Having two children of his own, Paige and Josh, Dr. Jerry Pipes has written several books dedicated to families and their connection to Christ. These include Building a Successful Family, Becoming Complete and the book being reviewed, Family to Family. Pipes received his B. S. at Texas A & M University, followed by his M. A. at Southwestern and then his D. Min. at Luther Rice Seminary. He is the President of Jerry Pipes Productions, which seeks to “impact people through cutting edge resources and events” (jerrypipesproductions.
com). Pipes has written instructional booklets and training processes that have exceeded 18 million copies.
His teachings have spread internationally through his involvement in assemblies, crusades and conferences. According to his website, Pipes most recent trip to the Northcrest Baptist Church in Meridian, MS resulted in over 445 decisions for Christ. Co-author Victor Lee entered full-time ministry in 1995 and is currently the Minister of Single Adults and Evangelism at First Baptist Concord in Knoxville, TN. He has contributed and edited several Christian publications, including special event evangelism material.
Lee and his wife, Judy, reside in Wake Forest, NC.
Content Summary The cover of Family to Family shares instantly the book’s purpose: a way for hurried parents to leave a lasting legacy with their children and find true significance in the process. Pipes and Lee have constructed a guide aimed at growing as a family in Christ and sharing that relationship with one’s relatives, community and acquaintances. The introduction explains that the book is not a quick fix but a helpful tool for becoming a healthy, on-mission family.
The books definition of family is “persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption” (p. 9).
The first chapter discusses how to become a healthy family in Christ. Sharing shocking statistics concerning the lack of family engagement with one another, the authors instruct one to first examine one’s family. They teach that a healthy family should mirror one that spends quantity and quality time together; one that expresses commitment to one another and to the family as a whole; one that has both parents equally involved in raising the children; one that finds significance in Christ; one that passing the baton of faith to the next generation; one that spends God centered time together (p. 2-15).
In order to have a reflection of a healthy family, the authors suggest six spiritual growth principles which include: quiet time, lordship, development of a powerful prayer life, personalization of God’s word, Christian friendships and accountability and development of a ministry (p. 13). Living out God’s purpose of the Great Commission is the framework of a healthy and growing family unit (p. 15). Chapter two focuses on developing a family mission statement. The mission statement serves as a centerline that intentionally submits to the ways of Christ.
God’s priorities become the family’s priorities. The mission statement begins with the parents and is passed down to the children. When constructing a family mission statement, the family should consider the mission of Jesus (p. 27). The authors provide several Scriptural references to this mission. They also provide five foundational elements in considering a mission statement: (1) the authority of Jesus; (2) making disciples; (3) comprehensive nature of the call to teach “all nations;” (4) baptize new believers; (5) the eternal presence of God (p. 28-29).
The process of developing a mission statement must be fun and inclusive of all members. The family should consider their goals, take a family inventory and conceptualize and personalize the statement. The authors provide many examples of family mission statements. Since nine in ten people come to Christ before reaching age 25, the authors dedicate chapter three to passing on the baton to the next generation. This requires trust, communication, involvement and discussion. Raising children to become mature in Christ begins with the parents and is fed by the church, not the opposite.
The seven key elements to mentoring to children include: modeling, presence, affirmation, praying with and for, transparency, doing things with them and not for them and making one’s actions reflect the Word of God (p. 52-57). The authors give advice on family devotion and family worship (p. 60-63). Chapter four focuses on sharing one’s faith outside of the home. This takes the form of lifestyle evangelism. One is taught how to minister to one’s immediate family, relatives, friends, community, acquaintances and person X (p. 73).
Person X is anyone who one will never (most likely) have further contact with. There is also guidance on ministering to special needs children. The authors provide several evangelism ideas for each type of relationship. They discuss ministry evangelism (including the key methods of look, listen and linger), lifestyle evangelism and family evangelism. Chapter five is closely linked to chapter four as it teaches one to go into the church. The authors share that an on-mission, healthy family will make it their effort to spread the Word of God by integrating ministry and the church (p. 7).
The book gives an example of how to connect with the community while ministering through the church. It suggests a family block party that has the qualities of being inclusive, intimate, intentional, informal, interesting and imaginative. Pipes and Lee also instruct one to engage in family mission trips at least once every two years. It labels the Jesus Video as an effective and non-confrontational way to share Christ while in the mission field. Chapter six concludes the book as it teaches one to share the message.
It stresses the importance of prayer and implements the heart acronym in association with praying for the lost (H= heart is receptive to gospel, E= spiritual eyes and ears are open to message, A= attitude toward sin matches God’s attitude, R= God releases them to believe, T= trust in Christ to live a transforming life) (p. 105). The authors provide guidance on ministering to individuals where they are in life. They teach that receptivity will come in varying levels. Most importantly chapter six teaches that one is not alone in the mission of sharing the gospel.
It also gives many methods to successfully sharing which in turn raises the family to follow the ways of Christ. The conclusion is simplified into one page, challenging the family to step out and respond to the call of evangelism and to be an on-mission family. Evaluation Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee have constructed a book that convinces the reader to mature as a family in the direction of Christ. It’s chapters overflow with logical and structural guidance to reaching this goal. Every section is presented in a categorized manner that is easy to follow.
Along with this, the chapters include appropriate and practical examples for the particular lesson being discussed. The most interesting example provided in the book is in chapter six describing how to share the message of Christ. In this example the authors are explaining that one is not alone in the mission of spreading the gospel: After prayer, a man named Chris feels the deep need to be vulnerable and sensitive while sharing his faith. While Chris is on a plane he begins a conversation with a married couple. The couple asks Chris of his profession and he replies that he is involved in a ara-church ministry. In disgust the couple asks why he would do that.
He replies in a heart-breaking manner that he, his brother and his best friend were all very depressed. The depression resulted in Chris finding Christ and the brother and best friend committed suicide. The couple is quickly moved to tears because they are on the way to bury their son who has recently committed suicide. This is a powerful story and one full of God’s presence. The authors used the story to show how greatly involved the Holy Spirit is in teaching, guiding and using his followers for the advancement of the Kingdom.
The inclusion of examples is a strong point found in Family to Family. The authors also include biblical support throughout the book, stressing the Scriptural references to the Great Commission. Any instruction given is accompanied by biblical command. For example, the authors teach that discovering real purpose in life involves making choices about “who you are and what you stand for” and reference Joshua 24:15 which states, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
The author’s main presupposition, that many families do not spend adequate time with one another sharing the Word of God and the love of Christ, is supported with statistical data (i. e. 88 percent of the children who grow up in churches leave the church and never return) (p. 50). Pipes and Lee conclude that by following the suggested guide given in Family to Family, the family unit will be more prepared to have meaningful Christ-filled relationships within and outside of the family, respond to the call of Christ and pass the baton of faith to future generations.
It is difficult to point out many flaws within the book. For the purpose of this critique, the only suggestion for improvement would be to tie in the theme of family in a more distinct manner throughout the chapters. At times it seemed that it was geared more toward evangelism rather than the books stated theme of leaving a lasting legacy with children and finding significance along the way. Nonetheless, Family to Family is an appropriate guide for growing in Christ (both individually and as a family).
Implementation of its strategies and suggestions may prove to be a beneficial tool to parents and singles. Dr. Pipes has shared his book internationally and has continued to win souls to Christ. Family is an important aspect of life and when molded in the way of the Lord, the family, as a unit, can share the love and knowledge of Christ with the world around them. Salvation becomes a domino effect: family to family.
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