Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God. Voddie Baucham Jr. Wheaton: Crossway, 2007.
This is one of those books that comes along every so often and causes quite a stir throughout the church, not only by its content but also by its implications. To some it sounds so radical, so out of the box, even shocking. In the final analysis though, it is very biblical. The shock value and the wake up call this book represents only goes to show how far we may have moved from a simple and precious biblical standard.
So what’s so shocking? Parents are called by God to be the primary disciplers of their children. Now that may not sound so unusual at first glance, but when you begin understanding the ramifications of such a calling, it forces Christian parents to re-evaluate how they parent and churches to re-evaluate how they minister. Now the wide-eyed faces appear!
Voddie Baucham, through personal experience and application of key biblical texts, outlines in this book how taking on the role of primary discipler for his children transformed his life, started the making of a new church model, and calls on all Christian parents and churches to seriously consider how the Bible prescribes raising our children.
In terms of strengths, this reader thoroughly appreciates Baucham’s contribution and would highlight at least three. First, Baucham encourages parents to not only embrace the Bible’s call to be the primary discipler of their children but he provides anecdotal illustrations to enable parents to catch the vision and begin the journey. Second, Baucham stresses how the church has, even with good intentions, structured itself to allow parents to set aside their role and rely solely on the church. This is not God’s will for the home. As parents teach and discipline their children, the church is meant to reinforce and support. Third, since this reviewer was only familiar with the content apart from reading, Baucham’s approach was far more inviting, charitable, and balanced than previously suspected. Granted, if one disagrees with Baucham’s conclusions, he will be tasked heavily to prove his own point because it is clear that Baucham has carefully thought through any objections. However, the tone is not dogmatic but rather graciously challenging.
No doubt the impact of this book surfaces when you finish reading. Parents will need to think through with much prayer and confidence in Scripture how to discipline, how to educate, and how to disciple their children. This may call for a radical change in priority, scheduling, and perspective. Churches, particularly leadership, will need to think through prayerfully and biblically how it is structured so that corporately and within each ministry the church is supporting and encouraging families. Some adjustments may be minor – some may be massive!
In terms of weakness, there is only one that stands out. Baucham’s resulting metaphor for the church is that it is to be a “family of families.” While that rightly emphasizes some glaring corrections the church needs to make, it doesn’t fully satisfy the NT presentation. It seems that the NT church is rather a brand new family, one composed of families for sure, but one also composed of singles, believing children without believing parents, and believing spouses married to unbelievers. No doubt Baucham and his church has a strategic way to incorporate these into the church, but the metaphor indicates these believers are somehow not “completely” in the church because they are not members of a believing family within the larger believing family of the church. However, to be entirely fair, Baucham acknowledges in his preface that this metaphor was intended to be a statement on the structure of the church, not the nature (p.7). So in essence, this weakness vanishes with this clarification. In the same way, however, the church model, family-integrated church, may unintentionally place an unnecessary burden upon those members who do not fit because they do not come to church as part of a complete believing family unit. The fully family-integrated model could cause frustration for singles, single parents, divorcees, and children who are the only believer in the home. That’s not to say these hurdles cannot be overcome through intentional design by the family-integrated church. It is only to say not every believer belongs to a believing family unit. So the question becomes how do these genuine believers, genuine members of Christ’s body, fit and feel welcomed into the family-integrated church model. How do you meet them at the “front door” without them turning away from first impressions? Is there some elbow room for these considerations in the FI model? Have these considerations already been acknowledged and alleviated in the FI model?
That being said, the model should not discourage parents and churches from fully examining this book’s helpful, biblical corrections and encouragements. Having grown up in the traditional model of church ministry and having in recent years discovered the joys and trials of educating, biblically disciplining, and intentionally discipling my own children, this one is a must read for every parent and church leader.
Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor