How to do Family Church at Home

Doing family church at home is easy and simple. There’s very little planning or expertise required, just willing participants. The upside, particularly for children, is they get to see that church is a priority, they see their faith practiced outside the church, and they see a strong example of real-world faith from their parents and their elders. The good news is it’s easy to do family church at home! Keep it short (Yay!). A 20-minute service, all in, will do tremendously more for your family than not having one at all!

In the time of Coronavirus, we’re not sure when we’ll be able to get back to gathering in large numbers. We don’t know how long this will last. In the meantime, traditional church families are most likely not practicing any kind of Sunday morning routine, such as a church service. That’s bad, especially for the children who need to see an example set by the adults of the priority that church and the faith should have.

Here’s how to do family church at home!

Call everybody together at a set time

Call everyone to a space where you can all sit together, like a living room, and where you can all see the leader who will move the service through its steps.

It doesn’t matter if all of this is off-the-cuff. Just do it! The value is in the doing, not in how great you are at doing it.

Follow your church’s pattern

If your church is like mine, you might follow something like this,

  1. Open with prayer
  2. Sing a few songs
  3. Read a small portion of scripture
  4. Have a prayer time
  5. Have a sermon time
  6. Sing a closing song
  7. Close with prayer

Congrats! You have your family church plan! And isn’t that nifty, it’s a perfect 7-point plan!

It’s totally fine to copy your church’s service. Your church is a ‘little church’ just like each of you is a ‘little Christ’ (as a child who imitates a grown up).

Open with a prayer

Prepare the hearts of those around you to help remind them we are meeting and remembering Christ and that we are trying to do something fun but still serious.

You could also open with a song but be sure to follow quickly with a prayer to prepare your family for a time of church.

Sing a few songs (How?)

Use YouTube, Apple Music, Spotify, or your personal music collection of Christian songs, whether online, or digital, or CDs, or straight from hymn or chorus books!

If someone can play a piano, keyboard, guitar, or other instrument, all the better! Have them lead the songs!

Include musical instruments for adults and children

Involve children by giving them something to bang! It could be a kitchen pot and wooden spoon. Lead them with a pot and spoon yourself and show them how to keep with the beat of the song.

Providing children something to “give” to the service teaches them they, too, can serve and it’s not so scary. It’s also fun for them and broadens their horizons about what church can be!

You should probably take away the instruments when songs are done to avoid children making a racket when attention is needed!

Read a small portion of scripture

Psalms and Proverbs have so many great bite-size pieces of scripture that make them perfect for this time in the service.

You could also ask family members if they have a favourite portion of scripture they’d like read. You can ask them to read it, if they would like, or you can read. If they read, it will help them develop confidence in their public speaking ability.

Having trouble deciding? You can’t go wrong starting at Psalms 1. Just read the whole chapter. That’s it!

Read a brief story with a moral

We are magnetized by new and interesting stories. That’s why your pastor probably peppers his sermons with them. It’ll work the same with your family church.

You can easily find short stories from the bible, think David and Goliath, or the Old Testament Kings who prayed to God when they had no other help. You can also find well-written stories in publications like Our Daily Bread.

Ask members to pray in prayer time

Because it’s a small group, adults and children will feel much more comfortable a note of thanks, or a prayer request, or even praying out loud.

Encourage members to say a little prayer.

The benefit of including everyone will be to give them confidence that they can speak in front of people!

Have a sermon time

An adult, the father preferably or another respected man, but a mother or respecting woman if men are not available, should lead the sermon time.

Here, you can also pick a portion of scripture. Consider New Testament passages, perhaps a story of Jesus’ miracles, or an edifying section from Paul.

You can go anywhere in the bible. Reading a chapter (or two) is all you need to do and then you can pray and that’s it. If you feel a bit more confident and you feel a bit more creative, you might find yourself inserting your thoughts between verses, or asking your family members (especially kids) about what a certain verse means.

Involve them! They’ll be much more attentive if you do!

