The Friday afternoon session that I chose to attend was one led by Donald Whitney on the subject of family worship. This had been the one session that I was looking forward to the most, but ironically, this is the one session that perhaps I gained the least from. While Donald Whitney is a great author and I’m sure a good lecturer, the personal feeling that all the other sessions had, including the general session speakers, was not there. Further, I was disappointed when I immediately realized he was basically reading from his book, Family Worship in the Bible, in History & in Your Home – a book I had just purchased the previous day. Perhaps it was this sense of simply reading from his book that gave it the non-personal feeling.
In this book (and subsequently, this session), Whitney discusses family worship from a few Bible verses such as Deut. 6:4-7 and Josh. 24:15. He spends a good deal of space (and the vast majority of the time of the session) talking about family worship in the lives of Christian heroes down through church history such as Martin Luther, Matthew Henry, Charles Spurgeon and John G. Paton. While this was very interesting to read in his book, the time spent reading word for word lengthy biographical sections from the book bordered on tedious. He has some practical advice for families wanting to either start family worship or perhaps need encouragement in what they are doing. He offers three main elements of family worship: reading and explaining the Bible, praying, and singing. He also mentions other options such as catechizing, using Scripture memory verses or other reading. He then deals with some objections or concerns that might be brought up such as what to do if the children are very young or what if there is a wide range of ages among the children.
Perhaps I should clarify something at this point. While the actual content of the session was disappointing, I learned a very important lesson. See, when I first decided to come to the conference, it was with the intention of learning how to lead my family in worship (see this post). In fact, I had originally tried to sign up for another session, “Training Children to Worship God” as well as the “Family in Worship.” The first was already filled and the second I had to shuffle some things around in order to be able to attend. And as I mentioned, this session was ironically perhaps the one that I did not learn very much about what I had intended to learn – namely, family worship. But by the time we left on Saturday afternoon, I realized that God had so much more for me to learn than practical tips for leading family in worship. Although family worship is very important, I personally needed (and still need) to gain a better understanding of the God I worship. I cannot properly lead my family in a worship that I don’t really grasp.
Because of the other sessions I was “forced” to attend and because of the general sessions, I realized that my focus was entirely incorrect. I was worried about what I could learn practically for the sake of my family instead of simply wanting to come and learn about God and be overwhelmed with the desire to worship only HIM. Now when I think of family worship, it’s with a desire to have them join with me in praising Him.