The following is a transcript of Episode #2 of the Doxology Matters podcast, “Family Worship”.
Our desire is to help Christians think deeply about God’s Word as we praise Him.
Pastor Keith: Hi, I’m Keith McMinn. Welcome to this podcast episode of Doxology Matters, where we desire to help Christians think deeply about God’s Word as we praise Him. Today I’m real excited to be joined by my friend and great brother, Pastor Kevin Jones, a local pastor serving in Hampton Roads. Good to have you.
Kevin Jones: Thanks for having me, Keith. Excited to be here.
Pastor Keith: How long have you been in ministry?
Kevin Jones: I think it’s been about 12 years now. I’ve been doing lots of different things. I was in a church in college and seminary. Then I went full-time in South Carolina, and then I moved up here to Hampton about two years ago.
Pastor Keith: So about full time how long?
Kevin Jones: Full-time ministry has been roughly five years or so, closing in on six, I think.
Pastor Keith: So you did a bachelors?
Kevin Jones: Yes. I actually got a bachelors degree in music. So I was music ministry, worship ministry, something I really loved. Then started to realize it was more youth ministry, so I got a biblical studies degree from Liberty. Once I really realized God’s called me to student ministry, I went and got a doctorate in family ministry at Southern Seminary.
Pastor Keith: And for those of you that are listening, it is the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, as know as the flagship seminary. Well, we’re glad to have you. We want to talk specifically today about what family worship looks like. You have shared with me that you wrote your dissertation on family worship. Could you just share the thesis and maybe your target audience with us?
Kevin Jones: Sure. The difference between the dissertation I did and one for a PhD that would be completely research is mine was about half research and then half of it was an implementation at a local church. I developed a curriculum for a class, for parents, to learn how to disciple their children, to learn how to do family worship. Then I taught that class at my church in South Carolina. It was called Fairforest Baptist Church. So that was my target audience was that group of parents. I had ten families represented in that class, and they took a survey before and a survey after. I used all of that information in the latter parts of that dissertation.
Pastor Keith: So that’s the practical aspect of – was it the DMin?
Kevin Jones: Yeah, it’s a Doctor of Educational Ministry, so it’s kind of a take on the DMin that adds an education aspect to it.
Pastor Keith: What was your hope to gain personally throughout – I know when we study, the Lord teaches us things that we’re studying for a particular purpose, but He teaches us along the way. What was kind of your hopes about what God would do in you? And what did He do in you?
Kevin Jones: As often happens in something like that, what I hoped from the beginning was different and better than – well, what I got at the end was better than what I had hoped for. I just really hoped for more knowledge and just to learn how to be a better minister, better youth pastor. I got that. I feel I got that, but I also learned how to be a better dad. I was in this program as I was starting to be a dad. My son was about one or two-years-old when I finished up. Just personally the things that I gained, the friends that I made in that program that we walked through together, just gained a knowledge of God’s Word and a knowledge of what it means to be a faithful parent, to be a faithful minister.
Pastor Keith: That’s awesome. We are people of God’s Word and everything we do should have a biblical root to it. What are some key scriptural texts that as you were working on your thesis that really were central to your practical flowing out from?
Kevin Jones: I focused on four passages from the Word of God for my dissertation. The two main ones that focused on specifically family worship, Deuteronomy 6. It’s probably the most popular verse, most popular passage on family worship. I’ll just read a little bit of it. Deuteronomy 6 verse 4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.” Now those first two verses, we may recognize, those are the verses that when Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” this is what He read. This is what he quotes is this right here. So we would be right to really pay attention to what’s said. Then after that in verse 6 of chapter 6 of Deuteronomy, it says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.” Verse 7, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” So we take that verse saying, “Oh, this is written to parents, not to ministers specifically.”
Pastor Keith: So we see here at the beginning that it’s a call exhortation to us to love the Lord our God with all our –
Kevin Jones: Yes.
Pastor Keith: – our heart, our soul, our mind. But also as the text moved forward, it’s an exhortation for us as families to care for our children. How many would you say, out of 100, would you say families have a worship time or a devotional time?
Kevin Jones: I would say anywhere – if you take a group of 100 people, 100 parents, groups of parents at a church, my best guess would anywhere – maybe ten do a specific, every week, we are going to meet together and have a family worship time. Now I’d say a larger majority of those talk about – like it says, talk with them while you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise. Of course they’re going to talk about God. They’re going to relate life things to God and point to Him and His Word throughout the week. But as far as specific, “We are sitting down and this is our family worship time,” not very many people do that, I don’t think. However, you poll that same group of 100, I’d say close to 100 percent of them would say, “We should do that.”
