Family Worship

God makes it clear in Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6, and other Scriptures that parents are responsible to raise their children to trust in Christ and walk in obedience to God’s commands. But for many parents, the topic of family worship brings up feelings of discouragement, failure, or striving. In this episode, Bob and David talk about ways of avoiding the two extremes of pressure and apathy, and offer practical ideas for leading your kids to love God and his Word.


Jesus Storybook Bible

The Garden, The Curtain and the Cross

The Gospel Story Bible

The Ology

Long Story Short

Old Story New

Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm

Might Acts of God, Wondrous Works of God

Seeds Family Worship

Seeds Family Worship

Corner Room Music

Sovereign Grace Kids Albums


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Bob Kauflin: There’s sometimes you’re just being faithful.

David Zimmer: Welcome to Sound Plus Doctrine, the podcast of Sovereign Grace Music where we explore what the Bible has to say about music and worship in the church and encourage those who plan, lead, and participate in their Sunday gatherings each week.

DZ: Yeah, yeah.

BK: And the fact that you are taking time to either sing or pray or read God’s word means something to your children.

DZ: Hello, and welcome to the Sound Plus Doctrine podcast. My name is David Zimmer.

BK: My name is Bob Kauflin.

DZ: And we have a wonderful topic today, Bob.

BK: Yes.

DZ: This topic I’m very excited about, it is about family worship. I can’t believe in six seasons we haven’t talked…

BK: We’re lame.


BK: What can I say?

DZ: About family worship, it’s so applicable if you have kids. So I have three kids. My oldest is seven, five, and then one and a half.

BK: And so, you probably have half an hour devotions every night, just all the kids sitting around the table.

DZ: Yes.

BK: Maggie sitting up in her little seat.


DZ: They’re all quiet, perfectly listening.

BK: Just like my family. [laughter] No. I think, I can jump right in here. I think parents, one of the reasons we wanted to do this was parents tend to go to two extremes. One is they just feel a lot of pressure, Christian parents.

DZ: Yes.

BK: To do this thing, family worship, and they get books on it. By the way, there are more resources available for this than ever in the history of mankind, but then that just puts more pressure on you, “Okay, I’ve got all the resources, I’ve got to do something.” And then you maybe have kids of different ages, unless you have twins or triplets, and then they’re all the same age, and that’s even harder. And you’re just feeling pressure, so, part of what we want to do in this podcast is speak to you about God’s grace and God’s forgiveness and the Holy Spirit who helps us do these things. The other side of it is parents who don’t feel that much responsibility at all, they just feel like, “Well, I’ve got the church.” Or when they get older, “We’ve got vacation Bible school, or.”

DZ: Exactly, or Christian school, or.

BK: Camp, or somebody’s gonna do it.

DZ: Yes.

DZ: No, you’re responsible to do it. Deuteronomy, 6 talks about, I think I have this in here somewhere, verses 5 through 9. God’s giving instructions to his people and this would apply to us today. You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might, these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. So it’s first important for us to know what we want to pass on. “You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in you house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise.” And actually, this is a number of points I wanna share. That’s gonna lead into the first point. But before I get there, just if… Is it Ephesians or Colossians where it talks about how parents are to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, that’s our job. So it’s not as though we can, as parents, just say someone else is gonna do this.

DZ: Right.

BK: I’m just going to look this up real quick because I think it’s important that we hear from the Lord just what our responsibility is, just bond servants, children, it’s Ephesians 5, I can’t believe I’m doing this. Alright, let me find it, it’s right here in the Bible and Ephesians 6 says that we are to “not provoke our children to anger, but raise… Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

DZ: Yes.

BK: So it is our responsibility.

DZ: Yes.

BK: And what we wanna talk about today is ways of doing that, ’cause I think we do have this mindset that there’s one way to do it. A number of years ago, Keith Getty asked me to do a seminar, a breakout with my two sons, Jordan and Devon, about family worship but I think he misunderstood my experience, my practice, ’cause it was…


DZ: Who he was asking.

