Family


The educational decision of parents has to be one of the most controversial issues within Christian circles today. With so many choices and coinciding pros and cons, it can be daunting for parents to make a decision on how to educate their children. Notwithstanding, many parents have any number of external factors that weigh in their educational decision such as cost, location and jobs just to name a few.

Of all the educational choices available, the choice to put ones child into the public school system is perhaps the most controversial and is met with the most resistance within some Christian circles. IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity by Colin Gunn and Joaquin Fernandez is a book that sets out the historical and religious context in which the public school system was birthed and the ensuing cultural and religious consequences it has produced, especially as it pertains to Christianity.

The basic message of the book is that the public school system is inherently anti-religious and particularly anti-Christian. At the heart of the public school system is an intentional decision to remove religion from education especially God and Jesus Christ. There is no tolerance for the mention of either whether by a teacher or student. Therefore, if Christians are to educate their children according the nurture and admonition of the Lord and in wisdom, then why would they send them to be educated by a school system that seeks to destroy those very foundations? If the goal of education is to equip students with wisdom and knowledge, then why would Christians send them to be educated by a system that rejects the very One who is the source of those things, Jesus Christ.

To get this point across Gunn and Fernandez have amassed a diverse group of individuals from parents to former public school educators to give their take on how Christians should view and respond to the public school system. Some of the stories are very personal like a Christian parent whose child was a victim of the Columbine shooting and former public school teachers who were remove from their teaching positions after mentioning God or Jesus in their classes. Other contributions are long time educators who have been in the system for decades and seen the many fundamental flaws within the system particularly as it is ironically anti-educational. Even more are some notable vocal voices within Christian Evangelicalism who have been rallying Christians to abandon the public school system in favor of other educational avenues. Some of these voices are Douglas Phillips, Erwin Lutzer, Ken Ham, Voddie Baucham Jr. and R.C. Sproul Jr.

Along with the publication of the book is an available DVD documentary which tells the story of the book using the famous yellow school bus of the public school system. The school bus is used to “pick-up” the various philosophies and educators throughout the public schools history. The end result is that by the time the book and video are done, we can see who and what a parent is putting their child in the yellow school bus with. They ask, do we want to put our kids in a bus that will take them to an educational system that will teach them a blatantly anti-Christian worldview? Is that what we want our kids exposed to for 8 hrs a day, 40 hrs a week and over 200 days a year?

IndoctriNation presents a solid case for why Christians should not send their children to public schools. I realize that some parents have no choice but to do so because both need to work and lack of money for a Christian school. This is only compounded for single parents. While good overall, the book and DVD could have been more helpful to parents in these situations with tips on what to do.

What I found to be most helpful and compelling in the book and DVD is the history of modern public education. I am doubtful that most teachers even know the history of ideas and people that have shaped the public school system. I would think that a history of education class would be required for all teachers whether in secular or Christian colleges but this is not the case. This book is a great place to start and I recommend every Christian parent to educate themselves by reading this book.

You can buy the book, the DVD or a combo pack from Master Books.

NOTE: I received this book from Master Books in exchange for a review. I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review and the thoughts and words expressed are my own.

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One does not need statistics, polls or research to know that the family is in trouble. For Christians who believe and live out the belief of the centrality of the church in their lives and the body of Christ, this poses an especially troubling and challenging problem. The church is made up of predominately families and if they are in trouble so is the church of which they are a part. Families make churches and if our families are broken then so are our churches.

But there is hope of family restoration. While salvation may be an individual working of God on a person we understand that salvation is not merely individual. As John Barach points out in the foreword, Christ “dies so that relationships could be restored, so that every aspect of life, including our families, might be healed and made new….healing for our families is found in right relationship to God through Jesus Christ and that the context for that healing is the Church, which is the body of Christ.” (p. xii)

While the reader may initially may be thinking that The Church-Friendly Family is a book about making the church family-friendly (though there are some points of agreement there), that would be missing the point of the book entirely and a misreading of the subtly of the title of the book, The Church-Friendly Family. While there is some legitimacy to making the church family-friendly as in being family focused. What Randy Booth and Rich Lusk want the church to see is the subtle and yet drastic difference there is between making the church family friendly and the family church friendly. “We must come to see the Church as the primary family and our individual families as outposts of the Church.” (p. 20) Barach sums up the book well when he states

