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.
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.
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.