3 Tips for Introducing Spiritual Disciplines to our Family

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​​Our firstborn was six months old when the 2020 pandemic started. The world slowed down and we, like most everyone else, just stayed at home. It was during that time that my husband and I both read Family Worship by Donald Whitney. We had been toying with the idea of starting a family worship routine, but Whitney’s book sealed the deal.

Around the same time, I happened across a social media promotion for a new product called Advent Blocks, an interactive, story-based resource for families to practice during (you guessed it), Advent. Given our daughter’s age and that Christmas was coming up, I purchased the set and thus began our ventures into implementing a family worship time and teaching our kids spiritual disciplines. So far, we’ve been more focused on the latter, but it’s setting up a solid foundation for a more formal family worship time in the future.

We’re closing in on four years of developing and honing our practices, mostly by trial and many errors. If you’ve been thinking about implementing similar habits in your family, here are three considerations that may help you get started.

Family worship has not always been sunshine and butterflies for us.

1. Start slow, then build.

According to Whitney, “there are three elements to family worship: read the Bible, pray, and sing.” In our family, we technically do all three things, but we didn’t start them all at the same time and we’ve practiced them to varying levels of consistency. If starting a habit of family worship with your kids seems daunting, choose one practice to start with and build on the rest later. James Clear calls this “habit stacking.”

We began singing the Doxology to our kids as part of their bedtime routine when they were newborns, but our family worship time truly began when we started using Advent Blocks during that Christmas of 2020. From there, we began regularly, though not always consistently, reading the Jesus Storybook Bible with our daughter, and continued with both kids after our son was born. However, as we, ourselves, began to be formed by the practice, we became more committed to daily reading Bible stories with our kids.

From there, we began adding prayer and worship to our regimen. This has been a relatively recent development, so we’re still figuring out how it all fits together. But let this be an encouragement to build a solid foundation with one or two practices and figure things out as you go.

2. It’s never too early to start.

In Family Worship, Whitney writes, “The worthiness of God to receive your family’s worship each day is reason enough to start practicing family worship today.” Note that family worship is not a replacement for involvement in the local church, but it’s also not enough to attend church with your family once or twice a week without reinforcing those practices at home. Church membership and family worship go hand-in-hand. So, whether your kids are babies or teenagers, it’s never too early to start.

There are challenges in every season with kids, but as Justin Whitmel Earley says in his book, Habits of the Household, “the most significant thing about any household is what is considered normal. Why is this so important? Because the normal is what shapes us the most, though we notice it the least.”

Normalcy occurs in the rhythms of daily life, whether we’re conscious of it or not. The good news is that we have some measure of control over what’s considered “normal” in our family rhythms and we can change it when necessary. That means that, regardless of the level of pushback from your kids or the awkwardness of starting family worship, consistency will eventually turn it into a normal part of your daily life.

Family worship has not always been sunshine and butterflies for us. Our kids were so young when we started, that between the squirming, running away, wailing, and interrupting, reading our Bible story sometimes felt like the worst part of the day! Now, though, it’s a really sweet time of reading the story and talking about it with them. We’ve read through the same book so many times that they recognize and get excited about their favorite stories. Seasons of family worship will ebb and flow with challenges and joys, but again, consistency is key—not ease.

3. Consider starting this summer.

Looking back on when we first started implementing spiritual disciplines and family worship, I’m thankful for the timing. While there were many difficult things about the pandemic, the slower pace of that year created space for us to start teaching our kids spiritual disciplines almost from birth. When life got busier, we had already established a strong routine of reading Bible stories with our kids, one that has withstood every activity, party, dinner, vacation, etc, that we’ve added to the calendar.

As summer break commences, it’s a great time to start teaching your kids spiritual disciplines or create a family worship routine. Families may be more open to a new routine simply because of the shift in seasons. Not only that, but summer lends itself to a slower pace, with many sports, church activities, school, and other extracurricular activities pressing pause until the fall. Kids often stay up later and schedules are generally more flexible.

You might even start by reading Family Worship. It’s a short, but convicting read, that can help you consider the impetus for starting a family worship time.

Seasons of family worship will ebb and flow with challenges and joys, but again, consistency is key—not ease.

Final Thoughts

I mentioned above that my husband and I began to be formed by the practice of daily reading Bible stories with our kids. It’s been a different kind of formation than what we find in our individual time with the Lord. As we’ve become more consistent in our practices and the longer we do it, the more we see how it’s impacting our kids and the more convicted we are about continuing.

Reading “the story” (as we call it) has become a normal and expected part of our kids’ day. They’ve started asking us to sing hymns with them almost every night, and though many of the lyrics are above their heads, the words have sparked questions and conversations about God, Jesus, sin, heaven, and more—conversations we otherwise wouldn’t have with them, at least while they’re so young. Our daughter’s prayers are starting to shift from the same recited prayer she’s always prayed, to include more specific requests like what she hears in our prayers.

Lord willing, we have five full years with our kids at home before they begin school (more, of course, if you homeschool). We have eighteen summers before our kids are sent out into the world. Ultimately, the Lord is sovereign over our kids’ salvation, but we know that we are primarily responsible for their discipleship—for building a home that mirrors the Lord’s commands in Deuteronomy 6 to repeat His words to our children. May God use our family worship to draw us and our kids close to Him, as individuals and as families. May our kids become “like arrows in the hand of a warrior” (Psalm 127:4), that we may send them out to tell the world about Jesus.

Editor's Note

This is part one in a new series on spiritual disciplines and parenting. Look for more articles in this series in coming months.

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The Master of Arts Ethics, Theology, and Culture is a Seminary program providing specialized academic training that prepares men and women to impact the culture for Christ through prophetic moral witness, training in cultural engagement, and service in a variety of settings.

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Meredith Cook

Grant Coordinator

Meredith Cook serve as the Grant Coordinator for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where she earned a Master of Divinity in Missiology. She's also the author of 'Go Tell Everyone: 9 Missionaries Who Shared the Good News' (B&H Kids, March 2024). You can find her online at

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