Book Review: Family Driven Faith

Family Driven Faith:

Doing what it takes to raise sons and daughters who walk with God. 

By Voddie Baucham, Jr.

 

I was asked to do this review by a friend who believes this is the new wave of churches and an upcoming revolution in ministry.   I obliged and checked this book out of a local library because it was quicker than sending away for the volume.  While there are several powerful statements in this book that lend me to agree with some of his premises, I am not sure his conclusions hit the nail on the head.  I made it a point to take notes on this book and even research his footnotes to read what he read in making his conclusions.

 

Premise: That 70-88 percent of teens who profess Christianity walk away from their faith before their freshman year of college.

–       I checked the research cited and the actual claim was that 70 percent of students who attended church for at least one year during high school do not attend church for a year between ages of 18-22.

–       The study cited also states that 20% of the original group never wanted to go to church in the first place.

–       The study cited church attendance, and not necessarily youth group attendance (an important distinction that Baucham fails to make).

–       Baucham also ignores the fact that 75% of the same surveyed crowd returned by the age of 23.

–       Doing the math, that means the 20 percent dragged to church never came back, but those who attended and wanted to, came back after, on average, 2 years. 

–       The study did not take account for any college ministry involvement, but only attending a church.

–       Church attendance ≠ Christian, yet Baucham seems to hang his hat on this as proof positive that churches have failed.

 

A concern I had throughout the book was that whenever his facts were weak, he turned to sarcasm or cynicism to make his point.  Pg 133 was one strong occurence of this, there were several others.

 

Baucham makes several good points including:

–       Parents prioritize their children’s lives for them.  That the practices and time management at home reflect bigger values and truer values than verbalized ones.  (18)

–       Love is an act of will (57)

  • His premise here is great, his indictment against all current marriages seem unfair.

–       Teach the bible at home and set bible/family worship time as priorities (89)

–       Youth Pastors are ill equipped to be the sole spiritual caregivers for the kids in their youth group (90).

  • Yes, 3/168 hours a week is not enough to do this.  Youth Pastors would be more inclined to agree now about this point, we encourage family involvement.  Families and churches need to be corrected in the amount they expect the YP to mold their teens lives, without family, youth pastors work is difficult at best.

–       Wife and Mother are Honorable callings. (161).

–       He mentions birthrates as a huge aspect as to why churches are failing.  I’d tend to agree, even better, Rodney Stark wrote “Rise of Christianity” and showed that birthrates were a leading factor in the rise of Christianity in the early church.  Self imposed 2 kid per household does harm Christianity from spreading.  (201).

 

Points of Contention

–       Deut 6.

  • He uses Deut 6 as the basis of his book.  He states that multigenerational family based ministry is the ONLY way to go.  He seems to guarantee that if parents follow this model then kids won’t desert the church.
  • However, there are many Biblical examples of Godly men who “do everything right” yet fail in this aspect.  See: Aaron the High Priest and His Sons. (Lev. 10), David’s son (1ki. 2) , Hezekiah’s kids 2Kings16:20; 2Chr 28:27),  Josiah 2Kings21:24; 2Chr 33:25.
  • The audience of Deuteronomy was the nation of Israel.  The command was part of the blessings portion of the Vassal Treaty of Deuteronomy which the language of children and children’s children reflect more of a generational appeal and exhortation for all to do these actions.

–       Knocks Men who don’t get married until later in life, if at all.  (claims its unbiblical)

  • However, 1 Cor 7 has Paul exhorting single people to remain that way.  Paul claims unmarried people have more to devote to God, married people have to be concerned more with their spouses.

 

Baucham’s Ecclesiology

 

Much of this book is tacitly about Baucham’s Ecclesiology.  He trashes the current ecclesiology of the western church rather thoroughly.  My concern is that he spends so much time trashing the current church, he does not develop his own as much should be seen in someone with so much venom towards the current church.  He seems not to care that the church will only be perfect in Revelations 20-21.

 

Eph 6:1-4 he makes the claim that discipleship is not the church’s job, but it is the parents job.  (177) Here is the text:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise),

SO THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bbring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

–       Jesus is talking to his disciples in Matthew 28

–       Matt. 28:18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

–       Matt. 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of call the nations, dbaptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

–        Matt. 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Disciples are to be made of all nations.  Not just of your children.  Other major examples of discipleship making in the Bible are Mark and Barnabas (Cousins), Paul and Barnabas (strangers), and Timothy and Paul.  None of these are parent to child in relation to the other.

