One of the best ways for the church as a whole to develop a healthy worship culture is when families are worshiping God together in their homes. My oldest child is about to be six years old and during these early years our family worship time, I have learned a few things through trial and error (mainly error), that hopefully will be an encouragement to you as you seek to raise your own family in the ways of the Lord.
Ask Questions. You don’t have to give a 30 minute sermon or lecture. Children probably won’t learn that way. I have found that while I’m reading Scripture or telling a Bible story, if I ask pointed questions about what a particular word or phrase means or how we can apply a certain element of truth. As we go along, I will gently correct their wrong answers, and I will encourage them when they answer correctly. This has been very effective in my kids growing in their knowledge of Christ.
Sing Songs. This one is easy for us because we are a musical family. Even if you are not, I would encourage you to find ways to incorporate singing into your worship time because we remember what we sing. Colossians 3:16 tells us to let the Word dwell in us, to teach, and to admonish...through singing. An idea that we have adopted from Keith and Kristyn Getty is to have a “Hymn of the month.” This way, kids are learning theology through song, and they are learning to engage in worship through music as well.
Make it Fun. No one benefits from boring worship. Adults will check out if worship time is boring, so you know children will. Try really hard to show them that worship is joyful and satisfying. When making this a fun time, it is important to...
Be Creative. Now, this is the area that my wife excels in. Before we had kids, she was a kindergarten teacher. So, she is really gifted in coming up with activities or teaching methods that really resonate with our children. Husbands, it is our role to be the spiritual leader of our homes, but if your wife is more creative than you, allow her to use her gifts to help you lead your family well.
Embrace the Mess. Family worship time is full of chaos...every night. Every...single...night. The kids shove, argue over who they get to sit by, interrupt with irrelevant (but important to them) stories, burp, fart, blow buggers, you name it. I have to constantly pray for patience in this way and just accept the mess. They are benefiting from this time even though it feels like the universe is spinning out of control. Messiness is just part of it. The important part to remember, is while it is messy...
Consistency is Key. Your kids won’t remember the messiness of your family worship. They won’t remember the bickering with their brother(s) and/or sister(s). What they will remember is their parents reading Scripture and telling Bible stories to them. They will remember listening to the prayers of their dad and hearing their mom’s voice as you all sing praises to God. Even when you feel like you aren’t knocking it out of the park, just keep it up. They will remember the good. They will be shaped and molded by it.
Better late than never. What if your kids are already teenagers? What if they are all grown up with kids of their own? Just be transparent. Acknowledge the fact that you didn’t do this when they were little, and make a new start today. They will respect your honesty and willingness to try to follow God more faithfully. It will be a great thing for them to see you try to start this new pattern in your life now than for you to never even try.