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Resource helps families incorporate evangelism, missions into daily life

ATLANTA (BP)–It was about 14 years ago when Perry Pipes first began to see a need for something like “Family to Family,” a new book and curriculum resource he co-wrote with Victor Lee for the North American Mission Board. In his work with students he noticed a distressing disconnect between what the students were learning and what they were seeing at home.
“They would walk up and say, ‘You’ve taught that if I’m going to walk with God I need a daily quiet time. Why don’t I see my mom doing it?” said Pipes, director of NAMB’s ministry evangelism team.
Another student told him, “Jerry, you’re a liar and a jerk. … All week long you’ve been saying Jesus is the only way to get to God. My dad is chairman of the deacons at our church, and from the first day I remember until today, I’ve never once seen my dad go across the street and tell our neighbors about Christ.” The teenager saw his dad as a spiritual role model, but realized that Pipes’ teaching on the importance of sharing one’s faith was not a part of his dad’s life.
“It concerned me that we are teaching kids to do basic stuff that they never see their parents do,” Pipes said. “And that’s one reason why 88 percent of our kids walk out of church after the age of 18 and they never come back.”
Pipes spoke during a conference on the new Family to Family Resource at the North American Mission Board’s Aug. 1-5 Summer State Leadership Meeting in Atlanta.
The large attrition rate is the primary basis for the resource, which helps families develop together the spiritual disciplines that are the basis for developing healthy families. The 88 percent figure is based on evangelist Jay Strack’s experience with top national student leaders. But the good news — based on Pipes’ 23 years of ministry with students and parents — is that when families integrate such disciplines the dropout rate plummets.
“Where Mom and Dad have a sense of God’s purpose for the family, and they are fulfilling that purpose and involving their kids, and they do it together, the dropout rate goes as low as 5 percent,” said Richard Leach, manager of NAMB’s family evangelism team. “A child needs to be saved and they need to go to church, but to really remain involved they need to see it at home.”
Family to Family, which is designed to be taught in a small-group setting over a four-week period, outlines some of the things families can do to build lifelong Christians both at home and throughout neighborhoods and other family circles of influence.
“The centerpiece of the resource is the family mission statement, a written expression of the family’s understanding of God’s unique plan form them,” Leach said. The result, he said, is the realigning of priorities around that purpose, and the discovery of God’s answer for hurried families.
“Family to Family will give churches an opportunity to release families to do evangelism together in their neighborhoods,” Leach said. “And so families can actually become on-mission families where they happen to live, reaching neighbors and reaching other family members with the gospel.”
Among the recommendations, for instance, is to create opportunities for children to see and participate with parents as they actively share their faith. This allows children to naturally develop the same habits without the fear that comes from learning new behavior patterns as they grow older. One way is through a yearly family mission trip. Chris Schofield, NAMB’s manager of prayer evangelism, shared how family mission trips have helped his family become closer and allowed him to mentor his own children.
“For so long in Baptist life we’ve sent the children this way and the parents that way. But when you begin to do it together, it’s something that becomes fun,” he said.
Among other topics addressed in the book are how to deal with modern pressures on family life, leading children to Christ and discipling them, and making evangelism a priority in the home.
Leach suggested that although the resource is essentially about family evangelism, the impetus for the study could come from a variety of organizations within the church, including Sunday school, discipleship training and missions education groups. Whatever the setting, participation of all family members is encouraged whenever possible — making it a resource to bring families together, not separate them. Plans also are in place to market the resource — which includes a video hosted by popular Christian recording artist Steve Green — broadly within the larger evangelical Christian community
“Family to Family” is available through LifeWay Christian Resources as both a complete resource kit and as an individual book. LifeWay’s customer service number is 1-800-233-1123.
Victor Lee, Pipes’ coauthor, is NAMB’s national coordinator of sports evangelism and editor of Interfaith Focus, the quarterly newsletter of NAMB’s interfaith evangelism office. Lee also is a columnist for the Christian magazine Sports Spectrum and editor of The Conservative Record of North Carolina.

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  • James Dotson