Our families are not ultimate, and they will not be restored and glorified by an exclusive focus on the family. In fact, if we make our family and its well-being our highest priority, we sow the seeds of our family’s destruction. Rather, our families must be placed in the context of the family of God. The nuclear family does not need more advice or exhortation; it needs Jesus and it needs His body. Only if we make our families “Church-friendly” – only by putting our families in the context of the church, by putting Christ and His people first, by bringing our families to share in the Church’s worship, fellowship, calling and mission – will our families be restored, and more than that, be transformed from glory to glory. (p. xii)

In his editors introduction the book, Uri Brito continues to crystalize the central focus of the book with the following words:

The mission of the Church is the heart of God’s mission for the world. And since the future of the natural family is not based on the centrality of the natural family but on the centrality of God’s new cosmic and supernatural family, then the future of the individual family is a future found in the Church. The family must die so that it must be raised to a new status, so that it may embrace the glorious and eternal family of the Church. (p. xix)

Following these two summaries, Randy Booth and Rich Lusk set out to explore what the Church-friendly family looks like in all of life such as work, worship, school, society, politics and the various relationships within the home itself. One of the founding themes that runs out of the Church-Friendly family idea is the role that the Church plays in the life and redemptive success of the family. It is the idea of the Church as an outpost of the kingdom of God and families as outposts of the Church. What we see is that there is a circular relationship between the Church and the family of giving and receiving. The Church gives to the family that the family might give back to it and vice versa. A healthy Church cannot exist without healthy families and vice versa.

Another important aspect of the Church-friendly family philosophy is how the activities that happen at Church shape the families activities at home. Central to the family shaping activities of the Church is the act of worship. Booth explains,

Family worship is an extension of the Church’s corporate worship; it doesn’t stand alone. The same is true for individual worship. The worship of the congregation is central or primary, and the failure to understand this has diminished the influence of the Church in the culture. (p. 25)

One of the natural aspects of the outflow of corporate worship into family worship is the family dinner table. In a world of soccer mom vehicles carting kids from one thing to another and fast-food chains every five miles the stable family dinner table has been traded for a mobile table that is not conducive to family growth, togetherness and table worship and fellowship. “Fast-food and drive-thrus have replaced the family table.” (p. 49) On the centrality of the family dinner table Booth writes,

We begin each week gathered around the Table as children to be instructed and nourished just before we are sent out to live. And so, too, we go to our homes and gather around smaller tables to be instructed and nourished, and from there we also fan to live and to love. The liturgy is practice for life. (p. 50)

But if we are to have Church-friendly families then we need to have families who are raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Too often in our parenting we just want to raise “good” Christian kids who obey the ten commandments and live “good” lives in our secular world. But we “don’t just raise godly children so you’ll have godly children. You raise godly children so they carry forth the mission of God…” (p. 73) Since Christians are on the mission first given to Abraham we are raising kids with the kingdom in mind. “Raising kingdom kids means a lot more than just raising kids who are ‘good Christians’…..We cannot settle for moral kids; we must raise missional kids, kids who learn to live with a sense of being ‘sent’ into the world with a divine mandate.” (p. 77)

There is no shortage of good things to say about The Church-Friendly Family. It was a pure joy to read and put a smile on my face time and time again. My heart kept singing amen and amen with each passing page! This is a book the Church needs to read and head. Yes, we need Churches to be for the family. But Churches for the family are nothing without Church-friendly families.

It is often said that strong families make strong churches. This is true but it is only half the equation. The other half of the equation is that strong men make strong families. Recently there have been a number of great books out that guide men on how to be the spiritual leaders of their families.

Voodie Baucham is a pastor in Texas and is a resounding voice among those who are seeking to equip men to lead their families. In November of this year Crossway will be releasing his new book Family Shepherds: Calling & Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes.

Below is an interview Dane Ortlund conducted with Voodie about his new book:

You can purchase the book from WTSBooks, Crossway or Amazon.