CON Contact Us DON Donate
Our History General Assembly Worldwide Outreach Ministries Standards Resources

Question and Answer

Family Worship


What is the OPC position on family worship? In chapter II of the Directory for Public Worship of God, there is a reference to "private worship" to distinguish the practice from public worship, but nowhere in the directory (that I could find) is the subject of private (individual or family) worship addressed with the exception of private "exercises" on the Sabbath. Although the Westminster Confession in Chapter XXI states that "God is to be private families daily," it appears that the OPC does not emphasize this element of Christian "piety." Although most Presbyterian denominations have not adopted the historic Directory for Family Worship, even the PCA adopted a position in its BCO under the title of "Christian Life in the Home." Is this merely another example of the difference between the Northern Presbyterians (OPC) and Southern Presbyterians (PCA)? An additional question would be the OPC's position on Christian piety which clearly influences the overall position on family worship (confessional standards aside).


You ask some probing and worthy questions. In answer to your question about family worship in the OPC, notice that our directory is "The Directory for the Public Worship of God." So private and family worship are not addressed, although they ought to be. The reason for the absence of family worship is not that it is not practiced in many OPC homes, but that our modern culture has made it difficult to assemble whole families for worship because of the divergent schedules of households with two working parents and teen-agers who hold down paying jobs. It's like pulling hen's teeth to get them all together at one time, except on the Lord's days. This is the scourge of our time. Perhaps it has contributed to our times being called "post-Christian."

I am the product of a Christian home where family worship was a settled practice. I was the sixth child of seven in my Iowa farm family. My father died in 1964. And after his death my mother's youngest brother (who had been a teen-ager when my folks were married and spent a lot of time in their home) wrote me a letter telling me that my father couldn't read when he was married (Dad had to work on the farm, since his father had died due to an accident during Dad's boyhood), but Dad set it as his goal to learn to read in order to lead family worship (we called it "the family altar"). So my mother, who was well educated, taught him to read.

I was born long after that, but my father led family worship invariably as long back as I remember. We each had a Bible and read verse by verse in turn in the order of our ages and reversed the process on Sunday mornings. Nothing was allowed to displace our reading and my father's carrying us all to the throne of grace in his prayers. Ours was a Presbyterian USA Church, which didn't do well with settled pastors. I can remember only two resident ministers. It was not "modernistic" or "liberal," but it was never a strong influence in my life, so I credit family worship for a solid Christian upbringing.

As I've already stated, the OPC homes that I know well do practice family worship. In fact, they do well. But it is neither mandated nor universally practiced in the OPC. I wish it were; and in my fifty-five years in the pastorate, I have advocated it. The result has often been generations of youth raised in the Word. The foundation unit of the visible church is the Christian home. I've been in Dutch homes where Scripture and prayer follows every meal. Their children didn't know when their father would close the reading, so they were required to repeat his final words or be reprimanded for their inattention. I've been in pastors' homes in which singing of hymns and Psalms was added. Many of them included memorizing the Catechism. What a revolution in the church would come with the return of family worship! When you become members of an OPC, use your influence to encourage family worship! And may God's blessing rest firmly on you and yours.

About Q&A

"Questions and Answers" is a weekly feature of the OPC website. The answers come from individual ministers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expressing their own convictions and do not necessarily represent an "official" position of the Church, especially in areas where the Standards of the Church (the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms) are silent.

The questions come from individuals like yourself. If you have questions about biblical and theological matters, you are invited to send them by e-mail by using the "Pose a Question" link on the OPC home page or by clicking here.

At least one new question is posted each week, so there should always be something new here for you to read. (For those people who would like to look at previous questions and answers, they will continue to be available as well.)

The purpose of the OPC website's "Questions and Answers" is to respond to biblical and theological questions. Matters of church discipline, disputes, or debates go beyond the scope of our work. We recommend that you present your concerns in these areas to the appropriate judicatory. In most cases this will be to a local pastor, elder, or session. We do not want the website to replace personal involvement in, or commitment to, the local, visible church.

While we will respond to every serious questioner, we are not bound to give a substantive answer to every question, should we deem the question to be beyond the scope of our purpose or our own ability to answer.

You will receive an answer by e-mail. Please be patient as many of our respondents are busy pastors. The response to your question may take up to two (2) weeks. Some of the questions submitted will be chosen to be posted here, along with the corresponding answers.

Note that the "Questions and Answers" posted on the site have been edited—all personal references are removed, Scripture references or from some source may be added, and sometimes portions are expanded—to make the questions and answers more useful to a larger audience.

© 2020 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church



Chaplains and Military Personnel

Diaconal Ministries


Inter-Church Relations

Ministerial Care

Planned Giving

Short-Term Missions


Church Directory

Daily Devotional

Audio Sermons

Trinity Hymnal

Camps & Conferences

Gospel Tracts

Book Reviews



Presbyterian Guardian