News, updates and thoughts about standing for the Gospel.

Family worship, where the reformation must begin – an interview with William (STAND 2014)

On Saturday morning and afternoon, STAND 2014 attendees will get the chance to participate in 7 different seminar sessions. We previously had Alan, Lisa, Calvyn, Owen and Nick share a bit about what they’ll be talking about in their seminars.

For one of the seminar sessions, William Chong will host a panel discussion on family worship and what it looks like in different homes. The following couples will take part in the panel:

  • Cyrus and Ruth Richardson (who have 3 children attending state school)
  • Joe and Mandy Fleener (who have 3 home-schooled children)
  • Richard and Donelda Cutforth (who have 4 adult children)
  • Philip and Nahomi Dhinakar (who have 3 adult children)

William serves at Howick Baptist Church by planning and leading worship services (a topic he talked more on in two previous seminars), and he is an architect of many a failed time of family devotions! He answers a few questions about this year’s panel discussion and what it’ll look like.

1. What is family worship?

Firstly, it’s having mindset that training our children up to know and love Jesus is an all-of-life responsibility. Within the bigger category of training our children in the gospel and godliness is a specific time of coming together – different families call it different things: family worship, family devotions, training, spiritual exercise, and so on. I think what you call it isn’t as important as what you do.

2. Why is this an important idea for Christians?

In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, God gives us this unequivocal command to a chosen people He’s rescued from slavery:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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.”

We see here a command to intentionally to passing on our faith to our children in these words, and we recognise that in God’s grace He can use something like family worship to help our children come to repentance and faith in Jesus. So in the same way we come together for a time of corporate worship in the church, families should come together for structured and spontaneous times of praying to God, hearing from His Word and singing His truths — with hope that over time, God would use it to awaken the gospel in the next generation.

3. How did the idea for this panel discussion come about?

Family worship doesn’t save; only Jesus can do that. But from reading about and observing the life of others, I’m convinced that the practice of coming together as a family to worship God in the home is sorely needed in our homes today. Because the Bible doesn’t give a specific to-do list about family worship, I’ve found it a struggle to work out what it should look like in our home as my wife and two girls grow up.

Last year Cheryl and I interviewed several families that we respect and look up to. We heard about what they do, what they don’t, the biblical convictions behind their decisions, and so on. It gave us wonderful ideas, tips and resources to implement a lifestyle of training and shepherding our children so that their hearts might be prepared to love Christ. For this year’s STAND conference, I was invited to do something similar in person so others could also benefit from some of the wisdom I’ve been fortunate to glean from these older men and women.

4. How has thinking about this topic affected your own life?

It’s nice to have the theory and know why family worship is needed. But hearing the stories of other parents, has encouraged me immensely and shown me that it is possible! These are normal parents like me – with many failings – but they patiently train and encourage  their children the same truths of God, tailored for their own kids. If they can do it, I can too!

5. Any recommended books, articles and resources?

Here are a some resources that talk about the idea in general:

  • Jason Helopoulos gives a good run-down of this practice here and here, and has a book called “A Neglected Grace“.
  • Don Whitney’s book on it is super short and very practical (reviewed here, and a video here)
  • Joel Beeke’s A Puritan Theology has a good chapter on family worship: in it he quotes Matthew Henry as saying: “… I know not anything that will contribute more to the furtherance of this good work than the bringing of family religion more into practice and reputation. Here the reformation must begin.


But the families I’ve previously interviewed have suggested plenty more! You can find them here:


“Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.”
– Jonathan Edwards

6. What are you looking forward to at this year’s conference?

It’s going to be the biggest conference that we’ve ever hosted. I’m looking forward to hearing the Bible explained and applied. Jeremiah is a book in the Bible I’ve not studied or read much of, so I’m looking forward to hearing what God has to say to us through the weeping prophet.

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