 

Baucham’s strongest point on Ecclesiology is that it is the churches job to equip the saints. (184).

–       Bauchman seems to believe that the saints are parents only and the evangelees and disciples are only meant to be their children.

 

Baucham also claims that students should not be involved in the discipleship or evangelism of other students.  (This is the parents jobs alone).  (185)

 

Both of these seem good, however, Baucham misses the external family piece of evangelism and discipleship.  If family only disciples their own kids and only evangelizes their own kids there is no way others can be saved.  (I reread those chapters several times, to ensure I got this point right… because it baffled me).  Read it again… don’t really see him developing this thesis out further than parents to their children.

 

Baucham and Utopian Societies. 

 

In the mid 1700’s there were many of these societies that believed that by segregating themselves from the world, they can make the world better.  Baucham is very satisfied that 90% of his church are homeschooled and that they focus on family internal evangelism and discipleship only.

 

However Jesus Prayed:

John 17:15 “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.. 

It seems the plan that Baucham and his followers follow runs contrary to Jesus’ wishes. 

 

 

My biggest problem with his book, goes to his research.  He commits several logical fallacies when he only uses one part of a major piece of research to condemn youth ministries.  While he starts with some true and partially true statements, it seems that his ecclesiology is not one based on what the early church or the Gospels dictate. 

 

I’ve checked with friends/faculty at several seminaries. Barna is mostly banned at these institutions because of his gift of creating research that supports his hypothesis and preconceived ideas.  Research design is a major reason that this book was written the way it was.  The formal fallacy of incomplete comparison and moving the goalposts are reasons that it seems that 70-90 percent of teens leave church never to return.  It’s disturbing that crossway even chose to publish this book and has actually damaged their reputation that I would honestly doubt their material if I was asked to read their books again. 

 

Positive Takeaways

1. Parents have a sacred ministry to raise their children up in the way they should go.

Prov. 22:6aTrain up a child 1in the way he should go,

Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

2. Youth Ministers should not be viewed as lone rangers in the discipling of souls.

3. We should look for more intergenerational and family ministry opportunities.

He quotes Mark DeVries, even though Mark DeVries comes to different conclusions.  I also recommend DeVries’ “Family Based Youth Ministry” much more than this volume.  Having read and reviewed both, DeVries does not commit the logical fallacies that Baucham does.

4. Families need more support and accountability to practice their faith in their own homes.

5. I also appreciated his focus on the errors that some churches make hiring a young youth pastor who is then expected to be an “expert” and also get mad at that youth pastor for making rookie mistakes.

6. I appreciate his stance (not sure if its practiced by his followers) that current churches shouldn’t be morphed into this model, but be made more family centric.  He is a proponent of church planting churches after his model.

I’ve attended several youth conferences and have just finished my Master’s of Divinity focusing on both youth and family ministry and pastoral counseling.  Even note that my concentration is not in youth ministry alone but youth and family.  In attending school and these conferences, I realize that the world of youth ministry is already working hard to address these issues.  I know that youth workers are being trained and brought up in this more family centric approach.  This and incarnational ministry are two major aspects of youth ministry that are coming to the forefront.    Rather than be divisive this effort should be more conciliatory and brought to a state where we are all working on the same team.  From what I’ve seen in several ministries and churches this is being used to further divide the home-school movement from the rest of the church world.

14 Responses to Book Review: Family Driven Faith

  1. Brandon says:

    I appreciate that you were able to pull some good and bad together in this post. I share your distaste for sarcasm in the place of strong arguments. Someone left a comment a recent post of mine about Devries, and used sarcasm instead of making a case for the success of youth ministry. I agree that it isn’t helpful.

    [Baucham is very satisfied that 90% of his church are homeschooled and that they focus on family internal evangelism and discipleship only.]

    Did Baucham say that they focus on family internal evangelism and discipleship only? I know that their congregation is intentional about each member inviting their neighbors over to share a meal at least once a month.

    Thanks for the review.

    • mattmurphy79 says:

      Page 199 is where I got that quote from. I also read through those chapters several times, never picked up the family meal as an outreach tool in the book. Unfortunately, I missed it, or it’s not in there.

      Having neighbors over for a meal is a good tactic of friendship evangelism. I’m not trying to smear the guy or group, just challenging the book back as it challenges me.

  2. Chris MacDowell says:

    I got the book out of the library again while I’m waiting to purchase it and a few more. I think my copy is a newer edition because it has a two page preface that seem to throw off all your page references by two pages. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure what you were referencing on pg 133 (or 135). You mention the term logical fallacy a number of times, based on him using one statistic (that has gone viral). I’m never one for statistics anyway, but I don’t think he hangs his whole argument on that. He does use it, but stands strongly on Scripture when it comes to his base position.