Sing a closing song

Just your regular church, most likely, you probably end on a song. You can’t go wrong with that. Mankind was designed to respond to music and the bible reminds us God wants to hear ‘a new song’. God is creative and He made us to be creative, too!

Close with a prayer

Closing with a prayer helps bring closure to the service and cement the idea that something proper and concrete was started and was ended, rather than just being a haphazard ‘come if you like’ kind of deal.

That’s it!

You’re probably able and creative enough to just follow your own church’s pattern without needing all this advice.

So, go to it, enjoy, and know that you are setting an example for your family and children that church and faith are a priority even in the real-world and on days not named Sunday!

Personal Background

These ideas came from the example set by my mother and father who would gather us all to the living room on snow days or days when we kids acted up and prevented the family from getting to church.

The lasting impact of the example they set by living their faith in the real-world shows in my life in many ways but also in the simple fact that I published a blog like this.

Thank you, Lord, for parents who set good examples!

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

Misericordia, Soli Deo Gloria

How to find Church Guitar Chords Online

 

How to find Church Guitar Chords Online

For the past half year I’ve been part of a small church where most of our music comes from the hymnal. They’re very, very nice people, though, and are happy to have myself and a friend playing guitar in the front pews. We really enjoy it but it takes some effort to work with the piano players and their music so that we can find guitar chords to play from. This took me down the path of finding guitar chords for hymns and worship songs online. Here’s my tips for finding them…

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After Atheism: New Perspectives on God and Religion

When I work from home I often listen to podcasts and I’ve been listening to CBC Radio Ideas’ After Atheism this week. This is what I’d call a post-post-modern look at religion and materialism over the past few thousand years. This is a compliment as they recognize things like the resurgence of spiritual interest, the myth of religious violence, the actual (not supposed) factors at play in the separation of church and state. They even recognize Christianity specifically has been behind many social change movements and demonstrably not just an ‘internal, private spirituality’ thing.

The episodes are long and in-depth but, for the first time in a long time, CBC is giving as fair a shake as can be expected to faith in general and, in places, to Christianity in particular.

It’s by no means pro-Christian but it’s decent place for open discussion.

Nitty Gritty: From Mayhem to Ministry. A Testimony.

I play guitar with my church and, each week, I need to go online to find song chords. While searching this week, I came across this website, Musings of  a Minister’s Wife, after some Google results turned up guitar chords for her ebook of chord sheets. My curiosity was piqued by the domain name “musingsofaministerswife.com.” I thought to myself, ‘what would a minister’s wife blog about?’. Somehow I got over to the About page and that’s where things got really interesting when it started with this: In 2003, my husband and I quit relying on each other to keep our marriage together and started relying on God.  Wow!  What a change!  We are now bearing bigger fruit in a ministry of our own. I kept reading and was very pleasantly surprised by a couple who went through some amazing ordeals and came out on the other side loving God more. Here’s a taste of their story,

I first met Jimmy at work. He was a few months away from being married. I was in my third year of (a bad) marriage. I didn’t like Jimmy. He was cocky, so very sure of himself, so “I’m better than everyone else” of himself. Instant turnoff. Besides, I was married. We didn’t talk much. He stayed in his cubicle, and I stayed in mine.

As time wore on, my job blended with Jimmy’s, and we began to see each other on a daily basis. We worked together in the tech department along with 2 other people. We all went out to lunch several times a month as a group. One day, the other 2 weren’t available. But I was hungry. And I was lonely. And he was nice to me. And funny. He opened doors. He laughed at my jokes. He was getting cuter by the day. He treated me like a gentleman treats a lady, which was far from the treatment I was getting at home. Which Jimmy knew. He was all too familiar with decoding finger-print sized bruises on women’s arms. He was all too familiar with being lonely himself.

We had a nice lunch. It was our first time alone. Nothing happened. It was just a friendly lunch.

But there is such wisdom in not allowing yourself to be alone with a man.

Especially if you’re in a rocky marriage. Especially if he’s in a rocky marriage with a baby on the way.

