Enhanced – read by the author
Faith Filled Family typography

with Steve Demme

“Thankfully, God is not calling us to deliver scintillating sermons. He is calling us to faithfully lead our families. We are to be faithful facilitators, not successful sermonizers.”
The Elephant in the Room

have conducted many workshops encouraging men and training them how to lead regular times of family worship. There is always an elephant in the room. It is the fear of failure. According to pollsters, people would rather die than speak in public. Public speaking and the fear of failure are usually listed as numbers one and two. Dying is listed as number four or five on the same list. I think the reason fear of failure is listed right after speaking in public is that we have the potential to fail in front of people as we speak.

Thankfully, God is not calling us to deliver scintillating sermons. He is calling us to faithfully lead our families. We are to be faithful facilitators, not successful sermonizers.

In our home, I saw my responsibilities as twofold: gather the troops and then turn the meeting over to Jesus. One of my favorite promises is, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) When we are assembled as a family and ask Him to join us, He will show up.

As soon as we were all seated, we prayed and I asked Jesus to teach us from His Word. Then we would read a chapter of Scripture. When the kiddos were young they sat on our laps and we read to them, when they were older we read with them. Our pattern was to go around the room and have each person read three verses.

If we had time, we would then go around the circle again as we each shared what insight we had received that day. If we had more time, we sang a hymn. Then I closed in prayer. I kept track and found this approach took a minimum of eight and maximum of around twenty minutes.

After practicing this format for over a decade, I can assure you that Jesus faithfully met us by His Spirit. Even though I have read the Bible many times, I regularly received new insights when meeting as a family. Jesus is a great teacher. He knows how to quicken just the right passages to each person in the family. He knows everybody in the class and has invested His life to see we spend eternity with Him. In a nutshell, gather the family together, ask God to join you, and sit back and watch Him do wonderful things in
your home.

Our children are all adults now, but over a period of many years we were able to read aloud all of the Bible except for a few of the minor prophets. It is one of my sweetest memories of homeschooling our children. We tweaked our approach over the years. When we first began reading aloud I found large print Bibles in the same translation so we could read together and help each other with punctuation and large words. When they got older we welcomed several versions of the Scripture. We also experienced a season where we memorized a verse of a hymn at a time until we could sing about nine hymns from memory. We frequently made long trips, and it was a delight to be able to sing these songs of worship as a family.

man thinking, with hand on his chin
A Spring of Life
When the idea of conducting family devotions first entered my thinking, my first response was that I did not have the time or the energy to add one more thing to my already full plate. I envisioned having to prepare interesting activities, perhaps consult a commentary, or at least read through the chapter ahead of time. I also dreaded the amount of energy this would require.

However, as I have described, I did not do any preparation. I had my own devotions with God, but I simply whistled to gather the troops, asked God to teach, sat back, and learned along with my kids. In hindsight, I recognize we are all being discipled by God and learning together. Surprising to me was how I was not drained by leading the meeting but refreshed by being with Jesus.

When we encountered passages that were difficult to understand, I acknowledged that I didn’t know. I have always felt that it is not my responsibility to understand every jot and tittle but to focus on what I did understand, and God would reveal mysteries in the proper time.

The Word of God was written to be read by each of God’s children. These verses from Deuteronomy 30:11,14 encourage me. “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you, and it is not beyond your reach. …No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.”

There is much more that I could say on this important subject. If you are interested, I have a book called Family Worship which you can buy or download for free as a PDF. It is also available as an audiobook. Of the 140 pages, the last thirty are short glimpses into the homes of other families. Each family has the joy of finding their own unique approach that works for their home. These testimonials are a wonderful source of ideas that will inspire your thinking and approach.

If you would like to sing hymns as a part of your family worship, Hymns for Family Worship is available as a hard copy or a PDF.

May God richly bless your family,
Steve Demme

teve Demme and his wife Sandra have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and six special grandchildren. Their fourth son has Downs Syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA. Steve has served in full or part-time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.