The book Family to Family
The book Family to Family is a concrete guide for the family that has lost connection with itself. The very purpose of the book as stated by the authors is to “discover God’s purpose for your family, develop a family mission statement, establish core values, make time for quality and quantity family time centered around God’s purposes, and equip you to lead your children to Christ and mentor them spiritually.”[footnoteRef:1] As the authors Pipes and Lee walk the readers though these areas they show us how to raise families that are centered on Christ and how parents can pass on their faith to their children and reverse the trend of them leaving the church upon turning eighteen. [1: Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy (Nashville: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999), 3.]
Family to Family begins with the life of the typical church going family that tries to do too much and is not connected to each other through Christ. The authors give the reader a weekly rundown of all the activities that this typical family has and shows how this is the cause of their disconnection with Christ. Pipes and Lee use data from the American Family Association to show that “Only 34 percent of America’s families eat one meal together each day. The average father spends only eight to 10 minutes a day with his children, this includes meal times.”[footnoteRef:2] They also give us the alarming stats that only 12 percent of American families pray together. But they also give the reader seven steps for building a healthy Christian family; that God is all around your family, God wants a loving relationship with your family, God wants your family to be involved with His works, God speaks to your family through the Bible, prayer and church, Gods invitation requires faith and action, your family must make major adjustments to join God, and your family will come to know Him by obeying Him. [2: Ibid, 6]
Throughout the book the authors give sound advice on how to create a family mission statement, passing on faith to our children, and family evangelism. Pipes and Lee focus on mentoring children and providing them with seven key elements; modeling, be there, affirm them, pray with them and for them, be transparent, empower them, and make the Word of God central to what you do.
The book Family to Family grabbed my attention starting in the very first chapter. As I read the first chapter Healthy Families I was reminded of what my family looked like a not even a year ago. This is a perfect example of what my family was prior to my wife and me seriously committing ourselves and our family to Christ. There was an event or activity every day; most of them had nothing to do with our church or for Gods glory. We were a pretty stressed out and tired family because my wife and I were going so fast and trying to let four kids be in every activity or sport they wanted to try. We were going to church each Sunday and serving in the AWANA program that our kids were participating in, but these were being overshadowed by the other five to seven activities. When you add in a chaotic work schedule that comes with being in the Army; we were a family that was completely disconnected from each other and from God. Being disconnected as a family and from God was evident in the actions and attitudes of three of our four children; disruptive, disrespectful and lacking of self-confidence were some of the character traits becoming evident.
My wife and I knew we had to find a way to redirect our family. And we knew the only way was by cutting out the things that really do not matter. First and foremost I had to reevaluate my Army career; sacrificing my family for a small chance of getting promoted was not something that I could continue. Because I knew this I stepped back in some areas at work that were consuming my time and energy. We also cut out all extra activities that are not church related; the energy and enthusiasm that once went to soccer and boy scouts are now used for church choir and plays. As a family we are using our time to serve and glorify God. And at the same time we are teaching our children; or as the authors call it passing the baton; what it really mean to be a follower of Christ.
What I really didn’t like about this book is how it was written to be one size fits all. Just about every chapter or subject in the book was given one simple solution. If you look at chapter two Developing a Mission Statement there is nothing that talks about writing a mission statement that a young child would understand. There is a small section talking about writing one after your kids are older and starting late. I think it would have been beneficial to readers with younger kids to gain a perspective on how to reach a five year old with a mission statement.
I also did not care for some of the data and sources that were used in this book. For instance in chapter three the authors use Howard Hendricks as source on mentoring. Hendricks is quoted “the church’s primary task is to equip parents to be parents.”[footnoteRef:3] This is not something I would have thought I would have read in an evangelism class. The primary purpose of the church; it’s original sole purpose; is to spread the gospel of Jesus and to make disciples. Hendricks is also quoted “nine out of ten people come to Christ before they are twenty five.”[footnoteRef:4] I do not believe this is accurate now or when this book was written. Why do I say that it is not accurate? I am the youngest member of my accountability group, when this book was first writing in 1999 I was twenty seven and had not found Christ. Of the other five in my groups only one had come to Christ before he was twenty five. Even if we had four other members of our group, we still would not be at the ratio of nine out of ten that was quoted. [3: Ibid, 51] [4: Ibid, 51]
Over all I liked the book and it gave a good bit of information that parents can implement in their daily routines. But was I first pointed out there were too many instances of having a cookie cutter solution. It would be nice to another rewrite of this book that touched on multiple solutions to each chapter or topic.
As I have already stated that are some very good points in this book that I plan on using and equipping my family. I feel very confident that my family has balanced our activities and are using our time to further the kingdom of God. But I am going to work on building mission statements for us and passing my love for Christ on to my children.
I really like the idea of having a mission statement for the family. This will keep us from bouncing around from one area in our life to another. The one and only area that we really focus on now is our church and our children’s education. One of the things I want to look at doing is writing multiple mission statements for our family. Why do I want multiple mission statements? There is a very good chance that none of my children will completely understand a mission statement that covers all the points of our life. My oldest is thirteen and she will probably understand most of the family mission statement, but after that we are talking about younger children. What I plan on doing is taking a week for my wife and I to reevaluate our family life and identify some our core strengths and our fundamental weaknesses. From there we will determine if there is a Biblical strength that is missing. From these I will write our family mission statement. Using the strengths to ensure we keep them in our family. Also I will use our weaknesses to find an avenue to establish a fix for them. And finally I will add what Biblical strength that we see is missing from our family. This mission statement will be the base for our family but it will not be the only one that we will use. I will then write a mission statement for my oldest daughter with her input; using the first mission statement as a starting point and adding to it based on what she feels she needs to work on also. Lastly I will rewrite the first mission statement for our three younger children. This rewrite will not take away from the original, but only put it into language that is more suited for a five to nine year old. As time goes on and we all grow with Christ, we will relook and possibly rewrite our mission statements based on what we feel is missing.
The next thing that I want to work based on what I learned from this book, is passing on to my love for Christ to my children. Now I have to say that all four of my children love Jesus, but their love is still the innocent love of a child. The love they have because they know Jesus is their protector and guide.
I want to be able to show them as they get older that to truly love Christ is to love those around you and to serve those in need. This is something that our churches men’s ministry groups has been talking about and is looking to expand. I want to be able to pass the love I have for Jesus on to my children and to have them receive the love like I have from Him. The best way I think to do this is for my children to see love in action; to see me and my wife loving those through service. We already serve inside our church, but I want to get out of the walls and into the community. To do this I am bringing suggestions and ideas to the men’s ministry this weekend to get out in the community. I would like to host the homeless at our church once a week; so we can give them a safe place to sleep, food and the gospel. I want to get out in the community and help the underprivileged with repairs and cleaning around there homes; all the while preaching the gospel to them. Ideas like these and others to demonstrate the love that Jesus has for all will help me pass on the love I have for Jesus to my children.
Pipes, Jerry, and Victor Lee. Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy. Nashville: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999.