The Call to Discipleship
About the Guest
Today on the broadcast, author and pastor Voddie Baucham talks with Dennis Rainey about the responsibility of parents to spiritually guide and disciple their children.
Today on the broadcast, author and pastor Voddie Baucham talks with Dennis Rainey about the responsibility of parents to spiritually guide and disciple their children.
The Call to Discipleship
Bob: Pastor Voddie Baucham thinks it may be time to rethink youth ministry in the church. In fact, at his church they don't have a youth ministry, but he still has lots of youth pastors – the fathers.
Voddie: We see men coming into our environment who have basically had their children stripped from them by the church, and these men come in spiritually impotent, and we look at these men and say, "No, sir, there's not going to be a youth group for your teenagers. Here's what we do – we look them in the eye and say, 'I double-dog dare you to go home and be the pastor of your home.'"
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, February 25th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll talk to Voddie Baucham today and find out what he's thinking about the church and youth groups and moms and dads. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. I figure today I probably just ought to hand things over to you, and I can probably just leave the studio because I don't think …
Dennis: I think that's a good idea.
Bob: I don't think I'm going to get a chance to ask a question or make a comment for the rest of the program.
Dennis: You know, as we invited our guest to come into the studio today, I started thinking about the original boat-rocker …
Dennis: Jesus. Remember when He told his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side," and He went to sleep up in the front …
Bob: The storm started rocking the boat.
Dennis: There was a bit of a rocking the boat, and he taught them a few things about faith and trust and believing in Him, and He's been rocking boats ever since. And I thought, "I can't be the original boat-rocker, but I can join the club, and I feel like I've got a fellow boat-rocker in the studio with us – Voddie Baucham joins us on FamilyLife Today. What do you think, Voddie, do you think you're a boat-rocker?
Voddie: Oh, no, not at all. I don't know where you guys would get that from.
Bob: Don't play dumb with us, Voddie.
Dennis: You went to Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. I have to ask you – how did you get out of there? You had to cause some trouble when you went there.
Voddie: Well, one of the keys of being an effective boat-rocker is knowing when to rock, and so I just – you wait until you get your paper, and then you start rocking the boat.
Dennis: Oh, there you go, so you started rocking after you graduated. Well, Voddie is a pastor today, he's the author of a new book called "Family Driven Faith," and I don't think it's a novel idea, it's really, I think, a biblical idea. You think families need to be the ones who instruct their children in matters about God.
Voddie: I do, I do. I think families are commanded to be the disciplers of their children; that they have a multi-generational vision and not just endure their children or survive their children but to disciple their children; to equip their children and to launch them into the world with a multi-generational kingdom vision.
Bob: And I think we have to be clear at the outset – this is not because you grew up in a family where this was how it happened, right?
Voddie: No, no, it really isn't. You know, it's interesting, I had an interviewer ask me once, you know, "What do you say to people who hear what you're talking about but they didn't grow up in a Christian home or a Christian environment, and they didn't have this modeled for them?" I said, "Not only can I speak to those people, I am those people."
I grew up in a single-parent home, raised by a single, teenage, Buddhist mother in drug-infested, gang-infested south central Los Angeles, California. Didn't hear the Gospel, come to faith in Christ until my freshman year in college, so I don't write this book because of a rich heritage that has been invested in me. In fact, for the last two generations, both sides of our family – my wife and I – there have been 25 marriages and 22 divorces. So we are not writing this because of the legacy that we've received. This is a result of the fact that we've determined not to repeat that legacy.
Bob: If I had known you when you were 16 in south central, were you trouble?
Voddie: You know, what's interesting, I really wasn't. An interesting thing happened for me. When I got old enough to find a little trouble, my mother realized that there were some things that I needed that she wasn't really equipped to give to me. So she shipped me out, and I lived a year and a half in Buford, South Carolina, with my uncle, who was a retired drill instructor in the Marine Corps. Hoowah! And I got out of trouble.
Bob: You did.
Voddie: So it was a tremendous, tremendous occurrence in my life, and one of the things that God really used to shape the man that I am today.
Dennis: Did he put you through boot camp?
Voddie: Oh, very much so, yes. It was – you know, what's interesting is if people hear that, and they think about my uncle, you know, screaming at me and all this sort of thing – I can't remember him every raising his voice at me. He was the kind of man who didn't have to. He did 22 years in the Marine Corps, three tours in Vietnam. I was living with GI Joe. He's the kind of man, when he walks into a room, space reorganizes itself around him, and you pay attention to what he says.
Dennis: I have to ask you, though, just given the description that you made, and you explained a little of it through your mother's wisdom to put you in touch with your uncle, what kept you from becoming a victim? Because usually young men, young women who grow up in that kind of setting, it's always somebody else's fault. They didn't do this, they did that, I'm a victim of my circumstances, but you didn't grow up and become that. Why?