BK: Yes, ’cause it was supposed to be how you pass this on to your children. Really, as I was raising our six kids, with along with Julie, we had a lot of ambitions, but I felt like many times it was more ad hoc, kind of spontaneous, lots of times motivated by guilt. We would sometimes put together scripture songs on a particular character quality. I remember reading through a picture, a Bible, multiple times as a family but nothing seemed to really stick. But looking back over the years, as many times happens in parenting, you look back and you learn more from what you did badly than what you did well.

DZ: Yes, right.

BK: But I did realize the Lord showed us a lot during those years and whether they were short-lived or failed attempts, they were attempts and we wanna encourage you, if you’re a parent, or think you will be a parent one day, we wanna encourage you in thinking about your family worshiping the Lord together and what that’s supposed to look like.

DZ: Yes, exactly.

BK: So I was going to share some of the points I shared at that…

DZ: Yeah, excellent.

BK: Breakout with… At the Sing Conference. First is just, when we think of family worship, we tend to think of a meeting, a gathering, it’s really a 24/7 task. It’s teaching our children to treasure Christ, can’t be confined to a meeting. So that’s where that scripture from Deuteronomy applies. It’s not just once, it’s when you walk by the way, it’s when you lie down, it’s when you rise, it’s all the time.

DZ: Yeah.

BK: So before I think about helping my children sing to the Lord, pray to the Lord, read His word, I want them to understand that the Lord is in charge of everything, that He is God over all, that He is good, that He is just, that He is kind, it involves the way we speak to them, our kids, the way we think about music and glorifying God, it involves having a desire to obey the Lord and not just doing these things because we’re supposed to.

DZ: Yes.

BK: So it’s all of life.

DZ: Right, because and even the last point you made, doing things because we’re supposed to, can even sometimes create a hypocrisy…

BK: Yes.

DZ: In us as parents because we think like, oh, well this 30 minutes, this is the divine time.

BK: It’s checking it off the list.

DZ: Where you will learn and you will obey. And then you miss opportunities. I mean, so much is just picked up by kids.

BK: Yes, yes.

DZ: How you respond, how they see you interacting in this situation.

BK: Yes, yes.

DZ: And one thing Devon said…

BK: My son.

DZ: Your son.

BK: Okay.

DZ: And one thing Devon said that was so helpful to me when we were having a conversation was just saying always talking to your kids at any age about God’s good design. And I’m sure you might mention this in here…

BK: Yes, yes.

DZ: But it’s that 24/7 that you’re talking about.

BK: Yes, yes.

DZ: God’s good design for this, and this and this and this random thing you just brought up, there’s God’s good design in that. And so that constant shepherding.

BK: Yes.

DZ: Should relieve the pressure of feeling like it has to be this structured thing.

BK: Well, and it makes more sense then why we would go to his word, why we would sing, why we would talk to God, because He’s already a part of the conversation.

DZ: Yes, good.

BK: So when I’m with my grandkids, we’ll see this amazing formation of clouds in the sky. And I might say, rather than, “Wow, that’s cool.” I would say, “Isn’t that amazing that God made the clouds to look like that?”

DZ: Yes, right.

BK: Or just bringing God into the conversation.

DZ: That’s great.

BK: So that’s the first thing, it’s 24/7.

DZ: That’s great.

BK: Second, start where your family is, if you’re getting started, start where your family is not where another family is. So you might have no kids, young kids, or you might be right in the middle of it. And I remember in one season, I think we had all six kids and there was another family in the church with 10 kids. And I just remember, they were a model of orderliness, the godliness, maturity. They would have half an hour, hour-long family devotions most days of the week, and I was always trying to get my family to look like theirs. God doesn’t expect our family to look like someone else’s. He made our family the way it is with our experiences, with our backgrounds, He starts with what we have.

DZ: Excellent.

BK: And if you have another family who’s going through Leviticus with their four and five-year-old and you’re just thinking, “Oh my gosh, what am I doing? I can’t even get him to sing a song.” Don’t think you have to be like them.

