Family Worship with Guests

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JD

Puritan Board Freshman
Two questions regarding family worship. I am interested to hear what your all's usual practice is in these situations.

Context: My wife and I live ~300 miles away from each of our familes - in different directions. As such we travel frequently to visit, often over long weekends. We also often have family come to visit us - often during the work week. We have three very young children. When at home our goal is to worship the Lord together each evening after dinner [10-15 min], with a longer time together on Sunday evenings as our church does not have an evening service. In practice we manage 3-4 nights per week. No one else in either of our families is reformed, though most are church attenders of either the broad evangelical or Roman variety.

Question #1: How do you approach family worship when guests are in your home, either spending the night or visiting for dinner?

Question #2: How do you approach family worship when staying as a guest in others' homes?

Bonus Question #3: How do you approach the Lord's Day when visiting as a guest with someone who does not keep the day?

Both situations happen often enough that we need a "plan." I'd estimate we have overnight guests 50-60 nights per year, and spend 30ish nights as guests with others.
 

beloved7

Puritan Board Freshman
For question 1, the Lord has blessed us with a wonderful yet modest home which really isn’t spacious for entertaining. As essential as Christian hospitality is, we do not do much entertaining. And when we do, it would be before family worship as we do it before bedtime. That is the time which is easiest to keep consistent for us I have found.

As for the following two questions, I personally avoid staying anywhere on the Lord’s Day other than our own home, or with brethren from church of course. Part of keeping the Sabbath holy is being in a likeminded environment, so to speak.

My employment doesn’t require me to travel so this might be easier said than done depending on circumstances.
 

alexmacarie

Puritan Board Freshman
Since you asked,

1. Would respectfully request anyone staying that they join us for worship, usually after breakfast each morning, or before work (unless they need to be away before everyone else is awake), and then usually after dinner each evening. If someone was insistently refusing or being awkward about joining for worship when staying over, would probably prefer to not offer to have them stay in future. With family though, or anyone else really in my experience at least, they've always been happy to sit through it if not sing along with the Psalm, usually out of gratitude that you've opened your home to them to stay.

If they're just visiting for dinner, depending on the circumstances, we may just have worship before they arrive or after they leave, but usually we just have worship together with guests after dinner.

2. If they're happy to have worship together then great, if not would just have it on our own.

3. Would tend to avoid staying somewhere that makes the Sabbath difficult, hopefully in your case your family would be respectful of your Sabbath keeping.

Wishing you all the best in these matters
 
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JD

Puritan Board Freshman
Which day do you travel home?
I'm not sure if this was directed at me, but over the years we have settled on traveling Monday AM if at all possible and overnight Sunday if not. My thought process is that if someone is going to need to "sacrifice" in order for us to keep the Lord's Day, it should be us and not our parents, out of respect for them and their wishes to spend as much time with the grandchildren as possible. Leaving Saturday night in order to gather with our church on the Lord's Day would put the sacrifice on them.
 

SolaScriptura

Puritanboard Brimstone
We've done this for decades. It's just normal to us now. Except we're religious about our devotions - we do it daily. And for more than 15-20 minutes (even when they were infants).

To your questions:

1. When someone is in our house we inform them of our practice and invite them to join us. We always say that if they don't want to be a part, that's fine... but we've NEVER had someone decline to at least sit in the room and watch. But if that were to occur, I'd suggest they go hang out in their sleeping room until we are finished.

2. When in someone else's house... if that family does devotions, we join them. If not, we inform them of our practice and invite them to participate with us... if they decline (has only happened once in 20+ years), then we retire to our sleeping area to do our devotions.

3. Well, we arrange it so that we are never at an unbeliever's house on Sunday. Usually I'd make Saturday the travel day so that we are home on Sunday. But when that hasn't been possible, we nonetheless arrange it so that we're at a church goer's house on Saturday night. Every. single. person we stay with is at least sensitive to the fact that *for us* the Lord's Day ought be kept the entire day (most of our friends and extended family make worship service the absolute priority, but after church activities, they basically recreate as they like... still better than most, but certainly not sabbatarian). When I'm a guest, I can't make them NOT go pick up pizza or something like that. We simply try to keep it as worshipful as possible.
 

