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I really, really liked this book.

When a Barna poll suggests that 7 out of 10 children from evangelical homes leave the faith by their freshmen year of college, it seems that we are all doing something wrong. That's the basic premise of his book. We're not accomplishing what we want to, namely raising our sons and daughters to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. Sure, our homes might be decent, where we give God our Sundays, even Wednesdays, but the other 5 or 6 days He's not even on our radar screen.

It is encouraging to see someone articulate what I believe about so many things, but he does it in a way that doesn't make me feel like the biggest loser if I've had trouble implementing some element of family discipleship. Baucham presents the case for a realistic solution to keeping our children in the faith: read them the Bible. Pray with them and for them. Take them to church and make it your first priority. Teach them Truth in every area of their education, whether it's within the context of a Christian school or a homeschool. Answer their spiritual questions honestly. In other words, form within them a biblical worldview so that when they leave your home they continue to cast situations through that lens. You might have a home with plenty of rules about media, clothing, dating, etc. but once your children leave home if all they've ever heard is what to do and not to do, but they've had no encounter with the Living Christ who has written His Word on their hearts, then they're going to go off the deep end. Our hearts are naturally inclined toward evil. When our son is off at college and there's no one to tell him not to let his girlfriend spend the night, what's he going to do? That's where a worldview becomes so important. I know there are people out there who have written better about this than I have, but these truths make me shake in my boots for my beautiful children and force me to my knees!

I will admit that there are some issues in the book that can be so counter-cultural, especially counter-church cultural, that it has forced me to seriously wrestle with how I view the role of the church in the spiritual training of my family. The church is essential, but it's also a more supporting role. I already agree that Sunday School, the origin of which was to evangelize the children of parents who weren't Christians, isn't enough spiritual food for my children. I already agree that the youth pastor's job isn't to teach my children all they need to know about Jesus. God gives parents the job of teaching Truth. My trouble is that I cannot imagine having my 8 year old, my 5 year old, and my 1 year old all together with me for Sunday morning worship. I might feel differently if I had my husband with me (remember, he's pretty tied up on Sunday morning). I know moms who can do it. But am I one of them???

10 comments:

Julie, I really want to read this book. You are not the first person to recommend it! As for your question, could you keep your 3 kiddos with you during the worship service? My answer is that if your church culture does not support it, then it will be very hard. My church's tradition has been to separate parents and children from the moment they walk in the door. To remove oneself and one's family from this ingrained system will be difficult, no doubt. Just this year, we've been having our 2 older kids sit with us during the worship service. Its been fine. But to not send them to their Sunday School classes would be very difficult. They would not be welcome in the adult study.

I'm going to write about this on my blog, and I'd like to link to you!

February 25, 2008 at 4:52 PM  

I haven't read the book, never heard of it and have no plan to but I have a question from your review...Does the Barna poll also give numbers for how many of those 7 out of 10 children who "leave the faith" return in later years?

I have a problem with the phrase "leave the faith". I think when kids leave the home and are experiencing life away from parents it's almost natural to divert from what they've been taught for 19, 20 years. I don't think it's necessarily leaving the faith but perhaps making the faith more their own. Hopefully, prayerfully those kids return to the spiritual path with their relationship with God more in their skin and bones - not just the clothes they can put off and on but they own their faith.

I don't think it's a matter of what we, as parents, can do to insure our kids are the 3 out of 10 - other than pray like the saints! Your treading on shakey ground (you meaning the authors, not you!) when you propose a formula for insuring your kids don't stray.

I do agree we, parents, should be doing those things suggested (read the Bible, pray together, teach honestly,etc.) but these aren't guarantees and if thought as guarantees, the parent who relies on them and then sees their child stray may stray themselves in their faith.

Does my diatribe make sense?

February 26, 2008 at 6:32 AM  

IWJT-I think you have some good thoughts on this. To my knowledge, the Barna poll doesn't mention those who come back. But speaking from experience, I could spend all morning naming people I know who were "raised in church" who have no interest now. I think that's because the church hasn't equipped the family to make disciples. Often, the church is interested in someone walking down the aisle during the altar call, raising his hand during VBS that he wants to be saved, or filling out a card with his Sunday School teacher professing faith. Then no one follows up, no one disciples, and what Voddie Baucham is saying is that that's the job of the family, and the church's job is to support and encourage the family to do that. Now, there are some things about his views of the church I'm not sure about, namely a patriocentric view of the father of the family as the priest or mediator of the home, but his thoughts on how the family should function in the task of making disciples is fantastic.

I agree there is no prescribed formula that turns kids into true Christians. I think that's a lie that homeschoolers tend to buy into: If your child does this, then you're guaranteed that result. BUT, I do think a lot of what we ARE doing as Christian families isn't accomplishing our goal: to help our children to know and love Christ. And that is where Baucham is coming from, I think.

I love good discussion! :)

February 26, 2008 at 8:54 AM  

Juloyes - this may seem like a really silly question, perhaps I just know little about your church, but
where are your children during Sunday morning Worship? Our little ones can go to a Nursery up to the age of about 2-3 but after that they sit in on the worship as a family.

I can't imagine worshipping God in any way other than as a family.

Maybe I missed something, I'm off to read the post again in case I did!

February 26, 2008 at 1:29 PM  

no problem mummy mac! we have nursery for babies through preschool. so during worship i have my 8 and 5 year olds, but my 1 year old is back in nursery. my husband usually does music and the preaching so we never get to sit with him. we also have no other elders for him to share preaching responsibilities, so it can get kinda lonely in the pew, quite honestly. i've found robbie castleman's book Parenting in the Pew hugely helpful as I stumble through this mom adventure...

