The following content is from Voddie Baucham's speech at the 2009 CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit" (what I will refer to, simply, as "MLS" from here on out) on Thursday evening, March 5, 2009: "The Battle for Faith and Family." The original speech is available in full, audio form from ResoundingVoice.com.
I will confess, it took me two listenings plus several readings of detailed notes from the speech before I think I understood the relationship between the content of Baucham's message and the title.
When I finally saw that relationship, I realized it might be helpful to share the final words of his speech at the beginning of my post rather than at the end.
So here is his summary/conclusion:
We're in the midst of a crisis of faith and family that has manifested itself in both the church and the home. And ironically, both [the church and the home] have undermined the home. Why? The home is the place where God forges leaders for the church. The home is the place where Paul told Timothy to go and look for men who were qualified for leadership in the church.And so, with that summary/overview/conclusion in mind, I think you may find it easier than I did to understand where Baucham is going. . . .
The home is the place that fortifies and carries on and undergirds what is being taught in the church. The home is the place that has more time, more opportunity, and more relational clout [than does the church] as it relates to the discipleship of the next generation.
So what the enemy has done is very skillful. He has taken a scalpel and drawn a line of separation between these two entities. And, as a result, he's weakened them both.
Our churches are not as strong because we're not calling elders based upon the qualifications that we see in their homes.
[And o]ur homes are not as strong because we're not part of churches that have elders who are modeling for us what we ought to be and to do and to teach.
Interesting: Baucham begins his speech by identifying himself with a movement, the family-integrated church movement.
"I am a pastor of such a church," he says. And he then explains what such a church--his church--looks like. It is
committed, absolutely committed--in our structure, in our doctrine, in our practice, in our philosophy--to a very simple principle: we look men in the eye and say, "I double-dog dare you to disciple your family and we are not going to do anything structurally to put a net under you. It's your job. We'll equip you, we'll encourage you, we'll hold you accountable, but nothing we do here will take that job out of your hands. That's who we are. That's how we exist. That's our mission. That's our focus.And with that, he is off to the races.
So, just for the sake of full disclosure, let me tell you that I am speaking to you as a pastor, a church planter, of a family integrated church about this issue of the battle for faith and family.
Most people in America today, when they speak of a crisis, think in terms of economics. But "that's not our most significant crisis," says Baucham. "Not by a long shot. Our most significant crisis is a biblical crisis, a worldview crisis."
He lists some statistics to back his claim:
- "Less than 10% of professing Christians in the United States possess a biblical worldview. And only 51% of pastors in America have a biblical
- Two-thirds of Christians in the United States assert that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
"These people say they are born-again. And two-thirds of them say there is no such thing as absolute moral truth. It makes you wonder what they think they're saved from."
- "Only four out of 10 [professed Christians] say they are absolutely committed to the Christian faith."
- "Only 44% of church youth say humans are capable of grasping the meaning of truth. In other words, the majority believe truth is unknowable."
- "85% of church youth agree with the statement that what is right for one person in a given situation may not be right for another person who encounters the exact same situation.
"That would be situational ethics. Relativism. That's 85% of church youth."
- Less than 5% of the teens today identifying themselves as Christian [these are the church youth!] are theologically literate enough to be called Christian.
- "62% of them agree with the statement, 'Nothing can be known for certain except things that you experience in your life.'"
- "The majority of teens who identify themselves as Christians believe that Jesus sinned during His earthly ministry."
- "62% of them agree with the statement, 'Nothing can be known for certain except things that you experience in your life.'"
In essence, says Baucham, this--the confused, weak worldview, readily abandoned by so many professing Christians--is the biggest crisis the church faces today.
And from where does this crisis arise?
Baucham urges these three sources:
- Pastoral Laxity.
- Multigenerational Failure.
- Parental Impotence.
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you--if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.What are the qualifications Paul lists for a man to become an elder (and, therefore, by extension, a pastor)? Is it a man's academic training? (No.) Is it his ability to preach? (No.) How good his family looks when they stand together? (No.) Rather, it is how he interacts with his family
Paul doesn't demand a perfect marriage; otherwise we wouldn't need 1 Peter 3:7--"live with your wives in an understanding manner."
[All w]e are talking about [is] a man who knows what it means to be a biblical husband and a biblical leader of his wife, and a biblical shepherd of his wife, even during their difficult days.To be qualified as an elder, a man doesn't need to have perfect kids, either, Baucham affirmed. Rather, "He keeps his children in subjection. [He c]ontinues to discipline [them]."