Voddie: Absolutely not – a number of reasons. I think, first and foremost, is my mother. My mother had a lot of reasons to give up, a lot of reasons to point fingers, but my mother worked hard, and she did everything that she could to see to it that I became the kind of man that she knew that I could become. My mother was nobody's victim. She never lived like that, she never allowed me to live like that, she never blamed anyone for our circumstances, and if I can come out of the environment that I came out of, anybody can.
Dennis: There are a lot of people who are growing up today out of broken homes.
Dennis: And they are looking back on that and leaning on that like that's an excuse for not taking responsibility today.
Voddie: Absolutely, and if you do that, then you live your life as a perpetual victim, and those things are victorious over you and especially for Christian people. That's what gets under my skin, as though somehow we believe the blood of Jesus is not strong enough for certain circumstances.
Listen, the power that resides in me is the power that rose Christ from the dead, and nothing in my background is bigger than a dead Jesus.
Bob: [chuckles] I like that.
Bob: Given your background, and given what you didn't have in terms of spiritual training, when did the idea that family needs to be central in this, start to dawn on you?
Voddie: You know, it's interesting, there are several things that sort of brought that about. One is, my wife and I were married the summer between my sophomore and junior years in college, and I learned quickly that that happened because there were certain parts of the Bible that I was unaware of and hadn't discovered.
For example, a lot of my Christian friends were evidently quoting from a book, I don't know maybe 2 Hesitations that says, "Thou shalt not marry until after college," but I was unaware of this book. Or 3 Hesitations evidently says that "If you do, you certainly shouldn't have kids until after grad school," because our first child was born 10 months after we got married. So we were what you call "efficient."
Bob: And you had been reading the part of the Bible that says "It is better to marry than burn," right?
Voddie: Amen, amen. And I'm asking God for wife, and He brings me a woman who is everything that I asked for a bunch of stuff I didn't even have sense enough to know that I wanted or needed, so we got married. But here we were, and here's our legacy of all of these broken homes and failed marriages, and many of the people in our family, like a lot of my first cousins, they just never got married. Many of them had children out of wedlock and a bunch of others things, they just didn't get married because of the tragedies that we had seen around us, which made it difficult but drove us toward one another.
And we also realized that we had to train and disciple our children in ways that were different than what we were familiar with. So all of these things sort of came together to make us realize that we needed something different.
Dennis: You undoubtedly attended church like everybody else does – you start going to church, you have children, you put your children in Sunday school or the program that the church has for them, they grow up through Sunday school, they go into youth group, et cetera, et cetera, but one day it dawned on you, or over a period of time, the process of thinking in your mind changed where you go, "You know what? Something is wrong with this system. It needs to be different."
Now, if our listeners aren't ready right now, the boat is about to be rocked.
Bob: Especially if you're a youth pastor. Hang on, buddy.
Dennis: I just pitched him a softball, and he is about to take a swing at it, and the boat is about to rock.
Voddie: You know, I was a doctorate student at Southeastern Seminary. My supervisor was a man by the name of Alvin Reed. He had done his dissertation on the Jesus Movement, this revival in the late '60s, early '70s, among young adults here in this contry. And he was doing a lot of work in the area of youth ministry and things of that nature; had done a lot of work with youth – I had as well.
And it started off as sort of an academic pursuit – what's going on? What does the data say? And ultimately we came to a place where we realized somewhere between 70 percent and 88 percent of the young people who were being raised in Christian homes, they're leaving by the end of their freshman year in college. By the end of their freshman year in college, they are not part of the church following the Lord – again, kids raised in Christian homes.
Also, we came to discover during this time of working and researching together, that since the late '60s and early '70s, the number of youth ministry professionals has grown exponentially, but our youth baptisms and our rate of youth retention have declined steadily over the same period.
And so we're looking at this, and different people in our circles are coming to different conclusions and, after a while, it started to resemble the slavery debate. There were a bunch of people over here calling for amelioration – we need to treat the slaves better. I'm over here by myself going, "No, brother, we need emancipation."
There is nothing in the Scriptures that leads us to a systematically age-graded ministry – nothing. Beyond that, when we do look at the Scriptures, and we look at discipleship, God gives us this entity, this institution called "the family" as the place where this multi-generational discipleship takes place.
And then, thirdly, what we've been doing in these age-graded ministries has failed miserably. I put those three things together, and my answer was we need to let this go. Again, not everybody was ready to get there, but that was the only conclusion that I could draw.
Dennis: So if Barbara and I were down in the Houston area, and, say, had our six children back in the days when they were growing up, and we came to your church on a Sunday morning, what can we expect to find in terms of education for our children? I've got some teenagers, is there going to be a youth group?