Pastor Keith: That was my next followup question. How many would you say, dads, walk around and feel like, “Man, I’m really neglecting my family because I don’t have a time where we all gather together and sing and pray and read a Scripture together.” Would you say that many guys struggle with that as they lead their families?
Kevin Jones: I would say the ones that know that they should do it struggle with it by not knowing how to do it. Their biggest hinderance would be, “I want to do that, but I have no idea how. I don’t even know where to start.” The other side of that is there’s dads who – or moms too, they don’t even know that they should do that because of something that I call outsourcing. Parents, they’re going to outsource their kids’ education to a school. They’re going to outsource their sporting – I’m not a sports guy, really. I don’t really play sports, but I love to watch them.
Pastor Keith: Except the Braves.
Kevin Jones: Yeah, I love the Braves. Sad, yeah, but it’s okay. They’re going to send them to a coach. They’re going to send – for music, they’re going to send their kids’ to a music teacher. So they think, “Oh well, I need my kid discipled and to grow in their faith. I’m going to send them to church.” Which is great. They should do that. But that idea of outsourcing in our society has led to parents who think, “Well, I don’t need to do any discipling. That’s what the church is for.” When it really should be a combination of both, the kids are being discipled at church and at home. That would be I’d say, as far as hinderances go, if they know they should do it, they don’t know how. And some of them just don’t even know that they should.
Pastor Keith: Where do you think we – what point in history do you think that began to slide? Do you think as we approached the consumer age where parents and families are just wanting to receive and plug their kids into things that the family discipleship maybe took a backseat or has it always took a backseat? I could think about the Reformation, what that looked like for Martian Luther caring for his family. From our reading, I know he really tried to do that. Where do you think that really started to change as far as emphasis in the home?
Kevin Jones: In all the research that I did for this project, what I found was that it’s never been done well, and never been done perfectly. One of the things that one of my professors, Timothy Paul Jones, who is one of the foremost writers in this topic right now – in the class that I had with him, one of the things he said is, “The glorious past that we should look to for when family worship was done perfectly was Eden before the Fall.” That’s the last time it was done right. So yeah, I think there is an aspect of the consumerism in our society and this idea of outsourcing. I think that’s affected it some, but I did readings from books that were published in 1910 that they were pointing, “Parents are not doing this.” So as far back as a century ago, even before that, this has always been something that church leaders have said, “This needs to happen more,” and it’s just not happening enough.
Pastor Keith: Wow. That’s really helpful to think about back to the beginning, before the garden, that that was in – that would be in perfect alignment. And since the Fall, we see that reality played out. I know just personally, our family has had – we call it family worship time, and we’ll go in seasons of a week we’re meeting together. We sing, read a Scripture, and we’ll have a time of prayer, and we’ll do that for a while, and then it’ll kind of peter out. Sometimes my kids will say, “Hey Dad, what about family worship?” I’m like, “Yeah, we need to get back to that.” I have experienced that same kind of thing of walking like, “I know I need to be doing this.” But it’s also encouraging to hear the Scripture in Deuteronomy about it’s as you’re going along the way. That we are still feeding and caring for our family along as we go.
Kevin Jones: That’s right. One of my mentors, the first church that I worked at in college and seminary, Pastor Dane Skelton, in South Boston, Virginia, one of the things he told me he’d always do with his kids is if they would watch any movie, at the end of the movie he would ask questions. “Okay, how does this relate to a biblical worldview? What did this make you think? What did this make you think?” And he said as his kids got older they would say, “Dad, I can’t believe you made us do that. Now I can’t watch a movie without thinking those things.” But I think his doing of that was following this. As you’re walking, as you’re doing things, as you’re just going about life, these are the things you should talk about and be thinking about. And for him, he instilled that in his children to where that’s how they think now. And I think that is, in a lot of ways, that’s equally as important as having a specific time of family worship.
