Family Altar Board — Catechism, church year, lectionary text, & hymns, on a simple whiteboard

Dr. Ryan C. MacPherson, Ph.D. kindly gives his permission to provide readers here with an excerpt from his wife Marie’s article about a brilliant idea, The Family Altar Board.

This idea is simple and rich, both at the same time.

He and Marie hang a 2’ x 3’ white board above their piano. Using permanent marker, they divide the areas of the board into boxes with labels:

In the Divine Service portion, upper left:

  • Season [of the Church year]
  • Sunday [of the Church year]
  • Gospel

In the Church Calendar portion, upper right:

  • circular diagram of the church year

In the Christian Virtues portion, lower left

  • Character Trait
  • Rule of this House

In the Home Devotions portion, bottom right:

  • Hymnody
  • History
  • Catechism

Then each week, they write with dry erase marker the proper information for that week, such as Advent 3. From the “How do we use it?” section of the article:

It’s a very simple idea which has grown into a powerful family tradition.

Each Sunday after church, our family sits down to summarize and discuss our church service and our plans for spiritual discipleship for the week.

With a very simple order of service, Ryan leads the family in discussing our church service and where we are in the church year. We also have the children recite their memory work and preview what they will be memorizing the next week. It’s a time of reminders about our family rules and Biblical virtue traits (compiled by Marilyn Boyer). Finally, we preview our home devotion Bible readings and the hymn for the week.

In little more than a glance at the photograph of the board published in the article, you can see how simple and yet rich a device this is.

After answering the questions, “What is it? “ and ”How do we use it?,” Dr. MacPherson answers the question, “How has it blessed our family?” And the blessings are great. Go to the article to see the answer and the photo.

Also visit Dr. MacPherson’s page that gives information about his extensive works.


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