    You mention some OT examples of fathers who had done everything right and had sons who failed, but there is nothing in Scripture to prove that these men who were great heroes were also great fathers. In fact in 1Kings 1:6 David is noted as failing to rebuke his son. Being a strong christian does not make you a good father automatically. And so to imply that these men had failed after discipling their sons is to make a faulty assumption and try to lessen the significance of the biblical commands that Baucham is reminding us of.

    I have never attended his church (or one like it), but I’m afraid you are making unfair assumptions when he doesn’t mention outside evangelism or discipleship. The focus of the book is about the parents responsibility to their children. It’s outside the scope of this book to go into other areas. Because he doesn’t talk much about it here, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have answers to your questions. He gives good reasons why it’s the parents responsibilities and the not churches to educate his children. He does allow for other people to help, advise if they have had the experience of raising teenager themselves (p175or177) but he will not allow someone else (ie. youthpastor) to do his job.[also..the idea of experience is biblical…when speaking of the qualifications of leadership in the NT church, family men with their houses in order was a major point. and just because discleship can come in many forms, that is not a reason to say christian parents are somehow not responsible to disciple their children. They absolutely are and that is the point of his book. Are there other scenarios that require different tacts…yes…but christian parents should be discipling their children, and most churches attempt to the job for them to the detriment of the parents and their children.]

    –In the mid 1700’s there were many of these societies that believed that by segregating themselves from the world, they can make the world better. Baucham is very satisfied that 90% of his church are homeschooled and that they focus on family internal evangelism and discipleship only. (? Only?-I don’t see how you came to that conclusion)

    However Jesus Prayed:

    John 17:15 “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one..

    It seems the plan that Baucham and his followers follow runs contrary to Jesus’ wishes. (Is homeschooling the same as taking children out of the world? This is not an amish community where we have little to no meaningful contact with the outside world–it is taking on the full task of teaching them {to avoid the pagan indoctrination of public schools} and discipling them so they are able to stand strong in an ungodly world..if I follow your logic, I should also let my kids remain in the world by going to parties where there will be drinking and drugs. And we should all go to bars and strip clubs because that’s the world is and we need to find and reach them. Not trying to be sarcastic…but whoever spends the most time with children is more than likely going to have the most influence. A parent who sends their child to school for academic and church for spiritual education is not going to have the same influence in their child’s life as the homeschooler. In fact they might have even less as the child will look to the “professionals” for “real” answers. I’m going off on a rant here. Sorry..I just think we have become a society of institutions and professionalization of everything and individuals don’t think they are qualified to do anything if they don’t have a degree)

    You mention you had positive take-aways and I’m glad, I think most people would be hard pressed to argue from the Bible that parents aren’t the most responsible for the spiritual discleship of their children. Yet while everyone says it…too few churches equip their saints to do it. They offer plenty of alternatives though. He realizes most churches won’t change and that’s why he is a proponent of church plants. Churches have split over the type of worship music played, so to tell people how to raise their children…churches might get burnt to the ground. I realize that it is probably too much to ask to have churches drop all their children’s programs and youth ministries and start all over again. There are a lot of complicating factors. However, I stay at a church I love(though I don’t agree with everything), because I hope to be an encouragement to other families that what we’re doing is possible and it’s a tremendous blessing and to try to encourage or start some family training ministry to help parents learn how to raise and disciple their children themselves, the way God calls them to.

    • mattmurphy79 says:

      Every time i try to reply to you this gets deleted. This might be briefer and more curt, i apologize. my book is 2007

      as for the stats, i got the original report online and read it. And yes, people do buy into bad stats all the time. The stats I gave were also in that report and were ignored in his book. Plus he gives no stats to bolster the side of his argument that homeschool and family church should be the new pedagogy and we should all revere it as if God just placed it on the earth himself in a new book of the bible. As for bible verses, he only really uses Deut 6:4, in which he is more likely talking to the NATION of Isreal and their descendants!! context is king and it is apparent that he is talking to generations of people and the nation of isreal as a whole. He falls for the Deutero- nomy fallacy also… it is not a second giving of the law of mt sinia (exodus) but is giving a new vassal treaty to the people of israel as a whole.