We don't have to find "perfect" men to serve as elders and pastors; rather, we need "men who can serve as model fathers" and models of godliness. "For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and
And here's the problem:
Most churches never, ever, ever look at a man's marriage or the discipleship of his children. Most churches call a pastor without ever having met his wife or children. Their only question is, "Can he preach?" "Has he grown another church of this size to be bigger?" "Does he look good behind our pulpit?" "Does he have the right credentials?" "Will he help attract the kind of people we're trying to attract?" The only question they have about his wife and kids is, "Do they look good standing with him?" --That's it.But, of course, that is exactly opposite what Paul teaches. For Paul, it is only after the issue of character--as it is demonstrated in the home--that the issues of preaching and teaching (in terms of "holding fast to the trustworthy word
If we can't get past model husband, model father, godly ChristianRecapitulating the key points Baucham seeks to draw from Titus 1:5-11:
character . . . ,who cares if [a pastoral candidate is] articulate?
- The family is the primary teaching unit in the New Testament.
- The shepherd's job
is . . .
- To be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3).
- Of being a model husband.
- Of being a model father.
- Discipling your children and your wife.
- Of being a godly man. . . .
- Of being a model husband.
- To equip.
- To encourage men concerning "what we're supposed to be doing in our homes."
- To be an example to the flock (1 Peter 5:3).
In other words, the pastor's job is not to be the one who does all of these things. But he's selected because he models what we are all supposed to be doing in our homes.Baucham reminds his audience of Swanson's reference to Deuteronomy 6:7 (where godly parents are told of their responsibility to teach their children the word of God at all times and in all circumstances: "when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you
That's the responsibility of an
elder. . . .
Whose responsibility is it to raise and train and disciple your children? It is yours. It is yours.So much, for now, on pastoral laxity.
It is a pastoral responsibility to equip the saints for works of service
. . .not to usurp these saints or the saints' authority or responsibility. Not to do what the saints are called to do.
You're called to disciple your family.
As a pastor, I'm called to model and to teach and to encourage and to hold heads of household responsible and accountable for teaching in their homes. That's my job. Not to set up structures that are meant to alleviate the responsibility. That's not my job. That's not what I'm called or commanded to be.
Baucham mentions that this is going to be his last speech before turning 40. I mention that (and he mentions that) in order to identify who he is talking about when he says,
The generation before mine taught us: "You are successful as a parent if you give your kid more stuff than your parents gave youBaucham then quotes from Psalm 78:5-8 (ESV):
. . .and give them an education that will enable them to give your grandkids more than you gave them." That's successful parenting in our culture: Give them more than you got and give them an education that will enable them to give their kids more than you gave them. . . .
Notice. There's nothing there about walking with God. . . . That's why, when [most people in our culture] buy a house, [we] ask, "How are the schools in this
area?" . . .
What are we asking [when we ask this question]? Are we asking about the character that the[se schools] will forge in our children?
We are saying, "What are the test scores in the schools in this neighborhood?" And, "Are they going to get my kid into the kind of schools that I want my kid to go to for college?" --That's all we're asking.
And so we'll pay $50,000 more to live over here than it costs to live over there.
Why? Test scores.
God help us!
That's the mindset.
And the result of it is a generation without direction, that's completely floundering and lost.
He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children,"That's what the last generation neglected. And so we are reaping the whirlwind."
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
And this, then, leads
Why are parents impotent? Because they were educated by "a Marxist, secular humanist system." They "learned to depend on the government for everything" and they are "waiting for certification, permission and instruction for everything."
Think about the questions people ask you when they find out you homeschool:And it is at this point that Baucham protests the behavior of the parents he identifies as "Marxist, secular humanists disguised as Christians" by commenting that "They are not [homeschooling] for worldview reasons.
They all ask the same questions. It's a running joke in the homeschool community because nobody asks any other questions. And their questions all go back to certification, permission, and instruction.
- "Is that legal?" "Can you do that?" "What do you have to do to do that?"
They always have a question about legality. Why? Because that's their mindset.
- "Where do you get your curriculum?" "Who do you report to?" "Are you tested regularly?"
Where's that coming from? That's statism! That's Marxist socialism.
And then, to go all the way over the edge to socialism:
- "What about your children's socialization?"
In other words, they're admitting that they see the school system as responsible for discipling their children: "How are you getting away with not letting the government disciple your children?"
Because they're Marxist, secular humanists to the core disguised as Christians. That's
why. . . .
The homeschool movement is now rife with parents who
"Tell me what to do."
- do not know their roles
- do not have a vision for their families
- are afraid to lead.
Baucham closes his speech with "a little shock therapy."
