The authors of the book are Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee. Content Summary
In the book, Family to Family, Families Making a Difference, the writers detail the major premise of the work within its first few pages: “Family to Family will help you discover God’s purpose for your family, develop a family mission statement, establish core values, make time for quality and quantity family time centered around God’s purposes, and equip you to lead your children to Christ and mentor them spiritually” (3).
The book’s purpose is to maximize family time in the Lord, bringing family members closer together by helping them actualize their standing first in Christ, and then as they relate and interact with each other. The book promotes the idea of discovering “the critical link between being on mission as a family and passing the baton of your faith on to your children” (3). This line of thought is prevalent in the book and it seems to summarize the mission of the writers. The book views itself as being based and rooted in the solid foundation of the scriptures, and the authors express as much: “The bottom line–God’s plan for the family has been revealed in His Word… The success of our families will be determined by our commitment to know and live the principles of God’s Word” (3).
In the first chapter of the book, the writers make the contention that many families are not healthy and are not spending quality time with one another. The writers reference research gathered from The American Family Association and George Barna. Through the accumulated research, the writers state that, “only 34 percent of America’s families eat one meal together each day. (In addition) the average father spends only eight to 10 minutes a day with his children. This includes meal times.” (6) Another alarming statistic that they present to their audience is that “only 12 percent of America’s families pray together, (and) the average couple spends only four minutes of uninterrupted time together a day” (6). After the writers finish sharing some alarming statistics, they proceed to identify what a healthy Christian family should look like. They call for persons to examine their own families and to ask the following questions: Is it a cohesive unit or a disjointed collection of individuals? Is it on mission for God or unsure of its mission? Is it flowing or fumbling? Disciplined or destructive? Purposeful or pointless (7)?
From the second chapter onward, the writers seek to allow the book to serve as a guide to nurture an unhealthy family as they move towards an improved level of spiritual health. The writers begin by proposing a family mission statement, stating that, “A family mission statement will serve as a centerline and guardrails for your family on the road through life” (25). The writers lead us on an extensive exposition on the importance of a familial mission statement and how to initiate one and incorporate one into our families. In chapter two, they present seven realities, which are geared towards accepting and incorporating the fact that God is and can be an ever-present reality within your family.
The writers then discuss the importance of teaching and sharing the Gospel with children. They present the fact that 90 percent of all Christians have accepted Jesus before the age of 25, and therefore, place a premium on passing the baton onto the next generation as early as we can (51). The remainder of the book becomes a summary of other evangelical programs and ideas, shared in an effort to encourage the entire family to become an evangelizing force together. They include the models of concentric circles (75) and other familial evangelistic ideas, which are geared towards the family being unified and presenting that unification before others as a witness to their unity in Christ.
In the final chapter of the book, the writers detail the importance of Biblical based evangelism for all of those persons involved in the family unit. The writers advocate what they call the FIRM approach to evangelism, which involves: F – ask about family, I – ask about their interests-listen, R – ask about religion-listen, and M – share the message (114-115). Lastly, the writers provide some practical methods for sharing the Gospel, which include some scripture memorization and tips on a salvation-testimony presentation. Evaluation
The book seeks to establish a rationale for the disunity of the modern family and then to provide mechanisms to promote unity within the family through the Word, then to evangelize through the family as a united front in Christ. The book is short, efficient and to the point. It allows for easy reading and presents an effective rationale for families being unified first in Christ (with each other), and then presenting that unification as an active, vibrant testimony to others. The writers identify early on that this is a book for families in crisis, and the greatest contributing factor to that difficulty involves time and busyness within the members of the family itself.
Due to the simplistic presentation of the material, the writers allow for a potential impact for a wide variety of persons and family units (beyond the traditional ones). The writer’s presentation of unhealthy families and the facts provided which detail children who have fallen away from the church cannot be understated in its level of importance, and serves to provide the reader with a foundation for the rest of the work. The flow of the work involves a clever method employed by the writers that mixes conversational and anecdotal stories with necessary information, which is important to hold the interest of the target audiences.
The writers may have perhaps offered a more compelling argument, had they given their target audience a little more background information concerning the statistics they compiled, rather than just highlighting that information in endnotes. The chapter on mission statements feels rushed, and gives the impression that research for the work appears to be somewhat lacking. Case in point: there is no citation offered concerning the comparison of Jonathan Edwards and the Jukes families. This cannot help but offer the audience the false notion that the writers composed the necessary research to develop the notion they are putting forth (24-25).
The writers provide another example without properly citing and giving credit to the source on page 26, in the example of the bucket of sand and the big rock and the little rock. This is an illustration which has been used by many in the past, and the writers are not the original source of it. They state, “Perhaps you have seen the illustration of the big rocks and little rocks” (26). Again, this may be nitpicking; however, I believe that they need to demonstrate responsibility, since the book is a Christian work.
The book contains relevant study questions and provides a plethora of workbook-like material. That being said, the work is ideal for small group studies in the church and provides a foundational approach for working with families. Beyond being simple enough for the new convert to understand, the book is filled with practical and insightful applications for all believers to use in their endeavors to spread the Word within their families and to others.
The writers have fulfilled their purpose in the book. It is obvious to see, with the statistics presented and the commentary offered, that families are in trouble and the church needs to respond to their needs. The church is comprised (mostly) of families. The enemy is aware that if he destroys the family unit (as presented in scripture), then he goes a long way to placing a major injury on the church. Pipes and Lee are to be commended for their efforts. They wrote Family to Family: Leaving a Lasting Legacy, as a reply to the susceptibility of even supposedly Christian families to the status quo. This status quo, as presented by the writers, involves an adherence to one of the varying levels of dysfunction that many families experience.
The outline for families in the scriptures is one man, one woman, and if they are blessed, then children. This work provides an excellent evangelistic modality within which to engage all types of families (single parent, no children, etc). This is due to the fact that, regardless of the construction of the particular family, salvation is needed within and should be displayed cohesively to the world. That being said, one can see that, once a family mission statement is adopted, the potential for manipulation within a family is obvious. Potential problems could arise should one of the parents attempt to use the mission statement to manipulate their children to act and perform in the manner that they desire. Should conflict and divorce arise in the family (which is a startling reality for the church as well as the world), then these paradigms constructed originally to help could instead be used to further divide the entire family.
With any risk of developing methodology and then instructing others to incorporate this methodology into their lives, without being able to control all extraneous variables (which only God can), there is the potential danger for some using the writer’s material for abusive purposes. Yet in taking this risk, the writers succeed. This is largely due to the fact that they speak the truth of the scriptures in love, and are to be applauded for developing and exhorting others to incorporate these methods into their lives to improve their families and evangelize the lost.
There is something pure and right about someone trying to assist others whom are in desperate struggles in this life. The writers have presented a unique and challenging way for the church to implement and instruct families which are in desperate need of such tutoring. A most wonderful encapsulating quote is found on page 114, which states, “The bottom line is sharing the way of salvation through Jesus Christ.
This is what this book is all about: raising your family to follow Christ. Following Christ means sharing the gospel with those who do not know Him. Jesus said, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’ (Matt.4:19). If you are not fishing, you are not following. You and your family are on mission to be fishers of men” (114). This is a rousing call to families and the Body of believers. Those who endeavor to heed the call must realize the writer’s purposes in desiring to show them a way to raise their families to serve and follow Jesus.
Pipes, Jerry and Victor Lee. Family to Family, Families Making a Difference. Lawrenceville, GA: Jerry Pipes Productions, 1999.