26 November 2020
Seven tips on having family church time in your home with children.
Tip 1. I used to listen to a song called ‘Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls’ (sorry Duncan!). I haven’t thought about it for many years but on Saturday evening I was out for a walk praying about whether we should give up on trying to do ‘family church’ when I felt God speak to me by bringing that song to mind. As a 14-year-old I just liked the song and didn’t think much about what it meant but this time I felt God was saying to me not to chase after something dramatic and mind-blowing in the way we do family church. The song goes on “Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to…” That’s the link to Clevedon Marine Lake – it’s not a tropical island swimming spot but it’s been a place for many of us to swim this year.
So, tip 1 is to not put too much pressure on yourself to create an amazing experience. Gathering together with a weekly pattern to worship as church is part of our devotion to God. Sometimes we’ll have waterfall type dramatic encounters, but every time we come together to worship we’re aligning ourselves with God’s truth, plans and purposes. It’s one of the ways that we build our lives on the rock (Matthew 7.24) and will stay strong in the years ahead.
Tip 2. Hugh said after their first family church that each of their children had brought a contribution – one had chosen some songs from YouTube, another had drawn a picture and another brought something personal to share. That shared ownership made the time special. In the Bible Paul encourages members of the church in Corinth to each bring a contribution to their times of worship “When you come together, everyone has a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation or a tongue or interpretation. All of these must be done for strengthening the church.” (1 Corinthians 14.26) As you plan your time, have an idea of how you will lead it and include space to change it based on what your children might bring. Often with children the contributions can be surprising and sometimes hilarious. They bring some great insights to the Bible, again often seeing things very differently to adults. Listen out for God’s voice in what they say.
Tip 3. Kirsten’s first choice of a meeting place would probably be outdoors – in some woodland or a park with a view. I could imagine Andy & Sally weaving their family church into a bike ride with their boys, and the Watsons doing it in their tree house perhaps. What’s key is having a location that helps you focus for however long you need. We’ve found a fire pit in the garden or sitting round the fire indoors provides that for us, especially when everyone has a hot chocolate in hand. We used to house sit in a big house for our summer holidays. There was one room that we only ever used for our Sunday ‘family church’ and it became known as the ‘family church room.’ It helped that whenever we went into that room the children knew we were having some special time to worship and connect with God together. The book of Acts describes Christians meeting in the temple each day, and in the centuries since many churches have gathered in special church buildings to worship. We know that the church is the people not the building, but the location can help to differentiate the time.
Tip 4. In the time before you intend to have family church do you find yourself getting irritated or distracted or arguing with your children or like me wonder whether this is really worth it? Gathering like this to worship as a family is really unusual. It’s hard. It’s also incredibly powerful, and I would go so far as to say it could be an absolute game changer in the future of your children’s walk with God. We need a humility and connectedness with each other when we worship like this that we can otherwise avoid in the way we do life. We need to be sensitive to our children and to how they connect with God. On top of this learning to relate in a different way together we know that we have a spiritual enemy who doesn’t want us to connect with God and each other. He will stir up trouble to disrupt our time. Be alert to that, pray for Jesus’ blessing and protection, and put on patience, kindness and a gentle boldness as you lead your family into this new way of being together.
Tip 5. You know your children best. Customise family church to work for you. This will probably be a learning journey where it changes over time. Paul’s pattern with his four children (aged 5,7,9,11) is to gather in the living room on a Sunday at 10am. Paul leads some worship on his guitar, then they join the Hope livestream for Challenge Charlie and the first 15 minutes. Livestream worship doesn’t work so well for them so they come offline then and watch the Little Worship Company video and the Youth video. After that the children go and do their own thing whilst Paul rejoins the livestream for the talk. Pick and choose the ingredients that work for you. Some art or craft might feature in the Hames and Cooper households.
Tip 6. Children often enjoy a familiar structure. Here are some ideas and links to resources you could use. Think about having something good to eat and or drink as well. Let us know if you have other recommendations. We can update this blog as new ideas and links come in.
Have a time of thanking God
Join the Hope livestream
Worship with >Little Worship Company< from YouTube
Worship with > Bethel Kids Worship< from YouTube
Follow a theme – e.g. Jesus’ parables
Watch >Hope Youth Videos< on YouTube
Watch >Little Worship Company< on YouTube
Ask God for prophetic words of encouragement for each other
Ask God to give you an idea for someone you can bless at school
Tip 7. Though we’re separated we’re together in this!! Please share your success and struggles with this. We need to learn from each other and encourage each other. We’re praying for you as you take on this amazing opportunity to exercise muscles we haven’t used much before.
Let’s come out of the Covid-19 Revolution having grown in our faith as families. Wouldn’t it be good to look back at the Coronavirus time in the years ahead and say that some really hard things happened that year but we also started family church and that was special. The people of Israel looked back at their escape from Egypt as a time when they experienced God’s deliverance. They also experienced horrible persecution during that time and really hard journeys through desert, but in the Passover (the annual Jewish feast that Jesus used to explain the sort of rescue He was bringing) they celebrate the great work that God did in that time.