Remember that part about Jimmy being far, far away from God? He wasn’t the only one.

You can read the whole story over at From Mayhem to Ministry.

We have to go back

I just got done watching the entire series of Lost on Netflix for the second time. What a trip. What story telling. This time around things came a little bit easier. I more often had “aha!” moments and more than a few head-nods to the writer’s foreshadowing. For having gone as long as it did, for having kept almost all of its cast members the entire time, for having a grand story arch they stuck to and finished, and for the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, I can’t think of a better television series. Believe me, I’m a Browncoat, so you can take that to the bank. ;) So, if we have to go back, here are my main take-aways from the show’s six-year run…*spoiler warning*

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You are loved

This phrase has stuck with me since I first heard a story, via James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word, about a man who doubted its sincerity and then found out just what it meant in action.

Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, close each service, from what I understand, with the words “you are loved.” This simple phrase reflects profoundly the heart of God’s relationship with us and sums up the ministry of the Church. It succinctly focuses in on the basic human need to be loved. If we are to reach the world then we are to love them – really love them. As God loves us, we are to love.

I was pleasantly surprised to find Heather Williams’ You Are Loved from her album on iTunes just after her hit single Hallelujah. This is as close to the perfect musical complement to the sentiment we’re likely to get.

Put me in, coach

Richard Wurmbrand and wife Sabina are an inspiring pair who left their mark on Christian history and founded The Voice of the Martyrs, “a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization dedicated to assisting the persecuted church worldwide.”

Richard Wurmbrand was born the youngest of four boys in a Jewish family on March 24, 1909, in Bucharest, Romania. Gifted intellectually and fluent in nine languages, Richard was active in leftist politics and worked as a stockbroker.

After their marriage, Richard and Sabina were converted to Christ in 1938, chiefly because of the influence of a German carpenter, Christian Wölfkes. They joined the Anglican Mission to the Jews in Bucharest. Richard was ordained, first as an Anglican, and then after World War II as a Lutheran minister.

During World War II, Richard and Sabina saw an opportunity for evangelism among the occupying German forces. They preached in the bomb shelters and rescued Jewish children out of the ghettos. Richard and Sabina were repeatedly arrested and beaten and, at least once, nearly executed. Sabina lost her Jewish family in Nazi concentration camps.

In 1945 Romanian Communists seized power and a million “invited” Russian troops poured into the country. Pastor Wurmbrand ministered to his oppressed countrymen and engaged in bold evangelism to the Russian soldiers.

That same year, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand attended the Congress of Cults organized by the Romanian Communist government. Many religious leaders came forward to praise Communism and to swear loyalty to the new regime. Sabina said, “Richard, stand up and wash away this shame from the face of Christ.” Richard warned, “If I do so, you’ll lose your husband.”

“I don’t wish to have a coward as a husband,” she replied. Thus Richard declared to the 4,000 delegates, whose speeches were broadcast to the whole nation, that their duty is to glorify God and Christ alone.

Between 1945 and 1947, Richard distributed 1 million Gospels to Russian troops, often disguising the books as Communist propaganda. Richard also smuggled Gospels into Russia. On December 30, 1947, the People’s Republic of Romania was proclaimed. Persecution.com – About our Founders

There are few things more powerful than a Godly woman who understands her man, and gives him the license to act like one.

New Year’s Day 2012

Happy New Year! May your heart warm again to hope by the very sunshine shone forth only from the trust put in Jesus Christ, Saviour of your soul, God, Who knows the good plans He has for you!

Allow me to open 2012 with an old stand by, for the “old school Sanctus Real fans…”

Things were better last year. Things will be better this year.

Thank you, God, for blessing me, thank you for helping me be a blessing, thank you for changing me. You have shown your faithfulness in spite of my unfaithfulness. You have answered my prayers, you have carried me through, you have lead me and guided me according to your Will for me, revealing to me day by day your plans to bless me so incredibly. I am amazed that you care for the things that I care about. Forgive me for having such little faith. I believe, help my unbelief! Thank you for the sacrifice of Your Son on the cross for me, a sinner. May I ever more and ever better be Your servant.

