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Keeping Family Worship Simple

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
Family devotions don’t have to be long and complex to be meaningful.

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Do the words “family altar” intimidate you? Are you hesitant to begin having regular devotions with your family, because the prospect seems too difficult and time-consuming? In the 1st of 20 articles on family devotions, Dr. Don Dunlap explains that we are more likely to stick with a plan that is not long and complicated. He discusses how we can begin to develop a family devotional plan that is perfectly suited for our unique family unit.

After the breakfast dishes are cleared away, Jim and Susan call enthusiastically to their children, “Time for family worship!” One by one, Josh, 14, Amanda 8 and Kevin, 3, file into the living room and plop down on the sofa. With eyes half closed they rally themselves when Jim admonishes them to “look alert.” “When will this be over?” Josh asks his dad. “I’ve still got some homework to finish up.” “Do we have to do this every morning?” Amanda whines. “My friend Caitlin’s mom only makes them have family devotions twice a week.” “I’m sleepy!” announces Kevin as he curls up and lies down on the carpet.” Thus begins another exciting episode of “Can we survive family worship today?”

Many parents want to know the best time to have family devotions and what materials and resources are best.

Many couples that come for counseling ask me about family worship. Most Christian men feel overwhelmed by the challenge and unequipped for the task of leading their wives and children in family devotions. Many Christian women, who for various reasons are charged with the leadership of family worship, feel the same way.


They want to know when to do family worship, how to do it, and what materials and resources to use. They want to know, above all, how to make their family devotion times interesting and meaningful.


If our plan gets too complicated we probably won’t stay with it for very long.

If you are a single parent, the material presented in this series of articles should be applicable to your situation as well. The important thing to remember is that family worship need not be long or complicated. It should, however, be as consistent as possible. We are usually more prone to stick with a plan that is simple and workable.

We maintain the same basic plan, but we constantly modify it as we see what works best from season to season.

Over the past twenty years of our parenting experience, my wife and I have tried numerous approaches to conducting family worship. Over time we have developed a family worship plan that we can comfortably implement. We have ten children, seven of whom are under the age of thirteen. We have, of course, continually modified our approach and our teaching methodology, according to the changing configuration of our growing “tribe.”


In this series on family devotions, we offer you the product of our ongoing efforts to daily weave the Lord Jesus Christ into our children’s lives in a manner that is appealing, winsome and uncompromising.


You may wish to use a few of our suggestions after considering them prayerfully. However, we do not recommend trying to duplicate the family worship time of any particular family. There is no “one right way” or right time to conduct family devotions. God has created each family uniquely different and each family must discover the plan that works best for them.

Dr. Don Dunlap, a pioneer in the placement of Pastoral Counselors in the offices of Christian physicians, has conducted over twenty thousand appointments during his ministerial career. His counseling practice includes adults, children and families in crisis. Dr. Dunlap is committed to facilitating a network of telephone counselors. His goal is to provide help for the many people unable to meet face to face with a competent Bible-based counselor. For a complete library of Dr. Dunlap’s articles, indexed by topic, go to Family Counseling Ministries. You may also make an appointment for personal telephone counseling by clicking on Family Counseling Ministries. Family Counseling Ministries is a ministry Partner.

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