Dr. J. Ligon Duncan answers some practical questions about how, what, and why to lead family devotions with little, inattentive kids:
My own answer is you start family worship as soon as possible, as soon as one is married, and continue it after children come along, no matter how young the children are (and the younger the better). The point is not for the youngest children to be able to comprehend (or even to sit still during it!). The point is impress upon them, by paternal example the priority of God and his word in all of life. They learn this, even if they comprehend nothing in the reading, praying and singing, simply by seeing a father pausing day after day to read the word with his family.
An excerpt from his book Give Praise to God (P&R):
“Now there is a whole host of practical questions and problems that come to mind once we determine to begin family worship. How long should it last? It should be regularly brief, as little as 10 minutes when the children are very young. Gradually, it will run a little longer as they grow older and conversations strike up. Don’t kill it by trying to go too long. Pace yourself. Regularity and repetition is the key. When should we do family worship? When it works – morning/breakfast, suppertime or bedtime are the three most common times.
“… There are dozens of potential hindrances: a lack of discipline, a lack of sense of the importance of family worship, a lack of experience of family worship in one’s own upbringing and more.
“But above all, there is the enemy of idealism. You have this picture of a Puritan family sitting around the table attentively and reverently reading the whole book of 1 Chronicles at a sitting, singing half the Psalter from memory, and praying for ninety minutes, and then you look around your table and your wife is rolling her eyes, your two-year old is throwing left-over spaghetti around the kitchen, your eight-year old is making faces at her sister and your teenager would rather do calculus. Don’t let the gap between the ideal and the reality stop you! Those unattentive children will grow up and thank you for persevering, and the memories of a father who loved them enough to make that kind of an effort will etch a permanent affection in their hearts.”
President of Biblical Seminary, David Dunbar, has some great insights in the periodic Missional Journal. Sign up for e-letters here.
For those interested, I’ve posted some helpful resources for church planting at Church Planting Novice on Planting Manuals, Organic Church conferences, and a Missional Journal.
Here are some recommended CP manuals on the nuts and bolts of planting.
Gary Rohrmayer has planted tons of churches and wrote a helpful course called First Steps: Missional Church Planting. First Steps is strong on the nuts and bolts and guides the planter through six stages of the first year of missional church planting. These stages include:
- Relating to God and Others
- Networking and Gathering
- Building a Launch Team
- Designing Worship Services and Ministry Strategies
- Launching Public Services
- Establishing the New Community and its Ministries
Another one of its strengths is that it is principle, not model driven. So, it accommodates a variety of models and encourages contextualization. Though the course is launch driven, some of the templates for budgets, position descriptions, financial accountability, etc are helpful jumping off points. You can also purchase a membership at CoachNet that allows electronic access to the entire workbook and PDFs and take the course.
Redeemer Planting Manual
Tim Keller’s Redeemer Church Planting Manual is incredibly strong on missiology and philosophy of ministry. If you really want to know how to become lead missionary that cultivates a church of missionaries, follow Tim’s approach. At times, it is overwhelming (and I have background in Anthropology!), but there are a lot of riches to be found in this manual.
Church Planters Toolkit
Bob Logan’s Church Planters Toolkit is a standby that offers a lot of pracitcal helps and is used by the Evangelica Free Church. Logan has actually transformed some of his personal convictions about methodology and is now planting more organically. He co-wrote an expensive book on this with Neil Cole called Beyond Church Planting.
Dynamic Church Planting Handbook
Dynamic Church Planting Handbook is built around strong theological and pastoral foundations, but with modern methods. I found myself continually challenged to rely on the Holy Spirit, plant in spirtual health, and plant for the Glory of God when reading this manual. Some of the nuts and bolts were disappointing, however.