Lord, you know my heart’s desire. Please bless me with opportunities to be a blessing, please bless me with courage and confidence to seize those opportunities, please bless me with Your creativity to create opportunities! I believe your best for me is yet in my future. This I know because I have seen Your great hand at work! I will wait on You, I will trust in You.

The Lord, God, He is Good. Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Selah.

Charity 360 #Charity365

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t officially donate to charities. I often do one-time, anonymous donations. My primary donations are my offerings to my church. I, also, regularly put spare change in the Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation boxes, and I’ll always do the annual Remembrance Day poppy thing, but I don’t really officially donate outside of the church and outside of those small things. It’s something I’ve wanted to change and now I think I have I know how.

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t officially donate to charities. I often do one-time, anonymous donations. My primary donations are my offerings to my church. I, also, regularly put spare change in the Tim Horton’s Children’s Foundation boxes, and I’ll always do the annual Remembrance Day poppy thing, but I don’t really officially donate outside of the church and outside of those small things. It’s something I’ve wanted to change and now I think I know how.

My own problem with donating has been (1) which charities should I support that I’ll feel personally satisfied donating to, and (2) how do I donate in a satisfying and sustainable way.

The first issue, of which charities to support, has been answered this year by my own choices in what I’ve been reading and listening to. I’ve gotten seriously into creation and so have been reading things from Creation Ministries International. I’ve always been interested in very cerebral topics and so I’ve been listening quite a bit to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Intelligent, listenable, bible-believing preachers are hard to come by and so I’ve been listening a lot to James MacDonald’s Walk in the Word. It became clear to me what I should be supporting.

The second issue, how to donate in a satisfying and sustainable way, has always bugged me. I always felt that if I won a million dollars I’d donate a large amount of it and it would have a significant impact – something I couldn’t achieve on an average salary. I’m not going to sit around waiting to win the lottery, though, so all that did was eat away at me. This year, once I realized I had three organizations I actually wanted to support, I began to understand that, since I can’t make a huge impact, I will, instead, plan to donate in a sustainable way that most could also do and, if we all did that together, we’d make a bigger difference,  at scale, than if I donated a million dollars at once. I decided I would consider my donation as a relatively small, monthly amount, namely $10 per month per organization.

I picked the organizations that meant the most to me and I picked an amount that suited me and that would also add up over time and would mean much more if everybody did the same.

When all was said and done, I donated $360 to three organizations. Actually, I couldn’t easily donate to Ravi Zacharias International Ministries so I donated $120 to Blue Letter Bible, instead. I now have an annual Google Calendar reminder about these December donations and I hope I can keep it up.

The only thing I think I might do differently is to mix up my organizations. I really do believe in the value of organizations like the Salvation Army, youth shelters, international aid organizations, and others. What I am confident in, however, is that when everyone gives to the organizations that mean the most to them, just due to the number of people involved, we’ll be able to cover all of the organizations sufficiently.

I hope somebody finds this plan of value and I hope that ever more and more we’ll find more people donating sustainable amounts to the ever growing benefit of those around us who need our help.

#Charity365

A Religious Experience

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; \ Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing: \ For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe; \ His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, \ On earth is not his equal.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I have a serious faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross but they know also that I haven’t regularly gone to church in a number of years. I don’t have anything against church. I’m sure my absence is due to a few psychological issues and not finding a church that “clicked.” Well, this past Sunday I attended Bayfair in Pickering for the second time in as many weeks. The praise and worship was good. The pastor turned out to be quite biblically sound and much deeper than I thought he was before. But what happened in the closing hymn was something that I have rarely felt.

The (very) young worship team leader introduced the hymn as a very old one, 500 years old “but still good”. That hymn was A Mighty Fortress is our God (lyrics; youtube). Surprisingly, the young worship team sang through all of the verses and delivered excellently. The result was two hundred or so believers singing powerful doctrine together in unity. You could sense something special was occurring right then and there.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Selah.