Voddie: No, sir. No, sir, there is not going to be a youth group for your teenagers. Here is what we do when men come to our church – we look them in the eye and say, "I double-dog dare you to go home and be the pastor of your home." That's what we do.
Dennis: A double-dog dare?
Voddie: I double-dog dare you to go home and disciple your family. It's your job, and we're not going to do it for you.
Dennis: Is that in the book of 4 Hesitations?
Voddie: That's right, that's right – no, that's 1 Hesitations right there – the double-dog dare.
In all honesty, we see men coming into our environment who have basically had their children stripped from them by the church. You know, we go to go church, and everybody goes off in their different directions. We look at men and say, "Hey, listen, we're trained professionals, don't try this at home," and these men come in spiritually impotent. They are not the priest, prophet, provider, and protector in their home. And we look at these men and say, "God has given you an incredible calling. We are here to equip you, we are here to assist you, and we are to hold you accountable as you go and disciple your family."
And what we are seeing, guys, is men who are coming to us – and this is within weeks. They're coming to us, fighting back tears, saying, "I wouldn't give anything for the way my wife and my children look at me now." We're having women come and saying, "I've been praying that my husband would step up and be the spiritual leader of my home, and now it's happened. Our marriage is renewed."
It is amazing what we are seeing in the lives of family as we are seeing men step up and be the priests, prophets, providers and protectors in their homes.
Bob: Okay, well, let me take that, though, and let's say you have a church full of men stepping up and doing it right – can't there by a youth group alongside that as a sub-contractor?
Voddie: My question would be why? Why would we do that? Is there anything – if you went to the Bible, and if all you had in the Scriptures would you come away saying, "It is absolutely necessary that we have this systematically, age-segregated ministry for our young people?" Where does our impetus for that come from? It does not come from the Bible. You don't find it there.
Bob: But – and I hear you, but I'm thinking if, with what you're doing, it sounds like men ought to come to church and everybody else stays home.
Voddie: Absolutely not, because when we come to church, we all come to church together as families, and we see this transformation begin to take place within the lives of these young people and within the lives of these families as they worship together.
Bob: So a pastor who would say, "Well, I hear you, and we've got kids in our service as well, and we're trying to challenge dads to do what you're trying to challenge dads to do, but on Wednesday night the youth group gets together, and we've got a young pastor, and he's ministering to those high school and junior high kids and it seems to be a good thing that the families appreciate." You would say it's a problem?
Voddie: I would say a couple of things. Number one …
Bob: Now he's – he's not sure how much he wants this boat to rock, is he?
Dennis: Bob's trying to see how far you're going to rock this boat.
Voddie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Number one, let's just say, "Okay, great. We've got this Wednesday night service for the youth." What purpose would we have for that meeting? Why do my children need a pastor who is not my pastor? That's my first question. And it automatically assumes this myth called "the generation gap" – that my children somehow cannot understand the language of a culture that is not their own. That creates egocentrism in my children; that creates animosity between my children and myself; it also creates an allegiance with my children spiritually to a person who is seen as being able to minister to them because they understand my children and their culture.
My children's responsibility is to understand culture at large, not to think that the world revolves around them. Well, what if the youth minister is just teaching the Word, and it's solid. Well, if he's teaching the Word, and it's solid, how come they can't come in where the rest of us are having the Word taught, and it's solid.
Again, the Scriptures do not dictate this segregation. They don't even allude to this kind of segregation, and the only reasons that we can come up with for this kind of segregation come directly from our culture and the un-biblical portions of our culture that move toward this age segregation.
Dennis: Okay, I'm going to ask you a question. There are some listeners going, "Okay, I hear you." His church has to got to be 200 or 200 people. I mean, there is no way you could build a church that ministers to a lot of people but just listening to you and having tracked with you, your church is a little bigger than that, isn't it?
Voddie: You know, it's really not. Our church is 200 or 300 people. Of course, we just started last April.
Dennis: How fast is it growing, though? Are you attracting other families?
Voddie: It is growing rapidly, our church is growing rapidly, and there are families coming from all over the place, and here is what's interesting – there are a lot of families who are now coming to our church, and they're saying, "Hey, we know Bill and Susie, we know who they were, and we know what's happened to them. Can ya'll do that to us?"
We're seeing people who are coming in now and understanding that there is transformation and family revival taking place all over our church, and they're coming because they desperately need that.
Dennis: I don't want to be misunderstood about my statement of "only 200 or 300 people." I grew up in a church with 200 or 300 people, and I owe my salvation, humanly speaking, to the faithfulness of a pastor who taught the Book of Romans.
