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The Rev. Britt (right in red shirt) and Alison Gilmore (back to camera) say grace with their family. The Gilmores are United Methodist Missionaries serving in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at East Belfast Mission. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

The Rev. Britt (right in red shirt) and Alison Gilmore (back to camera) say grace with their family. The Gilmores are United Methodist Missionaries serving in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at East Belfast Mission.

8 solid tips to bring back family worship

By Darby Jones

So many families are on the go these days. Sitting down for a family dinner is so passé.  At least, that’s what many teenagers think. And forget any kind of family worship at home. Yet, spending time together intentionally discussing and experiencing God’s work in our lives should be one of our most important goals as a family. That’s why it is important as church leaders to equip parents with the tools to bring back family worship. 

Include these family worship tips in your sermon and add them to your website, blog and newsletter: 

1. You don't have to know everything to lead. Parents don’t have to be Bible scholars or know all the answers to start a family worship time. You just need the willingness to lead your family and follow God's guidance.

2. Create a worship space in the house. This place should show the connection between Christ and the family. Praying and bonding together in this space will make it sacred.

3. Set a time for spiritual bonding. The time and length of family worship depend on the age and attention span of family members. If someone isn’t available, have a backup plan. Set a virtual prayer time (for example, at 6 p.m., remember to say a quick prayer with and for the family, no matter where you are). Be consistent about bonding at the same time and it will soon become a habit.

4. Challenge your family to a night without television. Even better, make it a “No Screen Night,” which excludes video games, computers and phones as well. This time can occur as often as a family determines (perhaps monthly or weekly). Blocking all distraction frees time for family worship, letter writing, board and active games, sports or general conversation and discussion. Mix up the activities, especially for younger children with short attention spans.

It won’t be long before family members look forward to the time and realize the most important things in life are free. However, small rewards can be fun and even can be a part of stewardship lessons. Children will love the extra attention from their parents. Don’t be surprised if the stories of memories made from this time together get a little bigger each time they are told!

5. Work together on a community volunteer project. This is a chance to focus on others (and on what Jesus calls us to do) while spending time together. It's also a great teaching opportunity that will enrich the community and lives of others.

Parents can start by asking their pastor about community ministries that can use the family’s help. Contact your conference Volunteers in Mission coordinator to find out about good service opportunities for families. Another great resource is VolunteerMatch, an organization that strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. You can find volunteer opportunities in your community and narrow search results by keywords to find opportunities that interest your family.

Church leaders should consider starting a skills database that lists the areas of expertise of all willing volunteers. Learn how to connect people in need with volunteers or other charitable organizations. 

6. Prepare. It doesn’t have to take a long time. Read a favorite Bible verse and think about the theme that you’d like to share. Cokesbury offers several family devotionals to help with this process. Develop a list of simple faith questions (e.g. Where have you seen God today? How do you think we can apply Sunday's sermon?) While watching a television show, plan to discuss, during a commercial, how one of the characters could have acted like Jesus.

7. Create a family gratitude journal to promote interaction.
Create a family gratitude journal using a hole punch and some ribbon. Keep the book in the family worship space. Each person is responsible for documenting at least one thing for which he or she is most grateful every day ... more than one is highly encouraged. Little ones can draw something special, cut out a picture or glue on something from nature that they found. Ideally, everyone will have something positive to share.

8. Provide examples on how to pray aloud. Discuss times and situations when it is appropriate to pray, such as before bed, before meals, upon waking, upon receiving good news, when worried or afraid, when you hear an emergency siren, when you hear bad news or when facing a problem  with a friend or sibling.

Prayer times are also good times to look up Bible verses. Show your family how to use a Bible concordance so they know how to look up verses that relate to their problems.