Will instruction about who God is, and what He has done be part of your homeschooling experience this coming year? Hopefully yes! Here are some ideas about a way you can “bring the Sunday morning sermon home.”
|This is a guest post by Jeff Hoots. He blogs about his adventures, misadventures, and lessons learned as a husband, homeschooling dad, and CPA. You can follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffhoots, and read about more of his adventures on his blog, JeffHoots.net. If you want to guest post on my blog, check out the guidelines here.|
Our family has struggled (really, I, as leader of my family), in the application of Deuteronomy 6:7 – “You shall teach them diligently to your children…”
Why do I fall short in this area? Maybe because I’ve been working harder, not smarter, to be the all–star spiritual dad who hits home run perfect family devotions every night. Instead, I’ve been worse than striking out – I haven’t even come up to bat. To get back where we need to be, we are keeping it simple, using our church’s weekend sermon as our topic. Here are my suggestions:
1. Worship Together as a Family
This cannot be taken for granted. Many churches today actually segregate the family, starting with the nursery and going through high school. Everybody’s got their own room, just like a brick and mortar school. We’ve been taught to outsource our kids and their spiritual development, and we grownups get to go to “big church.”
In defense of youth groups, though, I firmly believe that instruction tailored to one’s level of understanding is valuable. To solve this paradox, our family takes a “both / and” approach. In other words, we don’t choose between Sunday School and “big church,” we do both! Our family is blessed to have three generations worshiping together every week. As a supplement, we also take advantage of opportunities to go to our Sunday Schools and Youth Groups.
Our church has the wisdom to act on this issue as well. As spoken from the pulpit and confirmed in practice, we are encouraged to worship together as a family. Our High School Group meets Sunday evening so that the youth can be with their families in the morning. Not only that, but they are encouraged to serve, such as teaching younger grades. Does your church’s family values match up to yours?
2. Listen and Apply the Sermon…to Yourself!
Once in the service, listen actively, applying the Bible passage and the sermon to yourself first. Ask yourself, “what’s a main idea of the Scripture reading and the related message being preached? What actionable idea or ideas would I do well to implement?”
This summer our church has a summer series on selected Psalms. A recent Sunday was Psalm 79, a lament by Asaph. The setting may be the destruction of Israel by the Babylonians in 586 BC. What’s a main idea? How God’s people ought to respond when God ordains discipline on His people, no matter how harsh. Asaph repents humbly and appeals to God’s character and mercy, finishing with hope-filled praise. I would do well to remember that when I’m going through hard times, either as a result of my sin or as part of a fallen world, that God uses these circumstances for my good and His glory.
3. Lead a Family Discussion
Once you have exposed your family to the Word in step 1 and exposed yourself to the Word in step 2, lead a discussion, perhaps during lunch. Think about and ask open-ended questions, maybe even take notes.
When we discussed Psalm 79 as a family, I asked about the discipline of God. The discussion included an observation from our Darling Daughter, mentioning “punishment of having to do spelling during the summer.” Her willingness to speak up was great! That gave us an opportunity to talk about different types of discipline. There is a discipline directly related to disobedience. If we as a family had intentionally disregarded spelling as part of our curriculum, then our punishment would be that we have to do it during the summer. On the other hand, if we desire to prepare ourselves to someday make a difference in our homes, marketplaces, and churches, we discipline ourselves in skills necessary to that end, including knowing how to spell in this crazy language we call English.
A Change for the Better
Our family still has a way to go. In other words, I still have a long way to go. In the past, I’ve cultivated a family culture of consuming the Sunday morning experience, then hustling home so that we can move on to continuing our fun-filled weekend. That has to change, especially the attitude of thinking that church time is an interruption of our day. Perhaps the beginning of a new homeschool year is as good of a time as any. Is conversation about a shared experience, such as church, a good place to start?
Question: Do you feel a need to guide your family spiritually? Not sure where or when to start? How about Sunday morning? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Such EXCELLENT points. Our congregation doesn’t have a “nursery” as you would think. There is a cry room, that you can take your child to nurse or calm down, but you are expected to bring your child right back into the auditorium (or I guess “adult church”). Children and babies are expected to sit mostly still and quiet through the sermon. I can say from personal experience that this is NOT too much to ask (I have a 3 yr old, a 2 yr old, and a 7 month old).
We also don’t have “sunday school” in the normal sense of the word. There are bible classes for all ages (2 years to adults), and then there is the worship service where we partake in the Lord’s Supper and listen to a sermon. So, while you get the aspect of bible classes and teaching geared towards specific age groups, you also get the “worshiping as a family” sense.
VERY good post, thank you so much for your time and consideration while putting this together.
You are welcome! You are right that sitting still and quiet through the sermon is not too much to ask – children are able, just not trained. How the training will take place in each family depends on context – the age and strengths of the child, the parents, and their local church.
It appears as if your congregation has a good handle on the importance of worship as a family act. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond.