Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship—Part 3 of 3

(This is part 3 of Spurgeon and Home-Discipleship. Click here for part one. For part two click here.)

As a pastor Spurgeon would often reference the biblical role of family worship in the home. Preaching from Acts 16:14 on September 20, 1891, Spurgeon addressed “Lydia, the First European Convert,” by saying,

If the gospel does not influence our homes, it is little likely to make headway amongst the community. God has made family piety to be, as it were, a sort of trade-mark on religion in Europe; for the very first convert brings with her all her family…You shall notice in Europe, though I do not mean to say that it is not the same anywhere else, that true godliness has always flourished in proportion as family religion has been observed.[1]

He believed that godliness advanced in a community, whether it is a church or nation, in proportion to the godliness practiced in the homes. Worship practiced, or religion as the term was used in his day, had as much if not more credibility in the home than in the church. The practice of family worship was an expectation on a godly family.

Later in his sermon on Acts 16:14, Spurgeon went on to say,

‘But there is no priest.’ Then there ought to be. Every man should be a priest in his own household; and, in the absence of a godly father, the mother should lead the devotions. Every house should be the house of God, and there should be a church in every house; and when this is the case, it will be the greatest barrier against priestcraft, and the idolatry of holy places. Family prayer and the pulpit are the bulwarks of Protestantism. Depend upon it, when family piety goes down, the life of godliness will become very low. In Europe, at any rate, seeing that the Christian faith began with a converted household, we ought to seek after the conversion of all our families, and to maintain within our houses the good and holy practice of family worship. [2]

This is a radical statement for the 21st Century. Protestantism was still very much a movement in the 19th Century, as it should be today. Spurgeon believed the two greatest positions that influence this movement were the pulpit and the home. According to him, Christianity and the entire continent of Europe depended on whether Christian fathers and mothers would lead their homes in family worship. If the idea of family worship lacking was crucial in Europe 150 years ago, imagine the state of our country today where the practice has been nearly extinct.

In The Kind of Revival We Need, Spurgeon wrote on what he called “Domestic Religion.” Here he called for a revival among the Christian families:

We deeply want a revival of domestic religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans, but in these evil times hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children?

Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves ‘holiness unto the Lord’; so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.[3]

There was such a neglect of the practice that Spurgeon calls these families “so-called” Christians. It is clear to see here his understanding of family worship was to teach the gospel. He did not have a mere formal routine or activity in mind. He had the daily instruction in the gospel of a Christian father and mother to the rest of the family. And this quality was missing.

Again Spurgeon reiterated his expectation of Christians to lead their families in worship by almost questioning the sincerity of the faith if they neglect this duty.

I trust there are none here present, who profess to be followers of Christ who do not also practice prayer in their families. We may have no positive commandment for it, but we believe that it is so much in accord with the genius and spirit of the gospel, and that it is so commended by the example of the saints, that the neglect thereof is a strange inconsistency.[4]

It is implied through Scripture, since worship was required regularly, and yet the weekly custom of corporate worship did not happen until after the Babylonian Exile, late into Old Testament history.

Spurgeon feared that if the home did not teach the gospel as required, families and the church would fail in evangelizing the children.

God’s requirements for child evangelism are clear: fathers are commanded to diligently teach their children and care for their souls day by day. The sad reality of father’s lives in modern churches is that they are satisfied with Sunday schools and evangelistic crusades (which are never mentioned or commanded in scripture), but they reject God’s direct and undeniable commands to personally teach their children daily. This is outright rebellion against the Lord.[5]

Father’s are charged to care for their souls day by day, as a pastor to his church. Spurgeon recognized that Sunday schools and evangelism crusades were not mentioned in Scripture, but the duty of Christian parents is in the Bible. To neglect this duty is “outright rebellion.”

The world needs revival in this day. The Church desperately needs revival today. Families must return to the duty of family worship, in its biblical and historical sense, if this generation shall ever see revival.

[1] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Lydia, The First European Convert. September 20, 1891. http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2222.htm (accessed January 18, 2009).

[2] Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit: Lydia, The First European Convert.

[3] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. The Kind of Revival We Need. http://www.spurgeon.org/revival.htm (accessed January 18, 2009).

[4] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. “Restraining Prayer,”Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 54. London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1908; reprint, Pasedena, TX.: Pilgrim Publications, 1978, 362,362.

[5] Ibid.