Opinion: See the Importance of Family Altar in Israelite History

The opening ceremony of the Tribal Family Gathering held in Chiangmai, on May 2, 2017.
The opening ceremony of the Tribal Family Gathering held in Chiangmai, on May 2, 2017. (photo: Photo Provided to CCD)
By Steve Sun August 24th, 2022

“Instead of being confined to the church, Christian faith and life should be strengthened and extended through family worship.”

Recently, the Christian Times, an online Chinese Christian Newspaper, interviewed a pastor (called H for short), who said some unhealthy phenomena in many churches were related to the failure of inheritance of faith in the family. He urged local Christian families to stick to the tradition of family worship.

From the history of Israelites, Pastor H talked about the importance of the family altar, through which they preserved ethnic culture and faith traditions. For nearly 2000 years, they were displaced around the world after their homes were destroyed. Thanks to a strong family education system, they came back to rebuild their country speaking the same language 2000 years later.

He gave examples from the Old and New Testaments. “Noah was the first person recorded in the book of Genesis who after the blood built an altar on which he took some of all the clean animals and clean birds and sacrificed these burnt offerings. It was clear to the Israelites which were the clean things and which were the unclean ones. For the ancient Chinese, they chose the fattest and best sacrifice to offer to God. In the New Testament times, Jesus is being the sacrifice as he died for our sins to make us holy through His blood once and for all.”

“We can see that the sacrifice by the priest in the temple was converted to the new covenant between the individual and God which was a living sacrifice,” he continued.

“The old generation, suffering the persecution during the Cultural Revolution, became the backbone of the church after experiencing the spiritual growth in the family gatherings, which sometimes several families attended. They were willing to suffer and pay the price for the church which reopened after the Cultural Revolution.”

“On the contrary, we, the younger believers, often choose an easier and more convenient way to worship God as we suffer less in our ministry. When we choose the staff members, we care about whether they are enthusiastic rather than whether they are spiritually mature.”

H revealed a phenomenon that the leadership of elders or deacons who do not meet the requirement of the position affected the quality of pastoral care.

He emphasized, “One important reason for the circumstance of the church is that believers or their children don’t worship God at their homes.”

“Christians used to think that it would be a lasting blessing to their children that they were left in the Sunday school for one or two hours once a week, but that is not going to happen.”

When talking about how to build a family altar, he added, “In the evening or at noon, whole family members sit down to worship God at a fixed time for ten or fifteen minutes in a clean and quiet room. We also can learn the word of God with prayers and gratitude to Him in bed if there is a baby in the family, as God places value on our willingness to have intimacy with Him. During the worship, members can’t make noise.”

“We encourage the father to lead the gathering, but the mother can also be the leader if the father hasn’t believed or it is a single-parent family.”

Sharing his own testimony, Pastor H said, “I myself benefited from the family services. Due to unforeseen circumstances around age 10, my parents often brought me and my sister together to sing a hymn and take turns reading scriptures with intercessions.”

“The family altar is a vessel made by God to teach the children to trust and serve Jesus from an early age. As a command of Him, the building of a family altar is vital to the development of the church. We should serve God starting from worshipping in the family by gathering members to read God’s word, witness His grace, and praise Him.”

“The covenant was made by God with the family, so each Christian has the responsibility to conduct family service to pass on the faith from generation to generation. We should bear the cross to pass down the faith which is essential in this day and age,” he concluded.

- Translated by Abigail Wu

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