Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Family Driven Faith, Review

Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God, Voddie T. Baucham, Jr.
(Crossway, 2007), hb., 222 pp.

I finished reading this book this weekend and really enjoyed it. My primary overall reaction was, “This book more than any other I have read expresses what my wife and I aspire to for our family.” This book can be of a lot of help to a lot of people.

If you have heard Voddie any time in the last few years you have probably heard some of the material in this book. It is great now to have all of this (and more) in book form. He stresses the role of parents in discipling their own children, the importance of the husband-wife relationship for the children, and the value of children (in contrast to our culture). With these themes he stresses the importance of family worship and the importance of fathers taking the role in teaching their children about God. He powerfully contrasts this with typical priorities among fathers. He encourages having and raising children without being legalistic about how many and how soon we should have them. He talks about how churches fail to help by sustaining the idea that parents need not disciple their own children. There is much of value here and our people (particularly fathers) will gain much in reading this book.

My wife and I came to some of these same conclusions during our time in Scotland. As we prepared to return to a more hectic pace of life in the US we discussed how to maintain what had become important to us. We called it being “family-centered.” Our family, not job or ministry or activities, would be the center of life for us. We wanted our home culture to be the primary culture for our children. By making our home strong and healthy we would be enabled to reach out effectively. But keeping the home central would mean saying no to any number of good things. We continue to struggle to do this well, and this book was a renewed encouragement to me. I found myself being more diligent to look for ways to demonstrate love to my wife, and I was rejuvenated in our efforts in family worship.

Two areas will probably be points of debate concerning this book: schooling and church structure. Voddie is very positive about homeschooling (as am I) but he clearly states that he is not saying this is what all Christians must do. I was glad to see that. Secondly, he advocates having no nursery or any children’s classes at church. This is what is done at his home church in Texas. I, too, am not satisfied with the typical overly segregated church settings. Therefore I appreciate the sentiment. However, I still see a place for a nursery and for children’s classes. At our church we have Sunday School classes for children through age 11. At age 12 a child goes into the adult class with his parents where we cycle through a four year cycle covering systematic theology, church history, bible overview, and the practical outworkings of the faith. Thus Sunday School provides another format for parents to disciple their teenagers as they discus what is going on in class throughout the week. Younger children have their own classes intended to aid parents in their discipleship. Also we have a nursery during corporate worship. We encourage parents to bring their children into the service at 4-5 years of age.
Voddie is careful not to demand churches follow his model exactly but calls for us to consider ways to encourage families in their roles. I wholeheartedly affirm that goal, though we differ in how we go about it.

I hope many people will read this book.


Anonymous said...

I have read Voddie's blog posts concerning his view of youth ministry. At the time I was serving as an interim youth minister (which I just finished) so it was certainly a topic of interest for me. I found his arguments quite compelling considering the state of the current youth group model. Though many see his view on youth ministry as controversial, I love the emphasis on family which is missing in a lot of churches. So am I right in assuming that Cornerstone doesn't have a youth ministry?

Ray Van Neste said...

You are right we do not have a youth ministry.

Anonymous said...

At the beginning, did you all find that to be a difficult decision given the assumed status of the youth group in church life today?

Unknown said...

I understand where he is coming from on this.It seems like churches have become more and more balkanized over the years. You have not only youth ministries but also ministries to singles, couples, older people, parents, young marrieds, marrieds with children, mothers of pre-schoolers the list is endless. The implication is that we each have such special needs that we cannot possibly have anyting to contribute to one another's lives unless we are in that situation ourselves. So why is is assumed that those without children don't know anything about parenting,and those who are single cannot contribute to a conversation with married couples(Paul?). At some point a family has to function as a family.

One of the problems that I've seen over the years with youth ministry is that we create a subculture within the church that looks very differnt from the rest of the congregation. Then as soon as these kids turn 20, we throw them into an unfamiliar environmentand expect them to conform to new cultural norms that they hav had little or no say so in how it is created. It's just crazy.

Ray Van Neste said...

Well put, Joel.
Jeff, we did not have trouble really. Now, we were not in a typical situation either. Our church had gone through a 'winnowing' and were down to our core group, a group of people who were in earnest to see what the Bible says and how we could best live that out in our situation. So we worked through several things in Sunday school with all the adults together and these discussions shaped what we do- including not only youth ministry, but many other areas like weekly communion, havign several lengthy scripture readings every time in corporate worship, etc.

Unknown said...

I'm a youth pastor but I am very open to Voddie's thoughts. I have been listening to some of his sermons and he seems to know his stuff. I just started his book and ran into one problem. On page 7 he says that "Discipleship and multi-generational faithfulness begins and ends at home." I'm okay with the idea of it beginning at home, but I have a hard time with it ending at home. I believe that whether parents like it or not, they are the primary influence and means of discipleship in their kids lives, and need to take responsibility for that fact. But my question is; What is wrong with discipleship extending beyond the home? I need to finish the book and perhaps he will clarify his point. But at a casual glance I believe we see discipleship happening outside the home. Paul and Timothy, Jesus and the Disciples, The command to 'Go and make disciples'.
I would be interested in hearing other takes on this.

Ray Van Neste said...

Hey Mark,
Thanks for stopping by. I don't have the book with me and it has been a bit since I read it so I cna't remember if he does clarify that statement.
I woudl heartily agree that discipleship occurs outside the family. It is a wonderful thign when others contribute to my children. I am deeply grateful for those who sahre with them in Sunday School and our children's clases, for others who encourage and help them.