If you’re not careful your mind may play tricks on you. After receiving the book, I kept thinking and writing The Family-Friendly Church. The authors though have been intentional with the title. In our seeker-sensitive saturated churches making the church more user friendly for families seems more natural but what Booth and Lusk argue is that the family must orient itself around the church. It’s an emphasis the church and families has lost over the last hundred years. In the foreword Uri Brito sets the stage,
The family is in trouble, and the good news is that the family can be restored in Christ. Salvation is not individualistic. Jesus did not die simply so that certain individuals could be forgiven and restored to new life. He died so that relationships could be restored, so that every aspect of life, including our families, might be healed and made new. . . .
Our families are not ultimate, and they will not be restored and glorified by an exclusive focus on the family. In fact 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 simply need more advice or exhortation; it needs Jesus and it needs His body. (p. xii)
These two paragraphs sum up well the thrust of The Church-Friendly Family.
TCFF emphasizes that the family of God reverses Babel. The Church brings all nations and tongues together. We see movement from the family of Adam to the adopted family of God (p. xvi, xvii). They also argue that the family only fulfills its purpose when it aligns itself with the mission of the church. What they strongly argue against is any notion that the good Christian family tends to seclusion. They are not advocating for the back wood Christian home-schoolers who think everything outside is of the world and therefore evil. Rather they argue for robust for families who create, change, and redeem culture. Families who attack the true evils of the world and push it back. Families who align themselves with the church to do this. Booth says,
Within the context of the broader evangelical Church we can hear men honestly attempting to speak to a corrupt culture and calling people to repent, but there is frequently no solid biblical culture to replace it with (p. 8).
He places this failure and responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the men and fathers. We have not created a gospel culture in our own home so how should we expect to create one in the community at large? Booth again sees two errors: either parents who are apathetic or “over-zealous” (p. 15). The latter is a father who sees the problem mentioned earlier but instead of creating genuine culture starting at the top he force feeds his family (ibid). We must rather create the gospel culture by living in light of the gospel as leaders in the home. We do that by loving and serving. I will add that it might do well to pause arguing with egalitarians about headship in the home and start living it out. Stop talking about loving leadership and start serving. Confront the bullies. Decry the abusers. Humbly serve our wife and children. When people see this, they will hopefully respond, “Seems like that guy is willing to die for his family. I can tell because he’s serving them in every other possible way. He’s prioritizing them over himself.”
One final thought from TCFF. Lusk tackles the topic of missional parenting. He avers that many Christians are afraid to rear children in our pagan culture. Because we fear the culture, we are incapacitated to change it. However, Lusk argues that part of changing the culture takes place when Christians obey God by “begetting sons and daughters” (p. 61 see p. 62 & 73 “We raise them to be savvy about culture and winsome in how they present the gospel”). This is a profound point in our day where any family with more than one and a half children is looked at askew. Where the brand of feminism that teaches women have reproductive freedom–by that they mean they can choose to kill the children they don’t want on demand–is roaming free and barely contested. Therefore, the Church must not fear confronting these lies head on for the sake of “seeking the shalom” of our cities (ibid).
I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to read this book. It was short but it packed a punch. The Church-Friendly Family is a timely battle cry in our dark days. We need just this kind of book. The family is being attacked from all sides and now some of those arrows are coming from the “church.” These churches are advocating for things like abortion and gay marriage and thereby destroying the family “together” (p. 24). We need strong families that are church focused. We need men who are leading their families and placing themselves humbly under the authority of the church. We need church-friendly families.
Note: The reviewer attributed a quote from John Barach to me. Pastor Barach wrote the foreword to the book.