Pastor Keith: That’s excellent, man. Excellent. When we think about shepherding in our home, we think about that. Who is responsible for the shepherding aspect in a home? Who would you say that –
Kevin Jones: Also, as we talk about this, I want to point us to a New Testament passage where the Apostle Paul speaks on this. In Ephesians, he talks about this, if I can find Ephesians. You’d think I would know, all the seminary I have. Here it is. Ephesians chapter 6, parents love Ephesians 6 verse 1 that says, “Children obey your parent in the Lord, for this is right.” Hey, great. We can all agree with that as parents. Right? Verse 2 goes on, “Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise, that I may go well with you and you may live long in the land.” So he’s quoting from the Ten Commandments there. But then it goes on. This is a culturally – it goes against what you would expect in this culture of the day. Now fathers are addressed and it says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but instead, bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
So you see, Paul puts the responsibility on fathers, and I would say on both sets of parents. I would say it equally falls – one of the demographics I worked with a lot at Fairforest when I did my project, we had a high percentage of single parents at that church. So we would say, yes, God gave this command to fathers, as we see Paul writing here, but this does not discount mothers and the word that single mom’s do in their kids’ lives. Yeah, the word there is specific to fathers that Paul uses, but I don’t think we can discount what mothers do as well. So yeah, I’d say it’s the parents responsibility. But I also think there’s a church responsibility to equip those parents to do that.
Pastor Keith: So if there’s a dear sister who is maybe a single mom caring for her children, she can still apply this, if the father is not in the home –
Kevin Jones: Absolutely.
Pastor Keith: – of caring for her little ones with God’s Word?
Kevin Jones: Right. And the other verse that I used in my dissertation was in the first chapter of James, where it speaks about caring for the orphan and widow. And we just talked about, single parents have effectively been widowed either by death or by another means, and that word orphan can mean fatherless or motherless. So we as the church are commanded to care for those people. And as a result – one of the great things about the result of that project is we – I talked about that and I talked about how children of single moms need positive father figures in their lives. One of the things that I didn’t initiate, the other people in the class said, “Hey, yeah, this is great. We need to have a guys campout where we invest and disciple these young boys at our church.” And that was a great – to me it’s like the Word of God was speaking to people in that class, and that was a great result of that class that we had.
Pastor Keith: That’s fantastic. How frequent would you say that we should think about having, if we have family worship in the home, how frequent do think would be wise? Every day? Once a week? What do you think would be some benchmarks to dads in the church that are listening to this thinking, “How can I take steps towards a more faithful shepherd in the home?”
Kevin Jones: You’ll read anything from – there’s a presbyterian author named Joel Beeke that recommends twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. That is far too ambitious for some. That may be the ideal, but again in our society that’s sometimes just not possible. I like to tell people at least do it once a week. But the biggest thing that I say is do what you will do consistently. Whatever it is that you can do and your family can consistently commit to, that’s what you should do. I think it’s a great idea to do it once a week, at least. There’s obviously nowhere in Scripture that specifically says that. But again, if you’re not sitting down every week or every day and having a family worship time, you should at least be talking about these things as you walk, as you go along the way.
Pastor Keith: Wow. That’s encouraging. It is convicting at the same time.
Kevin Jones: Right. It absolutely is, yeah. I think it’s Martyn Lloyd Jones in his commentary on Ephesians 6:4, he just talks about, “We are the guardians and custodians of the souls of our children. What a dread responsibility.” I’m quoting from memory, but it’s essentially, what a dread responsibility we have. We are the guardians and custodians of the souls of our children, and that is humbling, but it’s also part of the promise that God gives us by His Spirit to enable us to do that.
Pastor Keith: Wow, that’s a rich quote. I remember when we were doing family worship when our kids were a little bit younger, and the littlest one was not always engaged.
Kevin Jones: Right. That is a challenge.
Pastor Keith: She was a little fussy and would sometimes go upstairs if she didn’t like the time and the way things were going. Have you every had any experiences like that to like, “I’m not doing family worship right now.”
Kevin Jones: Oh, yeah. My kids are still – I have a three-and-a-half-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, so yeah, when they’re very young, it’s more difficult. And especially when you have a wide range of kids and kids at different ages. You do what you can do. But I think what we should remember, something that Al Mohler said, and I know you know of his work, but he says, “The Word of God can reach places where we cannot go.” And he talks about how just speaking and doing these things consistently – the Word of God is going into little ears that may not comprehend aside from the Spirit of God, and we have to trust Him for that. I’ve seen this in both of my kids’ lives.
When we first had had our son – he was probably about one-year-old. We were living in South Carolina. We had a small little house. Didn’t even have a dining room table. So we would eat dinner sitting at our counter, and he’d be in his high chair. And every night, I’d grab one of his hands and my wife would grab his other hand, and we’d hold hands and we’d pray. So we did that just all the time. He had no idea what was going on, and I didn’t really think much of it until one night we sat down to dinner and he reached his hands out to us, as to say, “Hey, this is what we do when we eat.” And he was one-year old. He didn’t know what we were doing. And then my daughter recently, we did something similar with her, because we’re trying to teach my son to pray, and he’s learning. He’s doing that. But now we say, “All right, we’re going to pray,” and we put our hands together in the praying position. And now our daughter, our one-year-old daughter, is doing that as well.