DZ: That’s good.

BK: God’s gonna give you something unique for your family, so start where your family is.

DZ: Good.

BK: Third, a plan can help keep you on track.

DZ: Definately.

BK: So even though I tried many plans, we tried many plans. It just helped keep us on track, we don’t have to always come up with something amazing, fresh, life-changing, and creative, it would just be exhausting. And one thing I say is you don’t want your times of family worship to be a burden to you and I think too many times they were a burden for me. I felt like I had to come up with something just amazing, and I couldn’t. So there are so many resources available now, what are some of the ones that you have used? I mean, your oldest is seven so… Yeah, just…

DZ: Oh, there’s been awesome resources, we use the Jesus Storybook Bible. That’s been a wonderful resource to us, ’cause those are quick, but they can also be conversational.

BK: Yes.

DZ: I just love how that’s written. I think one other that’s been really good has been The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross.

BK: Yeah, Good Book Company publishes those.

DZ: Yeah, yeah. I mean, my kids love art, they love graphics…

BK: Yes, yes yes.

DZ: They love to see the pictures, I think they really respond to that. And then outside of that, we like to listen to music too ’cause we’re just a musical family. And I don’t know about our listeners but I have slept on our kids albums in Sovereign Grace Music. I mean, they are excellent in the car, after dinner.

BK: Let’s do a quick plug, we have five kids albums.


DZ: I didn’t intentionally mean to bring this up, but they’re so good.

BK: I think they are the most under-recognized things that Sovereign Grace Music has done.

DZ: They are so good.

BK: Yeah, one on the fruit of the Spirit, one on the parables, one on the character of God, one called “The Ology”, there’s one other one that’s not coming to mind right now.

DZ: One, “Listen Up!”.

BK: Yeah, it’s the parables.

DZ: It’s the parables, that’s just really good, The catchy. But it’s just getting it into the DNA of our daily life.

BK: Yes, yes, yes, yes. So, other things that I think we used to do through the years were the Gospel Story Bible, Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments with Marty Machowski. Marty Machowski is a pastor in Sovereign Grace Church outside of Philadelphia. Theology, so Marty has asked us to put together some albums for some of the books he’s written, that was one of them.

DZ: They’re great.

BK: Which is one of my favorite. Another book by Marty, Long Story Short, Old Story New, there’s the Big Picture Story Bible by David Helm. You already mentioned the Jesus Storybook Bible. Mighty Acts of God, Wondrous Works of God by Starr Meade and you mentioned The Garden, the Curtain, and The Cross. Good Book Company has, I think, a series of about 15 books for kids, which are excellent. I haven’t read all of them, but the ones I’ve read are just fantastic. But whatever fits your age range, and sometimes you need to think range, not just one child, depending on how many kids you have. So, having a plan where you’re gonna just go through it, and it doesn’t have to be amazing every time, you’re just walking through it one day at a time, one day a week or how often you do it. Having a time of day or week is also helpful.

DZ: It’s super helpful. I mean, just for us, dinnertime is like the one place we’re all gonna be sitting.

BK: Yes, a lot of families do that.

DZ: And not running around, we’re eating, and it can be conversational.

BK: Can I… It also trains your kids to enjoy conversation at the table.

DZ: Yes.

BK: Because as kids get older they will start to want to bolt.

DZ: Oh, my goodness, they bolt now.

BK: Okay, never mind.

DZ: But you’re absolutely right. But it’s the training that we’re trying to do, too. Training them to stay and let’s talk, let’s talk about these things.

BK: I mean, there are families who start really young with family worship, family devotion times, and they just every night after dinner, that’s what they do, that’s a great practice.

DZ: It is.

BK: If your oldest is 10, you know, you got a 10, a 7, and a 3 and you’re saying all of a sudden now, “Okay, we’re doing this.” It might seem a little bit…

DZ: Yeah, jolting.

