How can your family go on mission for Christ?

LIBERTY UNIVERSITY BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY: 4MAT Book Reviews #  Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy

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Submitted to Dr. Jon Bishop, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of  EVAN 525-B12 LUO Contemporary Evangelism

by Joyce Gerald February 25, 2015

 Abstract

Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee have written a book about God’s intended purpose for the family.  The book proffers steps by step directions for preparing families for the Great Commission. Pipes and Lee offers a compelling argument of how to establish and maintain a healthy God ordained family that is powered to be on mission for the Kingdom of God.  The book is not a quick fix for dysfunctional families.[1]  The book is divided into six brief chapters with supportive evidence supports the profile of an unhealthy family.[2]  The data for unhealthy families is thorough and leads the reader to visualize news media presentations about the demise of families across America.  The authors produced a visual lifestyle “T” chart that compared unhealthy families and described that were involved in “activity-driven merry-go-round. . . . stretched, stressed, and losing touch with one another”, as opposed to healthy families that were on mission for God.[3]  Pipes and Lees identified healthy families as families that embraced their God ordained right as their children’s first teachers and disciplers.[4]  The authors suggested that readers examine their families to determine how much quality time they spend together; to ascertain their commitment level to each other, and to define if their purpose is centered – on themselves or God.[5]  Pipes and Lee dispensed seven realities of experiencing God as an evaluative tool to identify the incarnational nature of the family’s spiritual existence.  The main thrust of the book is how to develop a God-centered family that passes on the baton of evangelism from generation to generation.[6]

Concrete Response

            The thought that came to mind as I read this book was, “What happened to my daughters?”  We were the family that studied together.  As far as the congregation could see the Geralds had an “exemplary” family. We lived by the “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” scripture (Proverbs 22:6). [7] As we drove from place to place, we talked about the awesomeness of God and the wonders of his creation.  His words were everywhere in our home; they were on the doorposts.[8]  However, as I think back to our family Bible studies and our missional pursuits, Joyce was the one who initiated the process.  My husband was not the spiritual leader of our home.  We were not on any true discipleship missions for the Lord.  Yes, we took care of the fatherless and the widows, but these were the people who were already in the church.  As a family, we did not reach out to the unchurched with the intention of specifically sharing Jesus with them.  Yes, we opened the doors of our home to them.  We met them at their point of need, but we did not say, “Would you like to know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior?”  So what happened to my daughters?

They both went off to college. They both gave their lives to the Lord.  They both served him and his people.  However, when A could not find a mate at age thirty-three, the pressures of the world caved in on her.  Her relationship with the Lord was not personal enough to withstand them.  If we were focused on the Great Commission to worship, it is highly probable that she would not have married the first guy that was nice to her.   “A” saw the spiritual disconnect between the Word of God and the actions of the church, and her family and walked away from it all.  So, did her sister.  “A” was, and still is, a huge influence on her sister.  The one thing I regret about this book is the fact that it does not proffer any guidance on how to reclaim your family for the Great Commission.  I know that my children both love the Lord.  They live lives of service to others and are cognizant of the fact that what you put out into the universe comes back to you in kind. When I asked them to pray for people who are in need of prayer, they always respond with, “I will pray for them”.   Christ lives inside of them.  They just choose not to go to church.  It is interesting to note that not a single meal is eaten without asking God for a blessing, and  their children do the same thing. As a parent, I can only go forward living my life as an example of what a Great Commission worshiper should look like, and also continue to love my children.

Reflection

As I read this book, I hoped to arrive at a point where it addressed divorced Christian mothers whose children have walked away from the church.  It never happened.  The reality is that there are many Christian women in churches all over this country who are ignored and so are their families.  I spoke to a divorced mother on Sunday.  She broke down in tears when she realized that her divorce was a Biblical one and that she was not living a sinful life as her pastor had told her. [Her ex-husband repeatedly committed fornication and adultery]. This appears to be a common concern among Christians.[9] How does a broken family remain whole and become Great Commission worshipers in today’s church?  The divorce rate among Christians is just as high as the divorce rate among non-Christians. [10]That would have been a stellar chapter.  How to be a family on mission when you are a single parent?  That would have been another superb chapter in this great book.  How to apply the key principles of ministry and evangelism in a single parent family would also have been a great paragraph in this section of the book.[11]

This book mirrored numerous points of reference in the Worship and Witness book as well as Servant Evangelism.   When addressing the concentric circles, this would have been a perfect place to interject the realities of single parent families in the body of Christ. [12]  Every person has a concentric circle.  The church is well aware of the fact that the divorce rate is as high among church members as it is in the world.  Why is this not addressed in the book?  How does a single parent family share Jesus with an intact family?  That is going to happen at some point while they are on mission.  It should not be very different.  Once an individual shares their conversion and recovery stories, it erases the possible questions that may be raised by the family with whom they are sharing Jesus.  The recovery testimony becomes a powerful tool that demonstrates the saving grace of our Lord and Savior.  It also speaks about the love of God for all people and recognizes that he values them.

Action Steps” 

Action Step One: By the end of July 2015, the EAMT will begin writing articles that will address the spiritual needs of a variety of family types.  The focus will be on non-traditional families and how they can be on mission for Christ.

