Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Review: "Family to Family"

In the book “Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy” authors Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee write this much needed book to help equip parents and families in passing on their Christian legacy.[1] Jerry Pipes is the author of several books besides this one that are related to personal growth and the family. Additionally, he has produced numerous booklets and training processes along with being the Team Leader of the Prayer and Spiritual Awakening Team at the North American Mission Board. He has traveled internationally, speaking at crusades, seminars, and is a sought after conference speaker. He earned his M.A. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and D. Min. at Luther Rice Seminary. Dr. Pipes and his wife, Debra, have two children.

Co-author, Victor Lee is a veteran journalist and minister with a focus on discipleship, sports evangelism, singles a ministry, purposeful family living, and evangelism strategy. A former newspaper reporter, Victor has written several hundred articles for Christian web sites and magazines. He also serves as Minister of Single Adults & Evangelism for First Baptist Concord, in Knoxville, Tennessee.[2]

The book is a short book made up of only six chapters totaling a little over a hundred and twenty pages. Although it is a small book it is packed with a wealth of information to help and assist families in passing on a Christian legacy. This is done through short easy to read chapters that give plenty of practical examples and illustrations that help the reader to relate personally with what Pipes and Victor write. Many parents are without answers and have never been taught on how to pass on their faith and are frustrated that many of the children, when they leave the home also leave the faith. The author writes that this book and “the success of our families will be determined by the commitment to know and live the principles of God’s Word.”[3] This book depicts at the end of each chapter examples on how any family, no matter where they may be at in the journey in raising children practical applications to begin leaving a lasting legacy.

The introduction to the book gives the reader the background and purpose for writing the book and encourages the reader that the tools given can get a family off in the right direction. However, the authors warn that it won’t be easy nor is it a quick fix. He encourages the reader, that the book should be read together as parents and states the importance of that throughout the book. The first chapter continues to substantiate the need for families to be “on-mission” as the author supports that with not only illustrations of a typical 21st Century family, but page after page of startling statistics that what families are doing now, is not being successful. He then gives the reader ways to examine where their family is at, which helps best determine where to state. Once a family begins to implement the biblical principles, the author then gives clear marks or distinctions of what a healthy, biblical family will become.

Chapters two and three look at the nuts and bolts of developing a mission statement that is unique to your family and situation. Through this process of developing a personal family mission statement is the means in which the baton of their faith is passed on. Much through understanding how to lead children or different ages to Christ. The family mission statement allows what the author calls a “centerline and will show when and if a family has strayed from the centerline of faith.”[4] Both of these chapters along with all of them are packed with Scripture verses and biblical examples with the primary focus being on evangelism. First of one’s own family and that affect that this will have as families “pass the baton of their faith to the next generation.”[5]

The last three chapters focus and give rather a unique “bull’s-eye” approach on how the gospel then expands from the family outward to relatives, all the way to what the authors call person “X.” However, it all starts from the family, then from there this faith moves out of the house and into the world. The whole idea the authors try and emphasize is that the family, due to its purpose statement and being on-mission will pass on their faith to their immediate family, friends and into the world. However, it does not stop there, because now these Christians then move out from their families and into their own churches. However, because of being on-mission, they are fully devoted followers of Christ.

The author’s purpose was to provide a simple, yet very practical book that would be able to help parents and families develop a family mission statement that would keep families from losing the next generation and equip them to pass on their faith. To that extent the authors were highly successful. The authors also do an exceptional job in setting up the chapters that flow in a logical sequence. Because of this, the book is user friendly and will be more likely to be used and put into implementation as opposed to just read and cast aside.

Each of the six chapters of the book gives the reader plenty of real life scenarios, which are then followed by practical steps to be taken to implement a comprehensive purpose statement no matter the make-up of a family. In addition, at the end of each chapter are the “steps to making it yours.” This is an actual outline of what you just learned in the chapter and require you to fill in the empty blanks. I like this, because it makes you go back through the chapter and review the main principles. In addition, these “fill in the blank” pages can also be used as handouts to teach this in a small group scenario.

The reader will also enjoy reading and implementing some of the “Family Building Activities” that are also at the end of each chapter. These are great ideas to help families give and plan quality and quantity time together. There is also a list of key Scriptures at the end of each chapter that were used in support of the principle being taught. I like that each chapter is packed full of Scripture and the verses are not taken out of context. In addition to this, there is also a list of additional resources, which gives the reader a wealth of additional material that may help a particular struggle a family may be experiencing.

In summing up the book, I would say it is more like a workbook. This makes it an incredible usable tool for any family to pick up and begin to train themselves to be an on-mission Christian family. God’s building block for society has always been the family. The key, however, is if that if a family wants to cooperate with God in building a strong family and carry out our mission as Christians to make disciples, as given to us in the Great Commission, we need to be taught how that can be done. This book does that and should be required reading for parents. This is a book that would be a great tool to use in premarital counseling. The couple can go through it fairly quickly and produce a family mission statement that could then be reviewed by the pastor or counselor. It’s also great, for any couple to have on their bookshelf as it shares with parents how they can lead their children to Christ.

In conclusion, I initially wondered why this book would be included in a class about evangelism. I quickly realized the importance that this book has on passing on our Christian legacy and how that our faith is caught more than taught. This book teaches parents how we can pass on that legacy, by simply producing a family mission statement that can guide us in keeping our priorities on-mission. Our culture is fast paced, and it is so easy to lose sight on what is important and what will make an eternal difference. In having a family mission statement it will aid us in identifying when we have strayed off course and not doing what is really important. By being on-mission, our children won’t just hear about what we are supposed to do as Christians, but they will live it!

[1] Jerry Pipes and Lee Victor, Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy (Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, 2008).
[2] Victor Less, Victorlee.org, http://www.victorlee.org// (accessed May 3, 2009).
[3] Pipes and Lee. Family to Family. 3.
[4] Pipes and Lee. Family to Family. 25.
[5] Ibid. 51.

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