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Thursday, November 5, 2015

"Family Worship" (Donald S. Whitney)

TITLE: Family Worship
AUTHOR: Donald S. Whitney
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2016, (64 pages).

The powerful British Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon had wished more people would do it. The Barna Research Group show statistics about a more vibrant family because of it. Church people generally verbalized it as a good thing to have: Family Worship. Yet, it is another of those things that are widely spoken about but seldom practiced. Being a Christian is more than just going to Church. In this small book, author Donald Whitney shines light at this important topic so as to encourage more families to take family worship more seriously with tips and methods on how to do it. Dr Donald S. Whitney is Professor of Biblical Spirituality and Associate Dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has a website to accompany his work.

Beginning with an affirmation from Joshua 24:15, about the desire for the whole family to serve God, Whitney shows us several biblical injunctions on why family worship is important. Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah is a clue that the family recognizes the ritual of worship. Moses calls Israel to be faithful to God through the Shema. The book of Job begins with a description of how devoted Job is in worship. The Psalmists themselves are worshipers too! Over in the New Testament, Peter and Paul teaches us to maintain an attitude of worship.

Readers learn also that Church history is replete with examples of family worship. Tertullian in the second century wrote about believers who got married are seen praying, worshiping, fasting, instructing, and encouraging one another in the Word of God. Chrysostom often preached about this. Likewise, the great reformer Martin Luther lived it. Then there are the Puritans, and preachers through the centuries who continued to affirm family worship is key to the health of the Church.

There are three elements in family worship: Reading; Praying; and Singing. Read the Bible methodically. Pray using a list. Sing with songbooks for everyone. Be brief. Be regular. Be flexible. After the simple instructions, Whitney goes on to tackle some issues that families may face:

  • What if the father is not a Christian?
  • What if the children are too young?
  • What if there are wide ranging age groups in the family?
  • What if there are no children? 

With clarity, Whitney has given us a guide that does not bog the busy parent down with details. Instead, it is an easy book to pick up and go do it.

It has been said that a family that prays together grows closer together. A family that worships God together is one of the most profound spiritual relationships to be formed. The trouble with many families is that they already had trouble finding time to talk, to play, and even to eat together. Busy people with busy lives obviously have no time for other people. Sadly, this extends to many modern families as well. This book contains a few gems but the main shortcoming is that it looks half-cooked and hastily assembled. The book offers promise and would be suitable for those who needed a starting torque to get family worship going.

Rating: 3.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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