not the leading cause, of the rise in crime among teenagers/college students. The trend continues.
I think another danger that we have to be careful of is a type of legalism. I was watching a video the other day that showed four youth getting baptized. All of them said something like this: “My parents raised me in a Christian home and we read the Bible, did Christian things, etc. But, it wasn’t until later that I accepted Christ.”
The Psalms and Proverbs talk much about delighting in the Word, meditating on the Word, etc. Deuteronomy 6 tells fathers to talk about the Word every chance you get – teaching it to your children. It is something we are commanded to do as parents. It is our main responsibility. But, we are parents cannot assume that our church going and Bible reading is going to save our children.
1. Shepherd your children. By leading home worship you are doing this very thing. Home Worship doesn’t need to be long and complex. Some ways my husband and I started doing it when we were engaged were praying together at night and reading a Bible verse at meal times. We look forward to continuing and building upon that when Baby Campbell arrives. If you have someone who can sing or play an instrument (or a YouTube video), incorporate singing into your home worship routine. Make sure the Word and the Gospel are intrigal parts of your time together and that you do it. It doesn’t have to be done every day, but some sort of schedule will help you keep doing it – habit, right?
2. Home Worship can’t save your children. In Elyse Fitzpatrick’s book Give Them Grace, she talks about rule following that would lead your children to be better Pharisees (in a negative light) than Christ-followers. The heart of your children need to be changed by a gracious God. We can’t save our children by doing more and better home worship, or demanding their obedience, or regulating their wardrobe, iPod playlist, or friends. We can give them the Word and pray for their salvation, showing them much grace and forgiveness as they are coming up in our homes.
Grace and discipline. The two go together in this thinking of home worship. We need to have discipline to do home worship with family members and show the Word of God as a permanent and prominent fixture in our home. One of the ways we are doing that as we prepare for Baby Campbell’s arrival is by adorning the nursery walls with Scripture. We also must rely on grace. We can’t possibly adhere to the true gospel and think that by us doing family worship, even every night of the week, will gain us (or our children) an audience and relationship with God – we can’t have that apart from Christ. The Gospel is D-O-N-E not D-O.
“As the years go by, more and more we realize that if our children turn out right, it is only because of amazing grace.” – Joel Beeke, Parenting by God’s Promises