Great Books for Ministry: Family Worship
Donald S. Witney
God is utterly worthy of our praise and worship. On a daily basis he deserves the love and honour of everyone who lives and breathes. But no matter how extensive the pattern of corporate worship is at your church, it’s unlikely to provide daily gatherings for worship. As we seek to intentionally teach the next generation to know and fear the Lord, it is sobering to consider that “it is unlikely that exposure to the church once or twice a week will impress your children enough with the greatness and glory of God that they will want to pursue him once they leave your home.” (p. 14)
But while evangelicals have almost universally recommended a daily personal ‘quiet time,’ relatively few have given wider consideration to the spiritual disciplines of the saints of old. As a result, the practice of family worship has been largely overlooked by successive generations. Several recent books have sought to redress the balance by commending the practice of family worship to modern readers, of which Donald Whitney’s short and practical volume is the best. Families of all make-ups, ages, and stages would benefit from the encouragement that this book offers.
Witney does an excellent job of presenting a short and readable guide to the practice of family worship that persuasively presents the historical pedigree of the practice, encourages families to adopt an attainable pattern, and winsomely responds to potential objections. Witney proposes a simple but memorable pattern for families to use as they develop a habit of worshipping together: read the bible, pray, and sing. The strength of this pattern lies in its brevity and simplicity; by resisting the temptation to overcomplicate things with additional techniques, Witney allows families to form a habit that is achievable and sustainable.
This is certainly not the advice of an ivory tower theorist. One of the joys of Witney’s writing is that he doesn’t seek to induce his readers to action by guilt, instead, he encourages and inspires with a vision for the glory of God and a strategy that can be achieved. He recognises that in a sinful world, challenges will regularly arise that could prevent families from worshipping together. By taking a chapter to respond to common objections to family worship, Witney pastorally upholds the theological underpinnings of his project: “God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.” (p. 57).