A Neglected Grace: Family Worship in the Christian Home by Jason Helopoulos
Family worship is a lost art and tool to serve the living God. Gathering around together as a family to read the Scriptures, pray, sing and rejoice is often a practice that is relegated to special occasions. Yet, as author and pastor Jason Helopoulos reminds us, family worship is a living grace whereby we show our devotion to God. In the introduction, Jason reminds the reader that, “I hope that this book will be an encouragement to the reader to have a true resolve to engage in family worship, but only by, in, through, and because of the grace of God” (16). Family worship done with heavy hammer of guilt or out of sheer willful necessity will not bring about the joy that comes from knowing Christ. For the good of our families and a strong desire to delight in our Savior, family worship can be an example of building practices into the life of the family that will continue for a long while.
The first chapter opens with the concept of worship and its various spheres. There are three spheres of worship: secret, corporate and family relating the practices of personal, church, and family times of worship. Jason is clear to point out that all three of these spheres are to be in concert together. If one sphere of worship such as corporate worship is lacking (sparse in attendance), the other areas of worship will be dramatically affected (27). After basking in the light of Psalm 78 in chapter 2, Jason points us to the remarkable responsibility that a father has by writing, “When I think of my responsibility to care for my wife and children spiritually, I am not primarily concerned about passing on my subjective experiences. I am not concerned with passion on some fables or moral lessons. I am concerned with passing on the truth of our God – who He is and what He has done. As Christian parents, we have one of the greatest privileges in all of life: teaching our children to know God and His Word” (33). God’s Word brings us up front and center to God’s character, what he has done for us in Christ, and the way to live for Him. Jason is absolutely right in the weighty privilege to teach our children who God is and what he has done. Furthermore, Jason reminds us that we stand in a long line of saints before us in the great story of redemptive history. Do we see ourselves in this story? Do we see our children getting excited about God’s story in the Bible? Family worship is a means by which we open up the Word of God to our family for their encouragement, benefit, and training.
In Chapter 3, Jason mentions some practical reasons for developing family worship that were very helpful. Among these reasons, the idea that family worship binds the family together and provides a common knowledge of the Bible were two reasons that stuck out to me. Why? For one, our family is always running many different directions and having a set time of family worship focuses our attention on God and each other in a unique way. Even more, family worship binds our hearts together as we pray for each other, for God’s grace in our lives and even confess our sins and failings. Jason indicates also that most churches have age-defined groups that are teaching different Bible stories than their parents are learning. Having a shared Bible reading keeps the family focused on the same passage and also provides an opportunity to work through the texts together. I can’t tell you how many times my four year old daughter has asked questions about the sacrificial system , the prophets, and some of the customs of the Old Testament after we were reading the Bible together. Family worship is also a way for our young ones to soak up the Word of God so that it will be on their lips daily, carrying them through all of life’s ups and downs.
The rest of the book focuses on some practical aspects of family worship including elements of worship, manner of worship, and some common situations regarding children, unbelieving spouses, and inadequacy. The examples of how this plays out in the real-life examples in the book were very good pictures that family worship can look different while still keeping the same goal in mind. Jason also is wise to point in the book that engaging in family worship is not a guarantee that your children will be saved. There is no magic pill that if you practice family worship God will save your children (78). And yet, God is able to use family worship to pour out his grace.
I hope this book is a great encouragement to others desiring to practice family worship. I was impressed with Jason’s ability to encourage families with the wisdom that comes from family worship while also answering the questions I had in mind regarding family worship.
Thanks to Christian Focus Publications and Cross Focused Reviews for the free copy of this book in exchange for review.