Polanus1561

Puritan Board Junior
I'm not sure if this was directed at me, but over the years we have settled on traveling Monday AM if at all possible and overnight Sunday if not. My thought process is that if someone is going to need to "sacrifice" in order for us to keep the Lord's Day, it should be us and not our parents, out of respect for them and their wishes to spend as much time with the grandchildren as possible. Leaving Saturday night in order to gather with our church on the Lord's Day would put the sacrifice on them.
Sorry, just asking out of curiousity. It seems you can be flexible with your work since you can travel on a Monday home? Why not then go to your parents' house earlier during the week then (assuming you are flexible with work time)?
 

JD

Puritan Board Freshman
Sorry, just asking out of curiousity. It seems you can be flexible with your work since you can travel on a Monday home? Why not then go to your parents' house earlier during the week then (assuming you are flexible with work time)?
I should clarify. When I say Monday morning I mean like 3am. We have on several ocassions woken up at such a time and driven home, where my wife drops me off at work (I am a teacher). During the summer when I am off we do indeed travel midweek for this reason.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I've noticed this in the original "Directory for Family Worship" http://www.doyouconfess.com/the-westminster-standards/the-directory-for-family-worship/

"At family-worship, a special care is to be had that each family keep by themselves; neither requiring, inviting, nor admitting persons from divers families, unless it be those who are lodged with them, or at meals, or otherwise with them upon some lawful occasion."

I believe the concern of the Westminster Divines was for family worship not becoming a substitute for the authority God has established in the church, so I don't think it's necessarily relevant to you, but it may help think about what your practice is.

Our current practice (it is just my wife and I) is to do daily family worship in our bedroom before going to sleep as that's the most consistent time we're together each day, though occasionally we'll do it after dinner (such as if I have a late meeting at church). It does make me wonder if we should be in the habit of inviting others if we have folks staying with us, but this is very infrequent for us.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Junior
Anyone who is visiting us usually sits through family worship--it's before the breakfast table is left. When visiting others, we're flexible, except for Sabbath worship, where we pretty much always leave the host family to go to church. All of our relations who are not church-going know these habits.
I'd be inclined, just for practical reasons, to cut back on visits--not saying you should, but man, that's a lot of visiting. We have purposely left a nearly insurmountable buffer of distance between our little family and all our relations, just to keep visits down to once every couple years at the most.
 

JD

Puritan Board Freshman
I'd be inclined, just for practical reasons, to cut back on visits--not saying you should, but man, that's a lot of visiting.
It's a lot, comparatively. But its not as bad as it sounds. I am a teacher so I have ~12 weeks vacation per year. We like to use that time to visit family.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
Question #1: How do you approach family worship when guests are in your home, either spending the night or visiting for dinner?

Question #2: How do you approach family worship when staying as a guest in others' homes?
Good evening!

If they are reformed, then it is much more natural to do what we normally do and make it more formal, as most likely they will be familiar with it. If they are not reformed, we call it Bible time and keep it pretty informal, like a devotion, which all Christians are familiar with. We read the Bible, talk about the passage, and pray. If there are guests that join us, I try to give them an opportunity to teach and share so they feel as if they are an important part of it.
 

JD

Puritan Board Freshman
Good evening!

If they are reformed, then it is much more natural to do what we normally do and make it more formal, as most likely they will be familiar with it. If they are not reformed, we call it Bible time and keep it pretty informal, like a devotion, which all Christians are familiar with. We read the Bible, talk about the passage, and pray. If there are guests that join us, I try to give them an opportunity to teach and share so they feel as if they are an important part of it.
I like that! That is helpful thank you!
 
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