      The culture of the OT was their whole lives, not compartmentalized like we do it. It is a fair analogy that others have used as well in this discussion. Plus, there are here and now examples of good christian families having “one bad egg” or a black sheep. The prodigal son is a much more vivid example of a son who turns his back on his good father. Its also way too convenient to vilify the parents if their kid goes wrong. Free will also extends to children (as Im sure you’re aware 🙂 ) Why don’t we see more families in the New Testament then? Like Paul talking bout the family model in Acts when he’s on his many missionary journeys, or see it explicitly in his letters.

      Ive done some more research and in his church they are encouraged to have one family meal with another family every month. That is the extent of their evangelism efforts.

      I’m pretty sure many contemporary youth pastors will agree that its not our job to do your job as a parent. Many would beg parents to get more involved… not to just ring and run at the door of church dropping your teens off, get involved in small groups, etc. Be more invested in your kids than just education and athletics. etc. Im also sure that the having experience is the sole qualifier of having children of their own. There are many “parents” i’d never take my kids to. Also, it follows the same logic that if you only will take your kids to a pastor who has his own kids or teens, if your kids get brain cancer you would only take them to a doctor that has had brain cancer themselves also…

      Your Quote of John 17:15 is interesting, however you jump into a reducto absurdium argument that I’m not sure holds. You jump from going to school, being involved in sunday school and youth group and then walk into strip clubs and bars, etc in the same breath. This requires a great deal of catastrophization of youth group and sunday school to place them on the same plane (logically) as strip clubs. Jesus says don’t take them out of the world… but keep them from evil. Porn, strip club, alcoholism are all explicit evils. Schools aren’t in that list.

      You also seem to believe that its a defacto tautology that home school kids are inherently better discipled than by parents of kids who are sent to private schools. Anecdotally, the two CPS referrals that I have made from churches for child abuse have been from home schooled homes. I doubt that would hold up as being discipled better… There are some that do a good job, but also there are many who get sent to regular school or even christian school and do great and do great things. Actually, I take umbrage at the assumption that you make there. I wouldn’t doubt (in fact i’ve heard) that this attitude which i’ve seen and heard from other home schoolers… i.e. we love our kids more, we disciple our kids better, etc is a big reason why the HS movement is being rebuffed and rebuked as harshly has it has. It feels like a new phariseeism on some fronts. I never said parents are not responsible for discipling their children… there are a ton of proverbs indicating that is right. you also make it sound that its already a proven fact that what is happening now is a detriment to their family and kids. How was this a detriment to me??? My brother Ed? Scott Jones??? how are we massively screwed over, lets pick some other alumni, zack burke, jenn mckenna, (all secularly educated, all mentored by parents as well as youth leaders/ministers) how are we hosed??? you say that it injures us, PROVE IT!!!! How has chuck swindoll, or Pastor MacDonald, or many other great christians who walk the planet now without homeschoolers, detrimented, damaged, harmed.

      Have you checked out the Orange movement? it has gained a lot more traction than the family centric model that this author makes. I’m beat and need to put a full day of work in today.

      Good evening.

      • chris macdowell says:

        come on matt, i’m a mailman, stop using latin with me.. 😉 after googling your terminology, i stand my comments 🙂 .. i’ve got a real problem with the public education system for a lot of reasons. this is your blog and it’s about the book, so i’ll save my facebook rants for facebook. the thrust of the book is to train up your children and disciple them yourself as a christian parent. that’s what it’s about, and that’s what the Bible calls christian parents to do. we can’t delegate it to anyone else and too many do. the church wants to get parents involved, but doesn’t train them how to with anywhere near the vigor it trys to do it for them. if you tell people to get a job, but you’re going to pay them until they do…what’s going to happen?

        –one side comment-Ive done some more research and in his church they are encouraged to have one family meal with another family every month. That is the extent of their evangelism efforts.–that’s it? how many families in the typical model have people over? and that’s what the church encourages-so do you think no one tries to evangelize outside of that one method? give these people a little credit Matt.

        love the discourse man. thanks again for taking the time to check the book out, i promise to return the favor with your books.

        • mattmurphy79 says:

          keep in mind that when you say people who disciple their kids in the current methods detriment their kids, you do libel them. That’s why I asked for proof. I got work tomorrow, so i’m hitting the hay.

          • chris macdowell says:

            you know…i reply to one comment of yours than a different one shows up. i guess one of your deleted ones came back, because the above is longer and far more feistier than the one i answered.

            –The culture of the OT was their whole lives, not compartmentalized like we do it. –(is it absolutely necessary for us to compartmentalize everything like we do?

