A Critique of Family Driven Faith: Part Two

By Jerry Wragg By Todd Murray | 05.06.15 | The Expositors Blog

A Critique of Family Driven Faith: Part Two

                      Yesterday in Part 1 we covered…

    • Why we wrote this critique for our church
    • Why Family Driven Faith is imbalanced and, at times unbiblical, when it equates having children involved in a church’s ministry with parental abdication.

    Today we will look at our second concern,

    2. Family Driven Faith sets the ministry of the family & church in opposition to one another. 

    As a result of believing that all age-graded teaching formats cause parents to be spiritually derelict, FDF fosters a defensive posture toward churches who do offer healthy, scripture-centered ministry partnerships with parents.  Baucham presents an unnecessarily polarized view of the obligations/desires that both the church and parents have to minister the word of God to young people.  In the view of the FIC, the ministry of the church and the ministry of the family is an “either/or” not a “both/and” proposition: 

    “If we believe that God calls us to…teach the word in our homes… then we must also believe that God intends for the church to aid and not hinder families in this process.”  (p. 171) 

    “…revival in our family led us to a crisis of faith as our newfound commitment caused a clash of cultures between our family and our church.” (p. 172)

    “… we are willing [to] adjust our entire lifestyle around the incredible responsibility God has given us to prepare our children…And if we do so, will there be a church there to wrap its arms around us, encourage us, equip us, and cheer us on? (p. 174)

     “…I believe the modern American practice of systematic age segregation goes beyond the biblical mandate… [and] in some instances actually works against families as opposed to helping them pursue multigenerational faithfulness.” (p. 180)

    “We must commit ourselves to family driven faith.  More importantly, our churches must facilitate this commitment.” (p. 191)

    FDF’s insistence that church leaders “must facilitate” (p. 191) and even “validate” certain church member’s personal, family, lifestyle choices” (p. 173) is a dangerous overstatement.  Local church leaders should allow parents the freedom to make decisions for themselves about which ministry opportunities they choose to utilize as they teach and evangelize their children.  Pastors and church leaders are not required by God to change the overall structure, eliminating certain ministries (Youth Group, Sunday School, AWANA, etc.) in order to “validate” a particular family’s philosophy. 

    Baucham gives very disconcerting counsel to those who share the preferences of the FIC but are not presently in churches that are a part of that movement:

    “Begin to cry out to God for these truths to come to the fore in your church.  Talk about these things with your friends. Start to implement them in your home.  Perhaps God will use you as a catalyst to wake the sleeping giant and move your church toward family integration.” (p. 204)

    It is spiritually irresponsible to label these extra-biblical preferences as biblical “truths” that must “come to the fore.”  As a Pastor, Baucham must surely realize the very real potential for divisiveness in his urgent call to ‘talk about these things with your friends.” Members should be encouraged to either defer to the ministry structure of their local church or communicate concerns to God-appointed leaders, not other church members! When individuals with strongly-held personal preferences begin voicing their dissatisfaction on any church related matter to others, unnecessary division is inevitable.

    On page 176, Baucham articulates the ultimate questions raised by the FIC movement regarding the role of the church and the family:

    “If the Bible clearly gives parents the responsibility of disciplining their children, what role does the church play in the process? And if the church is not playing that role, what options do those of us pursuing family driven faith have?”  (p. 176)

    To be consistent with the teaching of the book, perhaps the questions could be restated as follows:

     “If the Bible clearly gives parents the responsibility of disciplining their children, what role does the church play in the process? And if the church is not playing that role by refraining from giving virtually any input into my children’s lives unless they are sitting in close proximity to me as a parent what choice do I have but to pray that my elders will see that my chosen method of parenting is the best, to talk to others in the church and thus gain consensus and momentum to bring about conformity to my preferences, to insist that leaders exclusively endorse my parenting approach and thus change the entire church’s ministry structure to fit my concept of biblical parenting, or leave the church to find one that does implement my preferences?” 

    Ironically, what the FIC sees as separating the family—age-graded teaching formats—has actually led to another kind of division in the church by separating brothers and sisters over personal preferences.  

    Tomorrow we'll cover the third concern.

    Jerry Wragg and Todd Murray (professors at The Expositors Seminary and pastors at Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida) wrote this review of Family Driven Faith.

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