Bro. Jeff Summers is an incredible asset to our Trinity family as he has such a passion to develop our children under the Word of God....this passion stems from his understanding of the need for the Word in his own children, in his family and in his own life. Bro. Jeff has been a proven, tried and true friend - a man that is faithful to his calling. I am so thankful that God has allowed me to serve alongside Bro. Jeff all these years - he has such a precious family and my family treasures the friends we have in them. I know that, as you read his blog about family worship - you will understand when I say that his passion for the spiritual growth of the families at Trinity is a blessing and we will all be more equipped and more inspired to lead our families because of his example.
Now, From Bro. Jeff Summers....
Even though I grew up in a home with Christian parents, we didn’t have family worship times. My parents took me to church, of which I am very thankful, and they were faithful to the body of Christ and served faithfully. So, I did have good models of faithfulness to the Lord and his church.
When our children came along, I had to struggle to learn what it means to equip my children with the truth of God. I didn’t know how to exactly lead them simply because I didn’t have someone to model for me. There is no where in Scripture that explicity teaches parents how to have family worship. It was and continues to be a learning process for us as they have grown, and now that two of my children are teenagers and my third is on the precipice of being a preteen, I have to adapt my teaching style again.
My sons, Zach and Cob, are 15 and 14 respectively, and my daughter Katey Jo is about to turn eleven. When they were younger and we began to have family nights, I began with a series of worship materials found on a website: www.famtime.com. This was a great resource because the lessons were active, used object lessons, and activities to teach important truths from God’s Word. The kids loved them and look forward to our times. Plus, it was good for Carol Ann and me because they were easy to do and gave us success as parents. It took all of about 15 minutes each night to conduct these lessons.
Some of the struggles that we have now, that we didn’t have before, deal with our various schedules; for example, our boys are now attending public school and playing football. Before, our kids were always homeschooled or went to a Christian school, so our schedules were more flexible. As the children have gotten older, it takes more effort to make sure we schedule our time together for family worship time. With homework taking up our evenings, on top of other activities, we’ve had to adjust our times. Then, you add some attitudes that come with growing teenagers, and you can have a perfect storm if you don’t keep yourself in check - and I have had to ask forgiveness for this at times.
For our family - at this season in our lives - we schedule at least one sit down teaching time per week. At this time, we are going through Big Truths for Young Hearts. This is great material, doctrinally sound and deep. So, we are taking our time going through this book, because it is challenging. We typically get together in the living room after we eat. We begin with prayer and I will read a chapter and we will spend some time discussing the topic at hand. I try to keep it moving and, for our age children, 30 minutes of discussion time is good. Then, we close with any family issues that we need to address, prayer requests, and close in prayer.
Additionally, we are spending time reading scripture and praying before they go to school…we find that works really well for our schedule. At night we take some time to read another passage of scripture or go through a question in our catechism book, or read through a section of a book at night before bed…again, flexibility helps but commitment is the key! These times of Scripture reading take ten to fifteen minutes-one to set the day and one to close it out in reflection – but it keeps the Word before them and keeps all of us focused.
As they have gotten older, they also need more individual time. I try to spend some time with the boys, and a separate time with Katey Jo. I’ve started meeting with the boys after school on Fridays for a Bible study, and then we grab a bite to eat. This also helps us stay connected in our relationship with one another-we can cut up and talk about things (serious and, ok….not so serious) and they have my undivided attention. They look forward to our time. Right now we are starting a series on helping them know how to study the Bible. Katey Jo is our tennis player and, since she loves it so much, we will spend these warm afternoons playing and then having our talks with her during our cool down time. AWANA also helps us structure her instruction in God’s Word because there is so much required in her handbook.
I don’t know about how others incorporate music, but we don’t typically sit around on the couch singing - even though we have two beautiful singers in Carol Ann and Katey Jo. The boys, including me, love music but, let’s face it – sometimes the voices just don’t match the desire. Well, I should speak for myself….
There are times when we don’t stick to our schedule for whatever reason - I could easily say we have to do it this or that way, and make it something that is legalistic. But, our lives ebb and flow and I have to realize that I am teaching all the time through my attitude and actions. The key is consistency and to take advantage of teaching moments as life happens. Our family needs the formal teaching times, but some of the greatest teaching times are applying scripture to the stuff of life – you know, reacting Biblically when conflict happens and then talking about it….discussing our weaknesses and looking for ways to tell them how we see God’s grace in their lives. The key is keeping the Word infused in life – not just on the shelf until you head out the door to church – but showing them how you apply it in a moment by moment, conscious, daily thoughtfulness about the things of God.
Will we have blindspots? Yes. Can I cover everything in the Christian life? No. This is where I also depend upon my church family to give affirmation of what I am teaching at home… and equip my family in areas that I may not be aware of or I may overlook. This is the wonderful partnership between my family and my church family. The church equips, ministers, and holds me accountable. Will I be held accountable to the Lord for what and how I teach my children? Most definitely!
I pray that these family worship blogs encourage you as you strive to pierce the hearts of your children with God’s Word!