BK: Yes, so give people give your kids, start with where they are.

DZ: That’s great.

BK: The other point we’re making, just start with where they are. So have a plan. Number four, let your family worship flow out of your personal devotion to God’s word. So this is along the lines of not feeling pressure. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just share what you learned in your devotions that day. Now, if you have nothing to share, that could be a problem.

DZ: Yeah, right.

BK: Because you’re putting this idea of family worship before your own relationship with the Lord.

DZ: Great.

BK: And if you’re not getting fresh manna from the Lord, as it were, it’s gonna be hard to give it out. So, some of the best times I remember were times when we would talk to the kids about this problem we were having, this thing that was happening. We didn’t know if this was gonna come through or this person’s sick, or. And just sharing about that and how God has spoken to that and then praying about it. It’s just, yeah, that’s just life and they have to see us live it.

DZ: Absolutely.

BK: Know too many families who have had great family devotions, family worship times, or at least consistent, but their kids have never gotten the connection between those and life. So it’s become more like this duty that you do.

DZ: Yes.

BK: And don’t make your family worship times a duty.

DZ: Right, right.

BK: They want to see, and they have to see the effect of the gospel on our lives, the effect of God’s word on our lives, so are we fearful? Do we walk around glum all day? Do we feel condemned? Are we short? It’s not really helpful if we have this successful worship, family worship time, and then five minutes later we’re just barking at our children, they’re going, wait a minute, wait a minute, they…

DZ: Yes.

BK: Might not even know what the disconnect is, but they’ll just, over time they’ll just get the sense we do this thing family worship but it doesn’t really affect the way we live.

DZ: Yep,.

BK: So, asking forgiveness when things you’ve sinned against them, just use your life, let your family worship at times flow out of your relationship with the Lord.

DZ: So good.

BK: And your relationship with God’s word.

DZ: Yep.

BK: Number five, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. We’ve heard another iteration of that, worth doing well, but what I mean by that is at times I wanted to do the exact right thing for family worship. Have everything perfect in place, the whole thing planned out for six months and I never got around to it or I feared that I wouldn’t be able to keep it up and… Or tried to make sure the schedules, the situation we’re all perfect and it just rarely happened. Get frustrated and it just wouldn’t happen.

DZ: Oh, especially ’cause the consistency can feel crippling, for us.

BK: Yes, yes.

DZ: Because my life is busy and your life is busy, and I’m sure it was busy back then as well, and that can feel crippling as a dad as a parent to go. Well, if it’s not consistent, then…

BK: Yes.

DZ: But exactly what you’re saying, God is gonna use your efforts.

BK: Yes.

DZ: In however ways you sow.

BK: Worth doing badly.

DZ: Yep.

BK: It’s not up to our perfect execution of whatever plan we have. It’s up to the power of his Spirit working through you, the power of the gospel, which is the power of God, the power of God’s word, which performs its work in those who believe and so we are just seeking to be faithful. Part of the problem may be that we’ve set our sights too high.

DZ: Yeah, totally.

BK: Maybe you’re a once a week family worship.

DZ: Yeah.

BK: Family, maybe three times…

DZ: Can you even say that?

BK: I’m sorry, should I have said that? I mean, really, a lot of guys I know who have children, grown children walking with the Lord will say, “Yeah, our times of family worship weren’t so great.” Or we didn’t have them that often. So it’s… I’m not commending that, what we’re saying is more no seek to raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

DZ: And it’s not gonna be perfect.

BK: It’s not gonna be perfect, and it’s not gonna always look the same in every family or even in your family.

DZ: In every season, even, yeah.

BK: In every season.

DZ: Yeah, yeah for sure.

BK: Number six, show and tell, don’t neglect either. Again, the extremes we’re thinking of here are we gotta tell them everything. We’ve gotta get them in the catechisms, we’ve gotta get them memorizing scriptures, which is a great thing to do when your kids are young. We need to tell them everything. We’re gonna instruct them, that’s the way we’re gonna get their hearts. Well, that’s part of the way they get what the Lord wants to say.

