Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: Family Driven Faith

There's a good chance I'm developing a man-crush on Voddie Baucham. I can't beleive I'm saying that, but ... I am. I have been struggling to define a feeling in my soul for (literally) about three years now. I've explored the world of Emerging Church in large part as a result of my soul's questions. I spent close to two years as a Children's Pastor doing a lot of philosophy of ministry thinking. Recently I've been reading in the "Family Ministry" movement. I have all of these to thank for guiding my thinking toward a particular philosophy of ministry. I have Voddie to thank for really beginning to codify my thinking...

There is a growing sense in this country that we've been doing something altogether wrong in the realm of youth ministry. Ask just about any Youth Pastor and they'll tell you the same thing: we do pretty good with teens when they're here, but once they graduate, the majority of them crash and burn spiritually. Countless volumes have been written to address this concern, with theories ranging from the need for more money to the need for more parental involvement to the need for more culturally post-modern methods, etc...

None of these are bad ideas, but they're missing the point.

It has seemed to me for some time that we've completely abandoned our priorities. Within the life of the local church, parents have almost universally given over their fundamental responsibility to others. Harsh words, I know. But what exactly is this fundamental responsibility? I'm persuaded that it's this simple: lead our children to Jesus and teach them to follow Him. So to whom have we relinquished this responsibility? To the local church: its pastors, its youth programs, its Sunday School teachers, etc... It seems very clear that the majority of American Christians now believe "the church" is the primary spiritual agent in the life of their children.

This must not be so.

We - parents, not the church - have a God-given responsibility to train up our children in the understanding of the LORD (Proverbs 22:6). We are commanded to teach our children the truth of God in every situation of life (Deuteronomy 6:7). We are required to exhort them, encourage them, and insist that they live in a way worthy of God (1 Thessalonians 2:11,12). We cannot shrug off this responsibility to "the professionals".

Voddie makes this point with all the wit, clarity, and grace that I'll never have. He calls us to the truly hard, but truly rewarding, work of discipling our kids. He then explains how the local church he's a part of has structured itself to best help (not do it for them) parents in this highest of callings.

This book is a slow read ... I found I could only read and digest it in small pieces. So challenging; so much food for thought. But it's a must read! For my part, I'm challenging myself to do better by my family, and to help my church do better by theirs.


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