It may be because I have not started the pastoral counseling classes yet, but I feel that this is an area, within the body of Christ, that is not being addressed.  In every single church that I have attended, on two continents, three countries, and numerous cities, families who have experienced divorce are the “ones we do not talk about”.  Or worse yet, “the ones we do not plan events for”.  Many families experience the same degree of grief after a divorce that families who have lost a loved one by death experience.[13]  Sometimes, the pain is so intense that a level of depression sets in that never leaves them.[14]  It is impossible to be on mission when you are in such deep emotional distress.

The creation of articles that proffer spiritual guidance for these individuals will apprise them of the fact that, “You Are Not Alone”.  Secondly, God has a mission for them and their children too. It is even more important for them to know that God has not moved away from them.  Thirdly, they must know without a shadow of a doubt that they too are called to minister to others.  What better way to minister to an unsaved divorced person than to have an on fire Christian who has experienced a divorce share their recovery story.   Before a person can know that they have value, they must experience it.  Jesus valued the Samaritan woman.  He valued her as a human being and subsequently she was able to listen to him and receive salvation.[15] This action step will facilitate that process for many families.  They will need resources to help them with their mission.

Action Step Two: By the middle of May 2015, the EAMT will create a resource page that provides links to how single parent families can be on Mission for Christ with their children. 

The team will perform internet searches with this topic in mind.  It will develop an annotated bibliography of websites, books, sermons, articles and other support documents that are in line with this action step.  It is essential that we encourage people to be on mission for Christ; however, when one does not provide them with step by step guidance, such as the guidance provided in Family to Family, they are left floundering.

If you are aware of any of these resources please send them to us.  We want to make this resource page effective and useful to parents and their children.

Action Step Three:  By the end of March 2015, EAMT will provide a recourse page for divorced parents and their children.  The resource page will provide a listing of local congregations that have a ministry that supports families who are recovering from a divorce, and provides them with the training that is needed to be on mission for Christ.

After my conversation with A S W this week I realized that some divorcees are not going to church because of the treatment that they have received.  Their children don’t want to go to church for the same reasons.  It is the mission of the EAMT to serve all people regardless of their marital status.  This action step will help us to serve shut-ins who would rather be in a congregation.  Of course, these same people can participate in the online evangelism activities of the team; however, they need to be obedient to the Lord and be in attendance at a local congregation.  It will require networking with as many people as we possibly can online to develop the list. It is a much-needed service.  Once again, we are going to meet them at their point of need, embrace who they are as individuals, and then provide them with the materials and support they need to be on mission for Christ.  They need spiritual food before they can feed others.  The seven realities of experiencing God will become real to them as they are spiritually fed.[16]  This goal will also facilitate the “out of the house, into the world concept of the Family to Family book.[17]

 If you are aware of any of these resources please send them to us.  We want to make this resource page effective and useful to parents and their children.

Bibliography

“Adherents.com.” World Religions Religion Statistics Geography Church Statistics. Accessed March 04, 2015. http://www.adherents.com/.

Boston.com. October 31, 2004. Accessed March 03, 2015. http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/10/31/walking_the_walk_on_family_values/.

Cherlin, Andrew. “The Effect of Children on Marital Dissolution.” Demography 14, no. 3 (1977): 265. Accessed March 04, 2015. doi:10.2307/2060785.

Mason, John. You Can Do It-: Even If Others Say You Can’t. Grand Rapids, MI: Spire/Revell, 2008.

Pipes, Jerry, and Victor Lee. Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy. Lawrenceville, GA: Jerry Pipes Productions, 1999.

Reid, Alvin L., and David A. Wheeler. Servant Evangelism: Showing and Sharing the Good News. Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, 2013

NOTES

[1] Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy (Lawrenceville, GA: Jerry Pipes Productions, 1999), Pipes and Lee, Family to, 4.

[2] Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family, 1-4.

[3] Ibid., 1

[4] Ibid., 10.

[5] Ibid., 12-18.

[6] Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family, 1-4.

[7] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2009).

[8] Deut 6:9 “Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

[9] Boston.com, October 31, 2004, accessed March 03, 2015, http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2004/10/31/walking_the_walk_on_family_values/

[10] “Adherents.com,” World Religions Religion Statistics Geography Church Statistics, accessed March 04, 2015, http://www.adherents.com/.

[11] Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family, 72.

[12] Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family, 72-77.

[13] Andrew Cherlin, “The Effect of Children on Marital Dissolution,” Demography 14, no. 3 (1977): 365, accessed March 04, 2015, doi:10.2307/2060785.

[14] “U.S. Divorce Rates: For Various Faith Groups, Age Groups and Geographical Areas,” U.S. Divorce Rates: For Various Faith Groups, Age Groups and Geographical Areas, section goes here, accessed March 04, 2015, http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm.

[15] Alvin L. Reid and David A. Wheeler, Servant Evangelism: Showing and Sharing the Good News (Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, 2013), 35.

[16] Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family, 15.

[17] Ibid., 69-90

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bueller
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 11:15:01

    I know what it’s like to come from a divorced family and then to find a dad who makes the family complete and shares God with all of us every day of his life. Now mom is a widow and that sharing no longer is done. It seems we’ve all gone our own ways and it was only recently that I had the conversion needed for God to really come into my life and keep the Holy Spirit in my soul and close to my heart. I don’t think mom quit teaching about God because of dad’s death, I think she feels we as adults should be teaching our own children about God as she does make sure before meals prayers are said and all great-grandchildren no matter what their age knows how to pray. God gave us a special man to teach all of us!!

    Reply

  2. Joyce
    Mar 13, 2015 @ 18:11:33

    That is such a huge blessing Bueller 🙂

    Reply

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