February 26, 2008 at 1:33 PM  

Wow! Lots of good thoughts and discussion here!
And if I may...this is not scientific research it's just a little story of one set of preacher's kids. There were three. All three went off to college. One rebelled and sowed a few wild oats the other two behaved themselves for the most part and got good grades. One of those kids now walks with the Lord as faithfully as possible, knowing it was grace that was saving. The other two live good lives but have little to no relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is a true story...guess which one is walking with the Lord? Yep the rebel. That wasn't probably too hard to figure out. The other thing that probably isn't hard to figure out is that I'm the rebel child.

Now, I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about my dad and mom because they love the Lord and have served Him faithfully for some 38 years and they love each one of us very much. However, I would have to say that there was not a lot of discipleship necessarily going on at home.

We were a pretty "normal" Christian family for the late 70's and early 80's. As kids we went to Sunday School, VBS', church camp, and youth stuff and I think like a lot of other parents my parents thought we were getting what we needed spiritually. But our culture was shifting and what we were being taught in school was not a Judeo-Christian ethic but rather Humanistic Relativism. We were being primed for the post-modern world view.

I think it is crucial that we give our kids a Biblical world view. We, as parents, cannot depend on the church to do that for us. It's called a firm foundation and it's got to be deeply imbedded in their hearts before they leave home. For some reason it got imbedded in mine but not in my siblings'. I knew exactly where to turn when I hit rock bottom.

Sorry this is so long, I'm afraid I'm up on a soapbox. But I am passionate about Christian families recognizing that it's up to us personally to disciple our own kids.

Okay, now if you want me to shut up I will! :)

February 26, 2008 at 6:26 PM  

I'm glad you wrote your review! I just finished the book on Sunday and though I still have lots of questions, I have been challenged and inspired by the book. One of my questions is: What does this multigenerational church service look like? How do you keep children engaged during a service that is clearly speaking to adults? I think it's a good concept, but I'm not convinced 'cause I can't picture it. Keep in mind, I attend a church where there is no nursery or children's church or teen church and I find myself thinking...I wish there was something for the kids 'cause it's hard enough for adults to sit through our dull service (oh...my husband is a pastor there, but it ain't his fault the church is dead. ;-) ). I don't want kids to grow up thinking that this is what church is supposed to be like...and by not engaging them, it's a huge missed opportunity. You have them there, why not teach them. So, if anyone has a clue, please explain what this multi-generation church service is like.

The book has motivated us to have family worship everyday. Our son is almost 6 months, so we're not exactly seeing changes in our family, like he describes in the book, but it's still something that is important to us. We both grew up having family worship and never could get the hang of doing daily couple devotionals. Our infant has helped us keep it short and sweet and even fun.

The thing that struck me the most was how easy it is to fall into the trap of doing all the activities and sports and interests and school and neglecting the fact that our primary role is to disciple. I must keep that in my mind as our son grows up. Disciple. Disciple. Disciple.

And regarding one of the previous comments, it's true that some who were raised in the faith will stray and come back, but our job is to make sure they have a foundation to come back to, something real that they can grab onto on their way back.

February 27, 2008 at 12:33 AM  

hey cluesy-thanks for your thoughts. Our church doesn't have this kind of service, but I think the idea behind it is this:

all week long you are doing worship at home as a family. you purposefully sing songs you know will be sung on sunday morning. you read scripture and teach the kids to listen carefully. you pray and teach them to pray with you. you ask questions and work on scripture memory. You're basically saturating them with the Bible for those 30 minutes every day so that when Sunday morning rolls around your kids have some idea of what's going on. Robbie Castleman's book Parenting in the Pew has TONS of wonderful, practical suggestions for engaging your children in worship, rather than just catering to them or asking them to sit and be quiet. She even suggests (if you can do this) to let your little one stand on the pew next you sharing a song book so that he can see what's going on. It's hard to be interested when you're staring at the backs of people. The idea is that a kid can sit in front of a movie for 2 hours with no problem, and a movie has no eternal value whatsoever. If you can train your children to see the importance of worship, by modeling it yourself, then they will pick up on it. (For me, babies are a whole new ball game I'm still trying to figure out!)

I was reminded of this over the holidays by my insightful husband. He listened as his nephews, all from good Christian homes, were drilled with football questions from their dads. There's nothing wrong with enjoying football, but it occurred to us that they were "catechizing" their sons in the art of football. Do they with spiritual things? I don't know. I hope so. But it was interesting to observe.

By the way, we use the Truth and Grace stuff from Founders.org and have REALLY LIKED IT. It's a great place to start.

February 27, 2008 at 8:56 AM  

Hi Julie, I wrote a post at my blog and linked it to you...this one I mean. I hope you don't mind. I didn't do anything in your "Links to this post section" because, uh...I really don't get that (I'm semi-technically challenged). Anyway, you don't have to post this comment but I just wanted to let you know. If for any reason you don't want me to link to you please let me know! Thanks, Cyndy

February 27, 2008 at 5:12 PM  

I understand now Juloyes, our nursery is for babies to 3 year olds but most of the kids want to be with the rest of the family before they are 3. We found our kids all wanting to join in with the worship at about 2.5 as they feel they have outgrown the nursey.

I think I mis-read your original post, I thought none of the kids were in the worship.
:-)

February 28, 2008 at 9:08 AM  

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