            –You also seem to believe that its a defacto tautology that home school kids are inherently better discipled than by parents of kids who are sent to private schools. –(no- not necessarily. you can absolutely do it wrong. it depends on the parent..it’s not guaranteed…i do think a godly parent who does what they’re supposed to will have better results if they homeschool rather than send the kids to public school for sure and private school as well. you’ll find exceptions in every scenario, i’m sure..but overall…i think homeschool is the best option)

            –Im also sure that the having experience is the sole qualifier of having children of their own. There are many “parents” i’d never take my kids to. –(what?! no, having children is not the sole qualifier, having children who are living for the Lord, due to your influence is the qualifier)

            — I wouldn’t doubt (in fact i’ve heard) that this attitude which i’ve seen and heard from other home schoolers… i.e. we love our kids more, we disciple our kids better, etc is a big reason why the HS movement is being rebuffed and rebuked as harshly has it has. It feels like a new phariseeism on some fronts.–(phariseeism–hmm..well if that’s the type of comments you’re hearing, i can’t blame people for being turned off, but that’s not what all homeschoolers are like, so let’s not judge homeschooling on people who aren’t showing love. that’s like saying i’ll never be a christian, because all the ones i met were hypocrites.)

            –(all secularly educated, all mentored by parents as well as youth leaders/ministers)–( well that’s the thing–mentored by parents as well as—-for the most part, in my experience, kids who participated in YG who had parents who were serious about the Lord were much more likely to continue on in the faith than those without similarly invested parents. are there exceptions both ways? yep…but for the most part…the parents were the key. that’s my point matt..parents need to be majorly involved and not enough are and i believe more would be if it was preached from pulpit and more attention was given to training parents rather than training children)

            You can find good examples to fit almost any scenario you want to promote, and you can find bad examples to apply to any scenario you want to discredit. It comes down to what method does the Bible seem to indicate as the best way to raise and disciple your children? More Parents need to step up to their responsibilities..that’s my point and that’s the books point, you are taking rabbit trails everywhere to defend youth ministry; and it’s needless. Youth Ministry is here to stay. If parents start taking their responsibilities seriously then what should be, will be…things will sort themselves out better. The shared concern we have is parents not being involved enough…I think they aren’t because they think they are doing enough..they bring their kids to church all the time..what’s the problem? The problem is the church isn’t taking the stands it needs to regarding child-rearing and discipling. It’s offering Plan B though. Plan A is hard, most people would rather go with Plan B. And it’s not what is best. Does God use it? Yes. Many great examples. BUT how many more would there be if more people would disciple their children they way God calls them to? How many would go with Plan A if that’s what was preached regularly, what was modeled regularly, what was trained regularly, and there was no Plan B. That’s my point.
            Parents have the most opportunity to influence their kids, and most squander it. This is a movement of people serious about the Lord and serious about their responsibility to raise their kids right. It seems to me, you are more interested in discrediting it based on your assumptions then really trying to see if there is something you can learn from them. I just don’t think you’re being fair. I’ve been on both sides. I know the arguments and speaking from experience, parents are the key and that’s where the emphasis needs to be. It doesn’t mean no one else can influence your children, but I think the priorities of the church today need to be reversed if we want to see better results.

    • mattmurphy79 says:

      he is not talking of children in jun 17:15 but believers.

      • chris macdowell says:

        –Your Quote of John 17:15 is interesting, however you jump into a reducto absurdium argument that I’m not sure holds. You jump from going to school, being involved in sunday school and youth group and then walk into strip clubs and bars, etc in the same breath. This requires a great deal of catastrophization of youth group and sunday school to place them on the same plane (logically) as strip clubs. Jesus says don’t take them out of the world… but keep them from evil. Porn, strip club, alcoholism are all explicit evils. Schools aren’t in that list. –(was using your quote from your first reply…i was comparing YG and SS to strip clubs, i was comparing public school to strip clubs as I took your reference to not taking them out of the world as a shot at homeschooling. you said you don’t think of schools (public, i’m assuming) as inherently evil as bars and strip clubs …eh..i’m not convinced…..i think the damage they do is probably worst as you don’t think you’re going someplace evil, but good, and the indoctrination of public school is evil and i will stand by that)

        • mattmurphy79 says:

          I’m not trying to defend youth group. Just trying to analyze this book on its merits. It is more than just family and faith, he also talks about the church.

          Homeschool, youth group, sunday school are all social constructs, they should be evaluated, but at the end of the day we work with what we got and we work towards making things better. 🙂

  3. chris macdowell says:

    I’ll be interested to see that. (where are your diagram pages now?)

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