When I first became a parent 18 years I had only been saved about 6 years. I did not grow up in a saved home although we did believe in Jesus. My parents got saved around the time I did but there wasn't much growth there with my mom being so sick with cancer. My father didn't really grow in the Lord until I was out of the house. Thankfully my step-mom used those few years of me living at home to model many wonderful behaviors. I knew she read her bible and studied. However I was still at a loss of how to teach my own children. I think it is sad that I'm not alone in this area. Many times the church fails us because they don't help us to teach our own kids. They tell us that church is not enough. So while we prayed, sang and read books - in our home practicing our religion I don't think I really started teaching theology until we started homeschooling and I made it a class for the kids.
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In Give Them Jesus: Raising Our Children On The Core Truths Of The Christian Faith- author Dillon T. Thornton explains the importance of family worship time. He takes us through basic theology in a way that is easy to understand. Each chapter ends in a family worship guide that includes a short summary of the material, recommended bible verses, songs and prayer prompts. These pages are valuable because it helps put together what to do during devotion time.
I had a chance to do a Q & A with Dr. Thornton:
1. What is the toughest challenge facing Christian teens today?
I think teens today face the same challenge Daniel faced centuries ago when he was snatched
away from his homeland and dropped in the middle of a foreign land full of false gods. The
challenge, simply stated, is this: How do I live faithfully among the faithless? Typically,
Christians (of all ages) think there are only two ways to live. Some assimilate, that is, they
become like the faithless culture around them, completely forgetting about their identity as the
people of God. Others separate, that is, they withdraw from the culture and become overly
“churchy”; they watch only Christian films, have only Christian friends, wear only Christian t-
shirts—you know the type. Daniel shows us a third way, and it’s the way all contemporary
Christians, but especially Christian teens, need to discover. Daniel engaged the culture as an
exile. He shows us how to live for God in the city of Babylon. Our calling is not to love God and
hate Babylon. Nor is it to love Babylon and forget all about God. Our calling is to love both. In
New Testament language, we must “keep ourselves unstained from the world” (James 1:27),
while remembering that we are “sent into the world” (John 17:18) to share the love and message
2. Finding the time for family-worship at home is difficult with busy schedules. We go to church
and participate there, how much time should we be doing at home as well?
In Give Them Jesus I talk about the importance of brevity and consistency. Family worship isn’t
a full-on church service. There’s no need for a detailed order of worship, no reason for parents to
wear robes (unless you’re pretending to be a Jedi), and no obligation to prepare a thirty-minute
expository sermon on Leviticus. When your children are young, ten to fifteen minutes will
suffice for all the elements that compose the family worship time. With the brevity piece in
mind, then you just need to determine how many days of the week your family will gather for
worship. Pick days and times that work well for everyone, and then be consistent. Make family
worship a priority. This is a challenge, because every family I know is omni-occupied, crazy
busy. Saying “yes” to family worship will mean saying “no” to something else. Concentration is
elimination. So if I am going to concentrate on family worship, if I’m going to prioritize this in
my home, then I will need to eliminate something else. Maybe it means that my boys play two
sports instead of three. Maybe it means that we place some strict limits on our screen time at
night. Or maybe it means that we get up 30 minutes earlier during the week and meet at the
breakfast table before the day carries us our separate ways.
3. Any thoughts on social media for teens?
Funny you should ask. I’m developing these thoughts as part of the research for my next book.
The tentative title is The Fit Family: Habits for Building Holistic Fitness. I plan to have chapters
on spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, and relational/technological fitness. So stay tuned…
4. Do you have any tips for Family-Worship with multiple age levels (babies, children and
As I mentioned earlier, with younger children brevity is key. When you have older children or
teens, I recommend giving them leadership roles: ask them to help the younger children find the
passage of Scripture, have them read the Scripture, or give them the responsibility of keeping the
family prayer journal.
This book is a wealth of knowledge for incorporating family worship time into busy lives. I want to thank Dr. Thornton for answering my questions.
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