I cannot say enough about how much we have spiritually grown as a family since attending our family integrated church 6 years ago. We are blessed to be surrounded by a supportive church family that meets for worship on Sundays, has a weekly fellowship potluck following the service and has monthly prayer and men and women's accountability meetings, as well as other social events!
Moving to a family integrated church was a big switch for us. Both Mark and I grew up in age-segregated churches and after we married we attended one of the largest churches in Charlotte for 9 years before making the big switch. It was different, to say the least.
However, since we began going to our church, Mark has felt encouraged by the other men to LEAD his family in nightly family worship. Was it natural to him? No. He didn't grow up with family worship. Mark tells of how his father, though a Baptist minister, only opened the Bible for family Bible reading twice a year (Easter and Christmas). This family worship thing was something that Mark learned to do. Is he a perfect teacher? No. But, then again, is anyone? Only Jesus!
All I can say, is that when men are "forced" (er, encouraged!) to lead their families in this regular spiritual mentorship, as God has them naturally programmed to do...WOW! God brings together the family in ways that couldn't be done without Dad taking that nightly spiritual leadership role! Men desire to lead their families, but are either never asked, required or allowed to take on that role.
Since starting regular family worship, our kids are now closer to Mark than ever (we have always homeschooled...he's always been very involved, just not in this aspect). They are learning Scripture and understanding Scriptural concepts that most adults can't wrap their minds around. All this is learned either alongside Mark or a day or two behind him! Mark didn't need to go to seminary. He just needed to study Scripture, read it aloud and explain the concepts as he noticed them. The Holy Spirit does the rest...and oh, how cool it is to watch Him move through our worship and Bible reading times!
I'll also say that our pastor has a wonderful way of speaking to all ages. There are concepts that our children don't understand...that's okay. They'll either ask us later (they take notes and write down their questions) or they'll catch what they can for their age and that's exactly what the Holy Spirit had in mind for them! It's kind of like when we have the littles sit in on our history or science lessons. We call it the "school bus stop approach". They listen and their brains "get off the bus" after they have exceeded their attention span. Does that mean it was fruitless? On the contrary...they learn MUCH MORE than we assumed they were able. Same with a family integrated church...we always underestimated the Holy Spirit's workings in our children's hearts and minds! DUH...they have the SAME Holy Spirit we do! ;)
I could go on and on, but I will leave it at that. Oh, and just a few weeks ago...the fathers and sons are on our church's father and son retreat! While they were there they called to say that they were having a blast and that they were all learning so much from the teaching that all the dads were doing throughout each day! I LOVE that!
For those who need idea starters on how to do family worship, here ya go! It's not difficult. It just requires a committed, godly man to take up the natural, God-given leadership role that he hungers for whether he realizes it yet or not (and in the absence of the man, the woman can take up that role in her family). For more information on how to find a family integrated church in your area, click here! To see how we teach our children to listen and learn in church, check out this blog post from a while back!