DZ: Yeah.

BK: The other part is through our example as we were talking about earlier, just the things we model, do we model trust? Do we model faith? Do we model joy? Do we model compassion? Do we model humility? So show and tell, show with your life. Tell with those times of looking in scripture and don’t try to make everything amazing, there’s sometimes you’re just being faithful.

DZ: Yeah, yeah.

BK: And the fact that you are taking time to either sing or pray or read God’s word means something to your children.

DZ: Yep.

BK: Which leads to the next point, number seven, the burden is on parents to make family worship times short and interesting enough to be engaging to the age of your children. The burden’s on the parents to make family worship times compelling which… I didn’t always think that way.


BK: Julie would always say… She would often say to me, on an occasionally good night of family worship, she’d say, “You know, you always go like five minutes longer than you should.” We’ll have this engaging conversation with the kids, and I think this is going great we’re gonna dig deeper, and the kids are feeling like, okay, almost done. And I’m thinking, no, I got them right in the palm of my hand and I just wouldn’t get it, it was so hard for me to get it.

DZ: Especially if you’re a pastor and you think, okay, here are the five points.


BK: Yes, yes, yes kids, kids, I’m only on point four, we got another point coming.

DZ: That’s so good.

BK: And so as your kids are young, make it enjoyable. I see this so much more easily with my grandkids, I don’t feel this pressure to… Every time I read a book to them, to read every word sometimes they just like to look at the pictures.

DZ: Exactly.

BK: And as a parent, I’d feel like, oh, I’m not being faithful as a dad.

DZ: Right and I think we see disobedience and we immediately think to be…

BK: Well, what we perceive is disobedience.

DZ: Yeah, exactly, that’s exactly it. We perceive it that way and it just could be that it’s not compelling, it could also be…


BK: Well, that thought never crossed my mind. [laughter]

DZ: It could definitely be disobedience and not wanting to be there. But again I think we keep coming back to if this is a part of the DNA of the family.

BK: Yes, yes.

DZ: And we’re always talking about this, it won’t feel as forced as it might seem if you’re trying to live within that structure.

BK: Yes, yep.

DZ: If a short devotional can be compelling to kids that could be enough.

BK: Yep, yes.

DZ: As you’re continuing to instruct them in different ways.

BK: They would say, leave them wanting more rather than filling it to overflow. [laughter] Where they’re filled up and you just keep pouring in and it’s just like going all over the counter onto the floor you know the basement and it’s just like nothing is happening here.

DZ: That is so funny.

BK: Number seven, number eight, don’t assume that excellent family worship times are gonna automatically produce adult children who love Jesus. You know, calm, orderly, engaged family worship times. I mean, that’s certainly a goal to aspire to but too many parents assume that the goal is to get the externals right.

DZ: Wow.

BK: Without really digging into issues of the heart. I mean, I’ve known families who have had consistent family worship times, but their kids aren’t doing well today or aren’t welcome with the Lord at all. So it is that 24/7 thing, and it is the power of God, it’s gotta be the work of God.

DZ: Absolutely.

BK: In our kid’s hearts. Our children have to become Christians for this all to take but we’re preparing them with family worship times we’re saying, this is, this is how we live, this is what reality is. And the more that that is a part of our big picture and not just a meeting, the more they’ll get to see that. What’s most important is not just that we have this time of singing, but that we understand we’re sinners before a Holy God. And that God and his mercy sent Jesus Christ to become one of us.

DZ: Yes.

BK: So that he might die as our substitute in our place and rise from the dead.

DZ: Yes.

BK: And he’s ascended to his father’s right hand, and he’s interceding and reigning over all things. And one day he’s coming back for his bride. That’s the story we want to tell over and over through our lives and through our relationship with them. So family worship, while important, isn’t a one-stop shop for raising godly adults.

DZ: So good. I know we don’t have to belabor that point, but I just want that to encourage anyone who’s listening who feels like maybe I’m failing as a parent.