So you just see, doing things consistently like that and your children just seeing you do those things, it’s going somewhere. They’re learning things, even when they’re young. So again, I think it’s just consistently choosing to do something and choosing to say, “I’m going to disciple and I’m going to do these things even if it’s difficult.”
Pastor Keith: Yeah, that’s helpful. And if we miss a week, we just got to get back up on the horse and ride.
Kevin Jones: And the goal like you said, you talked about, “Hey, dad, remember when we did family worship?” What a great goal. I did this so consistently, my kids expect it and want it now. That I think is where we should try to get to.
Pastor Keith: As you think about books that you studied in your preparation, what books would you recommend to dads that might want to grow in this? I know Don Whitney has something on –
Kevin Jones: Yes, Don Whitney. His Family Worship is very good.
Pastor Keith: A small volume that’s –
Kevin Jones: Yep. It’s very easy to read. That’s more of a – that’s helpful in the sense that it’s, “This is why we do this. This is kind of some guidelines to follow.” One very practical source is called Faith Conversations for Families, and I’m blanking on the author. I could probably look it up on my phone here in a second. But that has 52 lessons that you can do at home, and it’s – sorry. I’m looking this up on my phone, because I really want to say what the author’s name is and I’m blanking. But yeah, it’s 52, so it’s one per week for a year of faith conversations that you can have with your kids. So that’s a great one.
And I am going to find this, I promise. Here’s the website. Here it is. All right, and I have some sources on my website, kevinclarkjones.com, under family ministry resources. These things are here. It is Faith Conversations for Families by Jim Burns. There we go. So Jim Burns is the author of that. That’s a great place to start, because yeah, it’s just, “Okay, I’m going to have a one week – I have something every week for a year right here in this book.” So that’s a great practical resource. Like you said, Family Worship by Don Whitney. There’s a book by Tedd Tripp called Shepherding a Child’s Heart. If you’ve heard of that one, that one’s very good.
There’s also some great free online resources. Again, I link to this on my website here, to Sojourn Church in Louisville, Kentucky. That’s Timothy Paul Jones’s church. They put a lot of stuff together for kids from birth to eighth grade to do. They have something called the North Star Catechism. That sounds like a scary word. It’s catechism does Baptist, but it’s just a question and answer series they can start when they’re three, and it just kind of adds on until they’re in eighth grade, just going through some of the basics of the faith. So there are resources out there. And I do think it’s the responsibility of the church to put those in parents’ hands.
Pastor Keith: If you’re listening to this podcast, I would encourage you to go to Pastor Kevin’s website for resources. John MacArthur, I’ve heard it shared that he has made in his families life, for their children, they always have hymns playing in the house. Should singing be a part of family life? If so, what types of songs should we sing? Do you guys sing as you meet together in your family worship time or as you travel to the store and back?
Kevin Jones: We try to, yeah. My son is obsessed with the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman, if you’re familiar with that. Great movie. He just loves that soundtrack, and he knows every word to every song. And it makes me think, “Man, I wish I could – I need to get him to listen to Christian music, so he could do the same thing as well.” It’s just what he really loves, what he really enjoys. But what that does show me is how much music gets into his heart and into his head. So that reminds me singing should be an important part of what we do.
I have a guitar at home. Obviously I can play guitar if we want. We do that sometimes. My kids like just – they like playing – they’re bad at it, but they love playing guitar. They’re really good at brass instruments, which is weird. I don’t know why that is. So music is a big part of our lives, and we want it to be. The great news is, if you’re not musical, there’s this great website called YouTube out there that has worship songs with lyric slides. What a great way to worship as a family. What a great resource. A free resource to say, “Yeah, I’m not musical, but I want to sing together. Let’s just bring up this video, this worship song on YouTube,” if it’s live worship or just a lyric video. So there’s plenty of resources.
One of the things that in my research I found, someone was writing about the difference between contemporary music and hymns, and we’re obviously not getting into that. But one of the things that he said was – he was arguing we should have more hymns in church, and he said he was somewhere where they only did contemporary music, and this father came up and said, “I’m just sad that my kids will never hear hymns anymore.” His point was churches should do hymns. And I read that and I thought, “Why don’t you do hymns at home? Why don’t you sing songs at home?” But to me that mindset was showing that outsourcing of only the church can do music, which is just not true. Everyone can do this and should do this.
