Family Worship for the Stability of Minority Christian Families

Jarvis Williams

There is no shortage of materials written about the disintegration of the black family. Many have noted black families often have one parent households or have children that were born out of wedlock. The familial brokenness in some black communities has caused different cultural commentators to offer reasons as to why certain black communities are rife with broken families and whether this kind of brokenness is tied to economic and educational disparities.

In response to conventional views of African-American families in the 1900s, a landmark study appeared in the 1970s by Herbert G. Gutman. Gutman challenged the notion that the root cause of the disintegration of the black family was slavery. His work analyzed the black family from slavery to the 1920s. He argued the disintegration of the black family was a modern phenomenon and that African-Americans had remarkable capacities to adapt to their difficult circumstances and to establish strong connections with their families, even while they were enslaved.

As a black Christian man with a multi-ethnic heritage and a multi-racial and multi-cultural family, it is my conviction that a means by which God can keep black, brown, and other Christian minority families close to Jesus, close to each other, and structurally intact is by the Christian men in these families committing themselves to lead their families in regular family worship in accordance with the scriptures.

Christian worship is a pattern of life (Eph. 4:1; 4:17). And this pattern of life touched every part of the ancient Christian family (Eph. 5:21-6:9). By family worship, I specifically mean the intentional act of families reading scripture together, praying scripture together, and living in accordance with the scripture together in the home for the purpose of Christ-like conformity. When black and brown Christian men lead their families in family worship, they will help dispel the racialized myth of the black and brown man within their own homes and their own social contexts, as the godliness of their families radiate throughout the communities in which they live.

Black and brown children need to see their black or brown daddy regularly lead their families in the home in the reading of scripture, praying of scripture, and in worshipping under the authority of scripture in order to dispel from their own thinking the caricatures of black and brown men seen in the media and in order to see that the bad examples of certain black and brown men in their communities or in the media do not accurately represent all black and brown men.

And the wife of a black or brown man needs to see this too. This kind of spiritual leadership in the home will show both the wife and children that their leader is a Jesus-chasing man and that his greatest desire is for his family to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. And this kind of spiritual leadership will enable the minority family to push against the lie that black and brown men are prone to certain vices.

But how can black and brown men practically lead their families in family worship in the home? There is no hard and fast method that monolithically applies to all black and brown families. Every minority family is different regardless of race or cultural background. There are many differences in families within the same race. How minority Christian men lead their families in family worship depends in part on schedules and circumstances and their biblical and theological learning. I offer 5 practical examples:

1. Regularly Read Scripture with Your Family

The bible is the living and breathing word of God. Since this is so, minority Christian men should NOT let the church be the primary or the only place where their families sit together under the reading of scripture. Rather, minority Christian men should make it a practice to read the bible with their families. This could take place during breakfast, at the dinner table, or at night prior to putting the kids to bed. The church is very important for all families, but the home is where the bulk of biblical and theological instruction should take place.

2. Regularly Explain Scripture to Your Families

Reading scripture with your family is important. But minority Christian men should also regularly explain the Scriptures to their families. One doesn’t need to be a bible scholar or formally trained to do this. But one does need to study the bible to do this. God places men as spiritual leaders over their families. This requires us men to labor to understand scripture to the best of our abilities for the sake of our souls, but also so that we can explain it to our families. Thus, when we read scripture together with our families, we should also explain the meaning of the text to them in clear and simple ways.

3. Apply Scripture Regularly to Your Families

Scripture is practical. The bible was written to the people of God to instruct them how to live. It was not written primarily to be the object of academic study by scholars. Thus, non-specialists can understand and apply the bible as they sit under teaching and preaching in the church and as they study, pray, and rely upon the Spirit in their own personal devotional lives. Thus, minority Christian men should carefully consider practical ways the bible applies uniquely to their individual families. For example, a text about loving our neighbor might apply to a disrespectful child or a husband and wife in conflict and help them to exercise love for one another within the family structure in different ways than it would apply to how one should love a neighbor who doesn’t live within the same family unit.

4. Pray Scripture Regularly with Your Families

Scripture should guide all Christian prayers, especially prayers with our families. As minority Christian men read scripture with, explain scripture to, and apply scripture to their families, we should also regularly pray scripture with our families. Doing this will model how to pray in accordance with God’s will and will reinforce the importance of the word of God in the lives of the Christian family in matters pertaining to eternal life and godliness. Leading our families in this way will also give our families confidence that they can follow our leadership as we seek to follow and live in accordance with the revealed word of God in obedience to Jesus Christ.

5. Sing Scripture Regularly with Your Families

Singing scripture regularly with our families will help our families exult in God with the scriptural truths that we’ve internalized through reading, explaining, applying, and praying scripture together.

To clarify, doing these 5 things will not guarantee perfectly united families. Family life is complicated. And, quite frankly, sometimes even the most God honoring family will experience seasons when members within that family will get on one another’s nerves and experience tension. But minority Christian families stand a better chance of living in Spirit empowered love with one another until death separates them if the Christian husbands and fathers in these families will spiritually lead them in regular family worship in the home for the praise of God’s glorious grace.

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