Pipes, Jerry and Victor Lee, Family to Family. USA: North American Mission Board, 1999.
Dr. Jerry Pipes currently works on the staff of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has worked previously on the staff of the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He travels and speaks internationally and is the writer of four books selling more than 18 million copies. In addition to Family to Family, he also authored Becoming Complete and Becoming A Successful Family, both books on successfully nurturing a family based on Christian values. He worked in the administration of President George H. Bush on the War on Drugs initiative. Dr. Pipes received his B.S. at Texas A&M University, his M.A. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his D. Min. at Luther Rice Seminary.
His cowriter on this project, Victor Lee is a minister in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has contributed to many Christian publications and also works as an editor. He is well known as a sports writer and has worked as a Sports Evangelism consultant for the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He attended Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Family to Family is a guide for “raising your family to follow Christ.” It is written as a practical, how-to manual. Its six chapters are divided into four segments. The first two chapters are a guide to understanding the health of your family and getting it on the road to success as a setting of Christian worship and development. The third chapter is specifically on the subject of helping your children accept Christ as their savior. Chapters four and five are about linking the ministry you develop in your home to the community and your church. The final chapter deals with the subject of general personal evangelism, both in and away from the family setting.
This is a hands-on, practical guide. At the end of each chapter is a checklist to use to successfully implement that chapter’s subject into everyday life. The writers draw a clear path to success on each subject. In the earliest chapter on healthy families, the current state of the American family is statistically described. The foundation is laid for the reader to easily understand the frustration felt by most adults regarding their family. We all want our families to be deeply satisfying and successful. Yet the culture we live in today and its demands make that very difficult. The reader can examine their own family using this guide and determine its current level of health or level of “hurried.” The biblical definition of family is then presented in clear contrast to the definition of our culture. We must work toward that biblical definition to find success. Six characteristics of healthy, successful families are presented. They range from spending quality time together, to commitment to each other, to mom and dad’s equal involvement, to the significance of each member, to passing on the “baton of faith” to the next generation, to a family that focuses on God’s purposes for each member. Measuring a family against these standards gives a clear picture of its health based on biblical standards.
The family is encouraged to develop a family mission statement as a “centerline” of it purpose, to help each member stay focused on the task. The life of Christ is presented as support for the idea of a mission statement. The mission of Jesus was to be one who “has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He came to “bear witness to the truth.” He came “not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many.” The mission of Jesus was clear. The mission of our family should be just as easily understood by all.
Chapter three is a very practical guide to helping children of all ages accept Christ, a foundational function of any Christian family. “Parents are God’s plan” for bringing children to Christ! A guide for understanding when a child is old enough for this process is presented as well as a model gospel message. Different approaches are presented for teenagers. Five principles are outlined to “help parents more effectively communicate the gospel to their teens.” Once your children have accepted Christ, a seven element guide to mentoring them is presented. There is a guide to family worship which can be a key to mentoring your children in the Christian faith.
The next two chapters deal with linking your home with the community and your church. Oscar Thompson’s Concentric Circles of Concern are used as a guide for the sharing of your faith from the inside of your family to the outside. There are notes on each of the seven levels of Thompson’s circle. A practical guide to ministering to special needs children is presented as well as easy, how-to steps for ministering to your neighbors as a way of linking your personal and family ministry to your church.
The final chapter may be the most important. If the family is intended to serve as a means of evangelism to our children, the family should also be preparing all of its members to share the love and gospel of Christ to the world. A healthy family is one that “lives God’s commandments and fulfills the Great Commission.” We must prepare ourselves and our children to effectively communicate the gospel as a part of our self-development. The role of prayer and the Holy Spirit are dealt with in detail.
Family to Family is a how-to guide for the building of a successful Christian family-unit. It gives the definition of success, a healthy Christian family, and then shows a clear path to that goal. They practical approach to the subject is easy to follow and logically structured.
Pipes and Lee achieved their intended purpose in Family to Family. Their mission to help “hurried parents who deeply desire meaningful family time” was fulfilled by the approach, content and workbook-like materials. Today’s families feel rushed and pressured, internally and externally. At the same time they are fed with content and how-to materials by the secular world. Pipes and Lee took much the same approach with the goal of a life lasting outcome for families that attempt their biblical method.
The main theme was convincing. The American family “has fallen victim to the American culture” and finds less and less meaning to biblical values and the gospel of Christ without an intentional mission. We plan our meals, plan our day, plan our retirement but rarely put a plan behind the success of our family. While “most adults regard family as their most satisfying aspect of life” few give much thought to planning its success. The underlying theme of the work that a plan is necessary to achieve this success is well supported and convincing in the opening chapters of the book.
There are several presuppositions in the work. The biggest is that the reader has a desire to raise and develop a Godly family. For those of us deep in this study, that is easy to miss. We all likely have that biblical objective. For the secular bookstore customer that may not be the case, other than their purchase of the book implies an interest in the subject. The writers briefly make the case that a biblically based family is best then start to build on that assumption. There is also a lot of church-speak in the work that the writers assume the reader understands. Words such as faith, sovereign and Holy Spirit are used many times. A secular reader may struggle with the implied definitions of these terms. A basic understanding of the Bible is also presupposed by the writers. Many scriptures are used as valid support for the family building method presented. Several different translations are used. This may be confusing to a casual user of the Bible or a reader with no real familiarity with scripture.
The arguments are logical, well supported and convincing. This reader is assumed to accept biblical support as the ultimate source on the subject. Past that assumption, the content is easy to follow, read and put into action. The evidence of the main theme is present in every step of the process. There are simple and logical biblical references for all main points. The writer’s conclusions are that the goal of a health family can be achieved by following the biblical method presented. Using the model of the life of Christ as the ultimate example, this conclusion is logical and well supported. The biblically based historical, theological and literary references teach the reader that the family is a basic need of every person and believer in some form. It is the most important of all institutions. Its success is vital to the success of an individual or to the growth of Christianity.
One weakness of the work is a lack of depth in discussing or better understanding the different belief systems or cultures that compete with the idea of a biblically based family in today’s society. There are several brief references to these conflicts but no real approach to this issue is found that has any real depth. That is certainly a factor in the leadership of a Christian family today and perhaps better a subject for an entirely separate work. It seems a gap unfilled in this presentation.
Family to Family does teach us that a successful family does not occur from chance. God had a plan for the life of Christ. Jesus walked that road and lived that plan here on Earth. We should also have a plan for the most important group of our lives, our family. There is much good content in this book and little bad that this reader could find. The principles and ideas presented here are suited for any person, single or in a large family, who aspires to lead or be a part of a successfully, biblically based family. The steps to success are simple. There are several to understand and follow but just picking one chapter or one idea to implement would bring a very satisfying family-building experience. The book will greatly enhance any reader’s ideas around family and what it truly can become.
Jerry Pipes Evangelistic Website, http://jerrypipesproductions.com. Accessed 4/23/13.
LinkedIn Networking Website, http://www.linkedin.com/jerry. Accessed 4/22/13.
Piper, Jerry and Victor Lee, Family to Family, USA: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999.
 Jerry Pipes and Victor Lee, Family to Family, (USA: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1999) 114.
 Ibid, 6.
 Ibid, 8.
 Ibid, 14.
 Ibid, 25.
 Ibid 27.
 Ibid, 28.
 Ibid, 43.
 Ibid, 48.
 Ibid, 101.
 Ibid, 1.
 Ibid, 5.