The Worship Project

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The Australian Union Conference (AUC) recently released The Worship Project. The Record Live team, editor Jarrod Stackelroth (JS) and Signs of the Times assistant editor Zanita Fletcher (ZF) had a chat with Sylvia Mendez, AUC director of Women and Family Ministries, to find out more. 

Our conferences around Australia and the General Conference have also said we have a problem with family worship. Numbers are in decline—on average 25 per cent of Adventists say they don’t do family worship at all. So, the conferences came to the AUC and asked us to try and encourage more families into having worship time. We’ve got three years of funding to create awareness. 

The “why” of the worship project is simply responding to God’s invitation to come. Scripture talks about God inviting us to come and spend time with Him. 

The “what” is developing a daily rhythm of time with God. That’s what the project is about.  We want people to have a daily rhythm of connecting with God.

And the “how” is three words—curate, create and educate.

We’re going to curate the good stuff because there’s already a bunch of amazing resources that can encourage and facilitate worship. When we identify gaps, we can build some resources, so we’ll create. And educate is two-pronged—we want to have conversations about why we worship but also how we worship. Why do we do it? How often should we do it? How long?

This is something I’m passionate about because I didn’t grow up as a Christian. So, when I became an Adventist as an adult with little children and people would ask, Are you doing family worship? I would be like, “I don’t know what family worship is.”

This project will equip and empower parents who have never done worship to just make a start.

If I was to define worship, I would go to Romans 12:1,2—I’m not the biggest advocate of the Message version but in this instance, it really captures, I believe, one of the best pictures of worship. 

It says—and now I’m about to paraphrase it into a Sylvia Mendez version—“Take your ordinary everyday life. You’re getting up, going to work, sitting at the table, going to bed”, that just everyday moment, right? “And place it before God as an offering.” So when I think about worship, it’s from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed; I’m in this connection with God. So that’s my simple answer. If I was to put on my theological hat, I’d have a much bigger answer with a lot of biblical examples of worship and ultimately what we would take from that is worship is a response.

Worship is: We, the redeemed, responding to the Redeemer and that response looks different for each of us because of what we might be going through. It can be a response of joy and celebration. It can be tears and lament because we’re in a season of grief but both can be actual worship.

When I think about family worship, it’s about intentionality—bringing the family together to have a discussion about God. There can be some very traditional thoughts around a specific time or length or pattern. But if we go back to “worship is a response”, it can look different in different seasons, depending on the age of our children. At its core, it is an intentionality to have conversations with our family about God and to invite Him into our space, and teaching our children to make God a part of their everyday, ordinary life. 

Historically, when you look at a lot of the resources that were produced for family worship, there was often this assumption that one of the parents is at home full-time. So they’ve got plenty of time to get craft materials and all the things that are needed to produce this production.

But family worship can be as simple as: Let’s read a couple of Bible verses together and talk about what they mean. And whenever you’re reading and talking about the Bible the question is: so what does this mean today? There must be a so what? What is the practical application?

Family worship can happen as you’re driving in the car to school with the kids. Whether it be through singing a worship song, having a prayer before the kids get out. One of the things we need to remember is, if we’re going to take the view that worship is part of our everyday, ordinary, sleeping, eating, going to work, walking around life, worship can happen anywhere.

If I’m walking home from school with my kids, what’s to stop me from saying, “Look at this beautiful flower. Isn’t God amazing?” And having a conversation . . . isn’t that a moment of worship?  When you are directing your children’s thoughts to God and what He’s done.

It’s about utilising the moments we have throughout the day to point to God. And when we sit together at the table it doesn’t have to be a production. It can simply be, “How did you see God working today?”  

I think there is a place for both. There’s the organic worship, a one-minute conversation, which might end up blowing out.

The structure is where I tap into the idea of rhythm because rhythm is regular right? If our heartbeat isn’t a regular rhythm, we’re in trouble. So there is a place for that rhythm.

 What there isn’t a place for is shame when parents can’t quite get the rhythm right. We have to work with families where they’re at. We invite them into small steps. If all you can manage as a family is a prayer after dinner or before dinner or before bedtime, start there. Start there but make it regular—do it every night. And then as you do it every night—maybe you’ve only started by devoting three or four minutes—see if you can push it out. Maybe you can read a Bible verse or two together and pray. So I think there is a need for having a rhythm, something that is regular—finding what works for your family rather than you must do it at this time and in this style. If you all sit down at the dinner table together, then use that time to, have devoted, intentional God talk, not just the incidental “we thank God for the food”. But finish dinner and then read a couple of Bible verses or put on a worship song and actually talk about what that song is communicating about God.

You know your family rhythms. If mum and dad are racing off to work in the morning and there’s stress and chaos then maybe all you can manage is that prayer in the car, but if you’re all sitting down for dinner then that’s the perfect time to actually have a deeper conversation about how God is present and real and teaching our children the deeper truths of who God is.

Family worship looks different in every home. 

This is the age and the stage we’re at and so we choose the appropriate method that will connect with our kids, but what it comes down to is that intentionality. It’s regularity and routine and rhythm.

When I started coming to church my kids were five and three and so it was all about stories. Every night we would just read a story before bed and then I would go in their rooms, and I would pray with one and pray with the other and I would ask them to think about “what are you thankful for today that God might have done?” They knew we would read a story together and then pray together and it was something they looked forward to.  

As they got older, they didn’t necessarily want the stories anymore. They wanted to ask questions—so we had a season of asking questions. Let’s be honest, when they’re teenagers sometimes the questions you don’t know how to answer. You’re just like “whoa, let’s research together, let’s find an answer because I don’t know” and even that in itself is a time of worship because you’re going on a discovery journey together. 

We just need to remember not to shame parents because one family’s worship doesn’t look like another family’s worship. We all must meet God where we’re at and encourage one another to be intentional about making time, whatever it looks like.   

The first quick tip is, if you’re doing absolutely nothing, why not make a commitment to just two minutes, every day, even if it’s just before you go to bed? 

If you don’t have children at home, that doesn’t mean you can’t have household worship. I still think two minutes is better than zero minutes. And just pray, talk to God and say to God, “Help me be more regular in spending time with You.”

If you’re just struggling and feeling like you don’t know what to do, some of that comes from this pressure that it’s supposed to look a certain way, and I would say remove some of that pressure and focus on what you can do. Choose to do something simple and buy a devotional book if need be. There are some amazing resources. Start simple is what I would suggest.

The simple tagline is anywhere, anytime, anyone. It is for everyone. We didn’t call it the family worship project. We called it The Worship Project because we recognise that every one of us needs to have a daily rhythm with God. 

To watch or listen to the full interview, visit Adventist Record’s YouTube channel or search for the Record Live Podcast. For more about The Worship Project, visit

Jarrod Stackelroth is the editor of Adventist Record.

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