BK: Absolutely.

DZ: Or maybe I have failed it, it is God who brings fruit.

BK: Yes.

DZ: Brings the fruit of our efforts.

BK: Yes.

DZ: I’m so glad you said that.

BK: Yep, number nine, and there are 10 of these, foster a culture of informed music lovers. And this has to do with the more the musical side of worshiping God. Obviously worship isn’t music, but music can certainly be a part of it.

DZ: And the memorization that can come with it is huge.

BK: Oh man. I know Seeds Family Worship has done scripture memory songs, others have done… Adam Wright with Corner Room Music has done great stuff. We want to produce an album of actually a set of songs, memory songs, scripture memory songs that walk kids through the Bible, for a young age and an older age. We’re working with John Althoff on that right now. So we want to teach them how music can be used, not just as a kind of for myself to be what I want it to be, make me feel happy, but it can be used to teach, it can be used to help us know God better. So as our children get older, it’s more important that we teach them that listening to music without godly discernment reveals a heart willing to flirt with love for the world. So you can’t just listen to any music for any reason. And we want to be talking with our kids about this, about what kinds of music they’re listening to, why they’re listening to it, and have those conversations, whereas rather than just giving them a yes or no, yes, no, no, no. Teach them music is a gift from God and it’s to be enjoyed for his glory. So that requires conversations.

DZ: Yep, very good.

BK: And then finally involve your children with you in serving the church. There is not to be this dichotomy, this vying for attention and affection between, we’ve talked about this in the podcast, between our ministry and our family.

DZ: It’s worth repeating.

BK: Help your kids cultivate a love for people, a love for having people over, a love for serving, seeing… ‘Cause I know that many of the people who listen to the podcast are musicians in the church, help them, your kids see that playing music is a privilege not a burden. Emphasize the kindness of God in allowing us to do what we do. When we do what we do with pressure and anxiety and every time mom or dads serving on the music team, it’s like they’re really, it’s hard to be around them.

DZ: Exactly, they pick up on it.

BK: Absolutely, and could be lyric projection. It could be serving in children’s ministry, any aspect of the church that you’re serving in.

DZ: Yep.

BK: Let your children see you do that with joy, make it appealing to them to think, “Oh, that’s really great that they get to do that.” So that’s a part of it too.

DZ: It’s so good. I think of my mom who was taking us to church, it was just her favorite place to be. And you pick up on that as a kid.

BK: Yes.

DZ: Even one who’s not walking with the Lord. And now I get to see my wife Julie do that with our kids. Isn’t it so exciting that we get to go to Sunday…

BK: Yes.

DZ: This is the best place to be and making it special for your kids, they observe all that.

BK: Yes.

DZ: They pick all that up.

BK: Yes, yes, and God uses it. He does things beyond what we can ask or think. And a lot of times we’re not even talking to our kids about it, they’re just seeing it, and they think this is something I want to do. Well, I think that’s all we got.

DZ: Yeah, thank you Bob.

BK: Yes, well.

DZ: And thank you for listening, we always pray that this podcast encourages you and gives you great faith.

BK: Yes, yes.

DZ: For doing this, to invest your life into your kids in this way.

BK: It is important.

DZ: It’s so important.

BK: I don’t wanna be too releasing and have people think, well, yeah. Just doesn’t really matter what you’re doing. No, it is really important. But it’s not just one time that’s important, a time of week, it’s your whole life. And this is an aspect of that, that can really… God can really use to shape your children. I know as a music leader in the church for years, that people can assume that you guys always just sing around the piano, you sing. We had times where I would… We would do that, it just wasn’t that great and it was like just, okay. But that’s not all there is to it.

DZ: Exactly.

BK: And we want this to be a means of encouraging you whatever stage you’re at to persevere, to do it with faith, to do it with trust that God is going to use your labors for his glory in the lines of your children.

DZ: Amen, amen, amen. Thank you, Bob and thank you for listening.