Baucham offers a fine book on family, faith
Family Driven Faith: Doing What it Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God by Voddie Baucham. (Crossway 2007, 222 pages) $20 retail / $13 Amazon.
Thanks to statistical research produced by LifeWay, Southern Baptists are waking up to the reality that we are not passing down the Christian faith to our children and grandchildren. Almost 90% of teens who profess Christ in an evangelical church will walk away from Christianity by the end of their freshman year of college. If you combine a 75% departure-from-Christianity rate together with a two-children-per-family birth rate, a first generation membership of 4,000,000 shrinks down to only 62,500 by the fourth generation.
What happened to multigenerational kingdom growth? Why are the rates of mutigenerational faithfulness so dismal in our churches? Do we need to bolster and retool the existing child and teen discipleship programs, or is this more of a systemic problem that calls for a complete overhaul?
Voddie Baucham argues for the latter in this exciting new book. And when I say “argue”, what I mean is that he persuades, pleads and preaches this message with the passion of a prophet. You will either love or despise his message, but you will not walk away apathetic to his concerns and solutions. I can only hit a few of the highlights here, but I urge you to pick up a copy and prepare to be challenged and changed.
Taking Deuteronomy 6 as the foundation of Family Driven Faith, Baucham sees modern church structures and programs as detrimental to family-based Christian discipleship. The church creates programs and hires vocational ministers to do the work of discipleship that is actually the responsibility of parents. As a result, parents are encouraged to rely on the church to disciple their children.
Instead of taking the place of parents, churches must equip and encourage parents to fulfill their God-give responsibility of family worship and family discipleship. Baucham says, “I cannot tell you exactly when we began to worship on a daily basis, but I can tell you that it changed us forever. I distinctly remember watching my son run around gathering up Bibles one day, as he anxiously anticipated our family worship, and I said to myself, How could we have missed this? Now we feel like something is missing (and it is) when we don’t gather together to worship the Lord.”
Part of family discipleship is catechizing (systematic teaching through questions and answers) our children. Baucham says, “The goal of catechism is to impart biblical theology. Through a series of questions and answers the child slowly learns what to believe and, more importantly, why. Catechism is not a magic bean or a silver bullet. We still have to work at teaching our children. However, the catechism is an invaluable tool that facilitates the process.”
Baucham challenges parents fearful of taking on this responsibility – “If you can read, you can teach your children God’s Word. All you have to do is stay a step ahead of them. …Besides, God would not have given you the responsibility unless He knew you could handle it.”
In addition to Bible teaching and family worship, Baucham says that the very culture of our families must be reformed – “Our homes must be rife with the aroma of love. Those who visit us should notice immediately that they have left the world of self-serving, egocentric narcissism and have entered a safe harbor where people value and esteem others above themselves.”
Multigenerational faithfulness comes at the cost of parents actually living out what the believe. Baucham says, “We cannot expect our children to rise above our example. …We can try to teach them to do as we say, not as we do, but our words can only go so far when they are contradicted by our actions.”
Baucham critiques numerous modern American innovations – dating, youth groups, age-segregated ministry, anti-natalism – that far too many Christian parents and pastors have uncritically embraced. I suppose I found so much joy in his discussion of these topics on account of the fact that I share his convictions. I hope that as you think through his analysis of these concerns, perhaps thinking critically about them for the first time, that you will consider how biblical his reasoning is.
Baucham wants to be an instrument of revival in the American church – a revival that begins in the home as fathers and mothers have their hearts turned toward their own children and the future generations to come. He says, “If I teach my son to keep his eye on the ball but fail to teach him to keep his eyes on Christ, I have failed as a father. We must refuse to allow trivial, temporal pursuits to interfere with the main thing. Making the team is a tremendous achievement; however, it must be put in its proper perspective. No sports endeavor will ever be as important as becoming a man or woman of God.” (Scott Lamb is one of the founding pastors of Providence Baptist Church, St. Louis, and is a regular book reviewer for The Pathway. To respond to this review or to read about other books, visit www.AChristianManifesto.com.)