Dennis: But what I was getting at is in this mega church era …
Dennis: … where we have big programs, lots of entertainment, lots of bells and whistles, you just started in April. What are you going to do as this thing gets larger? Are you going to break it down into smaller churches?
Voddie: Absolutely. We are a church-planting church, and so we are already looking at our next church plant. We want to plant family integrated churches all over the Houston area, all over the country, all over the world. We desperately want to do – there is a desperate need, and there are people all over the country who are contacting us because this is resonating with them.
There are a lot of people who come to our church in the same predicament. Their oldest child just got youth group age, and they're terrified, because they look at the youth group and go, "I do not want that." And so they're coming, and they're saying, "Something in us was screaming for family discipleship, screaming for us to play the role that God has called us to play," but our churches are such now that, you know, and, again, people don't want to admit this that once you have the youth group culture, it goes from "can" to "should" to "must." We "can" have kids in the youth group to we "should" have kids in the youth group to we "must" have kids in the youth group.
Bob: I've talked to folks who have visited a church on a Sunday morning, and they are starting to walk into the service as a family, and somebody stops them and says, "Your kids go over here."
Bob: And they say, "Well, we'd just like to have them in the service with us," and they go, "That's not allowed." And I go, now, wait a sec, something is wrong there.
Voddie: Well, let me tell you something else. I can put my hands on three men who I know personally who have been fired from their positions at their church because they did not send their kids to the youth group. Because you're not sending your kids to the youth group, you're sending the wrong message to the rest of the church.
Dennis: Well, this isn't the book of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd Hesitations.
Bob: No, and he didn't hesitate much at all, did he?
Dennis: He didn't. This is Ephesians, chapter 4, Paul wrote these words. He said – and he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, now listen to this purpose clause – "For the equipping of the saints for the work of service to the building up of the body of Christ until we all grow up and attain the unity and maturity of the faith." Now, where does the work of service start? Does it start at church or does it start at home?
Voddie, you don't know this about Bob and me, but for years we've said the work of service starts at home.
Dennis: And what the church should be doing is equipping moms and dads, husbands and wives, to know how to begin that work of service where it matters most – at home. And, frankly, when we heard what you were doing down there, we just – Bob and I gave high fives, because I know there are going to be those who don't appreciate your work. You undoubtedly have rocked some boats within the Southern Baptist Convention …
Voddie: Oh, yes.
Dennis: Oh, yes. But, you know, the original boat-rocker is always calling us to something better, and I think if we're followers of Christ, we're going to find better ways of getting things done.
Bob: Well, and here's the thing – there may be folks who come away with a different conclusion about what you do in a church related to children's ministry or youth ministry, but I don't think you can go to the Scriptures and come away with a different conclusion about our responsibility as moms and as dads to pass on our faith to our children to make the spiritual handoff to the next generation, and that's what's at the heart of the message of your book, "Family Driven Faith." It's a book that we've got in our FamilyLife Resource Center.
You can go to our website at FamilyLife.com, and on the right side of the screen, you will see a box that talks about today's broadcast. If you click that box, it will take you to an area of the site where there is more information about how you can get a copy of this book and about other resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife to help you raise sons and daughters who do have a heart for God.
Again, the title of Voddie's book is "Family Driven Faith." You'll find more information about it online at FamilyLife.com or call us to order a copy a 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. And when you call, someone on our team will make arrangements to have a copy of this book or other resources you need sent out to you.
You know, even when we try our hardest as moms and dads to raise sons and daughters who have a heart for God, that doesn't necessarily guarantee that they will walk with Christ through their teen years or in their 20s or even for a lifetime.
I was talking to a friend of mine today whose teenage daughter got in with the wrong group at school and started doing drugs, and mom and dad had to step in and make some hard choices, and I thought about an interview we did a number of months ago, Dennis, with Elyse Fitzpatrick on what happens when good kids make bad choices, and this week we'd like to make a copy of that CD available to our FamilyLife Today listeners.
It's a free gift we'd like to send you, especially if you find yourself in this situation or if you know someone who is in this situation with a teenage son or daughter who is making wrong choices. If they're looking for some help and some hope, you can call 1-800-FLTODAY and request a copy of this CD. We're making them available one per caller and, again, the number is 1-800-FLTODAY. We're especially hoping that those of you who have never gotten in touch with us here at FamilyLife might call and ask for a copy of this CD.
Again, the toll-free number is 1-800-FLTODAY, ask for the interview with Elyse Fitzpatrick or the interview entitled, "When Good Kids Make Bad Choices," and we'll get it sent out to you at no cost.
And let me also encourage you to be back with us tomorrow when were going to be joined again by Voddie Baucham, and we're going to talk about what moms and dads can do to help make sure that we're pressing God's Word into the hearts and minds of our sons and daughters. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.
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