Why Family Worship?
Purpose: Equip individuals and families to practice daily Christian worship and living.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16—18
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1—2
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4—9
PCPC vision statement:
Park Cities Presbyterian Church exists to extend the transforming presence of the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in Dallas and to the world.
PCPC five statements of purpose:
- We long to worship God together
- We know and live the Word of God
- We pray boldly and dependently
- We tell stories of rescue
- We long to change the world
We long to worship God together
What causes you to long to do something with another person? Is it not your love for that person and the joy that you both experience from doing that particular activity together? The Bible teaches that the greatest joy is to be in the presence of our God: “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). The Westminster Shorter Catechism echoes this teaching when it declares that “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Throughout the scripture we find that worship is characterized by God being present with His people. In fact, the Bible teaches that God’s plan of salvation culminates in His being with us forever:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1—4)
The Bible makes it clear that our greatest joy is to live in our Heavenly Father’s presence, to have conversation with Him, to engage with Him, and to hear from Him. Worship is the means that God has given us to know His presence in the most profound way. We hear from Him in the scriptures; we fellowship with Him in prayer, we enjoy Him in praise and celebration. Since the Bible makes it so clear that the greatest joy to be found in life is to worship God, why wouldn’t we want to share that with the people we love the most, especially our families?
One church, many members
The Apostle Paul describes the Church in this way, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:4—5). Among other things, this passage teaches that each individual Christian belongs to the single entity of the Church. The Church is one large, international, multigenerational family, united together in Christ with God as our Heavenly Father! As such, there are three important implications for life together as a worshipping congregation.
The first is that the worship life of the assembled community is intended to breathe life into the worship of the individual or family. The second is that every family and individual brings a unique contribution to the overall worship life of the church. Again, the first implication teaches us that worship in our homes is informed and strengthened through the worship life of the community. The second implication helps us understand that the strength of any worshipping community is made up of the sum of the parts; that any worshipping community is “incomplete” without the full participation of its members. The third implication of being One Body with many members is this: the connection is never broken. Worship does not cease because we are in our homes any more than parenting stops when we sit in the pew. Individually we represent and live for Christ just as much when we are away from the church building as when we are together.
God’s Covenant Faithfulness
We at PCPC believe that the family is the basic covenant unit according to the scripture. In other words, the ordinary way that God brings men and women, boys and girls, into His Kingdom is through the family. The promise first made to “Father Abraham” is a promise that God has faithfully kept to believing parents and their children from generation to generation. Mary speaks of this in her song in Luke chapter 2: “And His mercy is for those who fear Him from generation to generation”¦ He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever” (Luke 2:50, 54—55). Many families at PCPC enjoy a long Christian heritage. On the other hand, others belong to “first-generation households.” God may choose to begin a “new” Christian family at any generation that He chooses or to call individuals to Himself at any time, to the glory of His grace! In either case, whether you are a family unit or an individual Christian, you belong to the big family of the Church. God reorients our family life when we become His adopted children!
The scriptures give many commands and reminders to parents about bringing up children in the nurture and fear of the Lord. Individually, the apostle Peter exhorts us to “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). As followers of Christ, we are commissioned to pass on what has been given to us in the gospel to the world, with a special obligation to disciple our children. As a church body, we do this together as the whole body in worship and Sunday School, but also at home.
Worship around the clock
We also believe that the Church should always be worshipping; we are just not always together. This is true of the One Church around the world, but also true here locally at PCPC. The Bible speaks of the whole Christian life as being an act of worship: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16—18).
The content of home worship
The content of worship at PCPC is determined by the scriptures. We believe the Lord Himself teaches us in the scripture how He wants to be worshipped. This principle is true for the gathered community as well as the “scattered community.” Interestingly, the Bible does not assign any act of worship to the individual that it does not also give to the Church as a whole. The Bible does, however, give the gathered community some special things which do not take place in the home. This reminds us that our earthly homes are not really our homes; our home is ultimately with the Lord. Therefore, the content of corporate worship and home worship are similar but not identical. For example, the PCA Book of Church Order teaches that both sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are for public worship only. Offerings are not taken at home but brought from the home. The specific acts of worship which are profitable in the home are prayer (praise, confession, intercession, thanksgiving), the reading and teaching of the Bible (reading, memorization, recitation of creeds and catechisms, instruction), and singing.
Home worship is powerful
Home worship is a powerful tool for discipleship. Daily Bible reading, prayer, singing, and memorization of catechisms and creeds all work together to grow strong Christians. Consider these words from Terry Johnson:
“If your children are in your home for 18 years, you have 6,570 occasions (figuring six days a week) for family worship. If you learn a new Psalm or hymn each month, they will be exposed to 216 of these in 18 years. If you read a chapter a day, you will complete the Bible four and a half times in 18 years. Every day they will affirm a creed or recite the law. Every day they will intercede on behalf of others. Think in terms of the long view. What is the cumulative impact of just 15 minutes of this each day, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, for 18 years? At the rate of six days a week (excluding Sunday), one spends an hour and a half a week in family worship (about the length of a home Bible study), 78 hours a year (about the length of the meeting hours of seven-weekend retreats), 1,404 hours over the course of 18 years (about the length of the assembly house of 40 week-long summer camps, assuming about 30 such hours in an average week-long camp). When you establish your priorities, think in terms of the cumulative effect of this upon your children. Think of the cumulative effect of this upon you, after 40 or 60 or 80 years of daily family worship—all this without having to drive anywhere.” (The Family Worship Book by Terry Johnson, Christian Focus Publications, 2004, p. 10)
It is our prayer at PCPC that you would be fully engaged in worship in all areas of your life. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer given is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Do you want to enjoy God forever? Start by enjoying Him to the fullest now!