Promoting Family Religion

The following is an edited excerpt from an article A Call to Family Worship written by Dr. Ligon Duncan and Dr. Terry Johnson and published in Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship, ed. Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W. H. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2003) 317-338. Dr. Duncan is Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church Jackson, Mississippi and Dr. Jonhson is Senior Pastor, Independent Presbyterian Church Savannah, Georgia. I was privileged to take some courses with Dr. Duncan at the Reformed Theological Seminary where he is an Adjunct Professor of Theology.


When all is said and done though, some of the profoundest things we can repeatedly do to promote a heart for God in our children are also the simplest things.

First, sit together at church. Go to church every week (even on vacation), fifty-two weeks a year, year after year, and sit together. That is it. I guarantee it will have a profoundly beneficial spiritual impact. The family ought to be in corporate worship faithfully and in it together. Children can get with their friends after the services, but in church, the family ought to be prime. Do not underestimate the power of the ordinary means of grace in the life of the family.

Second, work to have a Lord’s Day. Live as if Sunday is the Lords, not yours. View it as the “market day of the soul.” Don’t let the day become cluttered up. Avoid unnecessary labor and travel. Anticipate it with enthusiasm rather than bemoaning it. Make going to church the high point of the week. Let yourchildren know you love it. Do special things with them on that day that you do no other (e.g., Dad: cook them breakfast, wake them in a special way, spend relational time with them in the afternoon, read them spiritual books and stories, make ice cream sundaes for them after the evening service and the like).

Third, attend evening worship. If we believe the whole day is the Lords day, then it ought to be framed with worship. Morning and evening worship in the Reformed tradition is the single most powerful and effective total congregational discipleship program in the history of Christianity. I have never known a family that was faithful in Sunday evening attendance in an evangelical church, that, when the great crises of life came, did not weather the storm and walk in faith, and persevere.

Fourth, memorize the catechisms. It is a proven method. It is simple. It is content rich. It teaches our children the language of Zion, as well as the precious doctrines of the Bible. It increases memory ability and capacity for thinking.

Fifth, worship together as a family at home. Praise, pray, and read the Bible together as a family at home. Why should we do family worship? (1) Because we are stewards to God of our children, whom he has graciously given to us. Ps 127:3 tells us how we are to view them “Behold, children are a gift of the LORD.” How will we account to him of the soul-care that we are to give these precious trusts? (2) Because God has commanded us to train our children up in the Lord in the home. As we have already seen in Deut 6:7, God says, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (3) Because the home is the seedbed of piety and religion for the church (1 Tim 3:4–5, 12).


  1. These are indeed profound and simple principles that we can use to help nurture particularly our children. This is an area which is a major challenge to many of us and these notes will be helpful if applied to promote family worship.