Pastor Keith: Wow, that’s really thoughtful. That’s a good point about other resources that we have, because I know there’s families out there listening that think, “Man, I can’t play an instrument,” or, “I can’t sing,” and maybe, “My wife can’t either,” or, “We’re just not a musical family, so what do we do?” Well, we have those resources like YouTube or you can go to gettymusic.com and listen to rich Christ-centered songs or Sovereign Grace Ministries and many other – CityAlight in Australia.
Kevin Jones: Yeah, they’re great.
Pastor Keith: Really great ministries that wrote “Only a Holy God.” Stuart Townend, Andrew Peterson, Laura Story’s got great songs that we can listen to and sing along. Because we do see, even though some of us may not be musical, we see many commands in Scripture to sing and use our voice to praise God, even if we’re not musical. That command is not written just for those that like music.
Kevin Jones: That’s right. Absolutely.
Pastor Keith: It is for the redeemed born-again Christian to praise God with.
Kevin Jones: Yes, without a doubt.
Pastor Keith: What would you say to dad’s, one maybe encouraging word that, if could have any father or group of dads in the room, that you would say, “Man, guys, be mindful of this,” what would you say?
Kevin Jones: I would just say be mindful of your time, would be the biggest thing. Because that is one of the biggest hinderances that I’ve found is, “Well, we just don’t have time.” Especially parents of older kids, teenagers, “Well, we’re at dance this night with our daughter, and our son has soccer practice here,” and all of those things are great things. But if you’re doing so much as a family that you just don’t have time to sit down together, even at dinner, and have a family worship time just during a meal one night a week, you’re just too busy. So my goal for me as my kids get older is to just not be that busy.
I want my kids to be involved in things and succeed at things. Of course I do. Every good parent should want that. But their faith in God is more important than any success and anything earthly that they will have. We as parents have to remember that, because I just naturally want everything – the best thing, everything for my kids, every single thing in life that they can possibly have. But what use is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul. Our first priority should be the faith of our children, speaking to them the words of truth. And then of course in that, you can have a faith talk driving to the baseball field for practice. Of course you can do things like that. Those are important things. You shouldn’t neglect those things that God has given us as good, but don’t neglect the Word of God in favor of the things of the world.
Pastor Keith: Amen to that. We were talking at lunch today about marriage and being married, and some of our guys that are working production were talking about the value, the why and what that looks like, because now I’ve been married since January 4th, 2003. I believe that’s right. Joy, hope you’re not listening. But our wives are a gift from God.
Kevin Jones: Absolutely.
Pastor Keith: And man, has God used my wife to encourage me in the faith. And marriage is a tool that God uses to sanctify us. So when we think about caring for our wives, this treasure that God’s given us, maybe what’s some encouraging word? I can think of a couple Scriptures that come to mind. “Live with your wives in an understanding way.” “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.”
Kevin Jones: That’s right before this passage in Ephesians 6. That’s one I would point to. How great a responsibility we as husbands have. I mean, we’re supposed to love our wives that way that Christ loved the church and died for her. That responsibility is beyond what we are humanly capable of, and I think that’s the weight that I feel when I read that verse. There is no way that I could ever love anyone the way that Christ loves, not only me, but the whole church. And yet that’s the command I’m given. But what we have in that is the Holy Spirit to help us with that.
And one of the things that I – I can’t remember if it was a blog post or a book, that shattering your kid-centered universe – remembering that the most important relationship in your home is your marriage. Because it’s just so easy – I remember when my daughter was just born – and of course, there are seasons where this is going to happen. My wife and I talked about feeling like ships passing in the night, and that can happen sometimes. But just don’t let your marriage stay there. Your marriage should be the first and foremost relationship in the family.
Pastor Keith: Amen. If you’re a dad listening, I would just say be careful about how you love and care for your wife. Don’t lord over her. Be a humble servant man that cares for your wife, and just as Pastor Kevin said, it’s in step with the Spirit that we’re able to care for this treasure that God’s given us in a way that honors them, honors the Savior, and then our children see that and will want to model that as they get older.
Kevin Jones: Absolutely.
Pastor Keith: It’s been such a joy to have you. Thank you for being here on this second episode of Doxology Matters. Thank you very much.
Kevin Jones: Thank you, Keith. Appreciate the opportunity.
Pastor Keith: You bet.