When [people] say they can't do [some]thing, I say, "You racist, you!" [NOTE: Baucham is a black man. --JAH]I'm not sure why Baucham, a Southern Baptist preacher who pastors a fairly substantial congregation, seems to advocate home churches. But it appears he does. And it appears he urges the men who were present at the MLS to consider starting home churches themselves and not to use the excuse that they lack viable models to follow.
And they look at me: "Wha-?!??"
[And I answer,] "If I took you to Africa or Asia or South America, and we preached the gospel and some people got saved, you'd spend two weeks there and find one of the guys with God's hand on him, and you'd say, 'Now, you're the pastor and this is your church.'
"But you're saying that God is not good enough for you. --You racist!"
[There are] guys pastoring churches all over the world who don't know half the knowledge, information, or expertise of some of these whining Christians in America who will not start a church.
[And why won't they start a church]? Because we've been brainwashed. We're waiting for certification. We're waiting for permission. We're waiting for instruction.
. . .Instead of opening up the Bible, looking at the qualifications found [there] and getting started. . . .Now does that mean we go run off into anti-intellectualism? . . . Listen, I have more degrees than a thermometer. But none of that matters as much as [the Titus 1 requirements for elders].
But here's the other thing: Do you know how many schools we have access to just on the internet? Do you know how many books we have access to? Who says you can't be self-taught?
Here's what's ironic. Some of these same families, they sit there, and they're homeschooling their children, right? So all of a sudden they've been liberated. They've left the plantation. "Yes! We can educate our children!" And they defend their right to homeschool: "My child doesn't have to go to the institution. We can educate them right here." But we say, "Go and be a pastor," and they say: "Oh, no! I've got to go to the institution for that!"
What happened to all your homeschool principles?
"You want to know a person without models?" he asks.
I didn't hear the gospel until my first year in college. I was raised by a single, teenage, Buddhist mother in drug-infested, gang-infested, south-central Los Angeles, California.The antidote to this kind of impotent thinking and behavior?
. . .Last two generations, both sides of [my wife's and my] family: 25 marriages, 22 divorces. . . .[O]ut of my 25 first cousins, I only have one who is currently married to and living with his spouse. . . .[M]y maternal grandmother had seven children from five different men and my paternal grandmother and grandfather lived next door to each other and had three children and were not married one day. . . .And you have the audacity to ask me that question . . . ?!?
Here's the problem: "What if I do it wrong?" That's the fear: "If I don't have instruction, if I don't have certification, and if I don't have permission, I might do it wrong."
Doing it wrong is better than not doing it.
Come on, how big is your God?
In six days, He created the universe. But you try to disciple your family with the Bible and He can't handle that!?
I can just see God in heaven going, "Oh, my . . . !"
The angel comes up to Him and says, "What's happening?"
"Oh! That family down there. They really love Me and they're trying to disciple their children, but they got Step 2 out of place. I can't help them."
That's how we act.
One: Biblically qualified pastors.
Two: Mature brothers and sisters in the faith.
And three: Discipleship-oriented homes.
The average individual gets 14,000 instructional hours in school. If you spent four [instructional] hours a week in church--two hours Sunday morning, an hour Sunday evening, plus an hour on Wednesday night--it would take you 70 years to match that.
If you got only two instructional hours a week in church, it would take you 140 years!
And we treat church like it's the only place where we combat the secular teaching in the public schools?
No. Give me the 14,000 hours, thank you very much!
That's what I want. I want the 14,000 hours [so I can disciple my kids at home].
[It is at home] where the discipleship is taking place. Plus the time we have in the Lord's house.
For me, this, what I have shared with you, is the heart of Baucham's message.
However, knowing that I have several female readers who are concerned about any potential anti-women messages that may have been communicated at the MLS, I thought I should share this final thought that came up somewhat close to the end of his speech.
Fact is, Baucham continued into Titus 2, very briefly.
His primary message, as I recall, was to note, once more, how central the home is to all that Paul intends the church to accomplish.
And so, in the midst of his brief discussion of the first section of Titus 2, Baucham asks, rhetorically, why we find all the detailed instruction for women (Titus 2:3-5) and so little for the men (composed, solely, of, "Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled").
His answer? "That's because he already covered it in chapter 1."
"But isn't chapter 1 concerned solely with the qualifications for elders?"
Let me go through that list again (starting in verse 6) and raise your hand if you don't want any one of these things for your sons: above reproach; husband of one wife; children believers, not open to charges of debauchery or insubordination; above reproach (again); not arrogant; not quick-tempered; not a drunkard or violent or greedy; hospitable; a lover of good; self-controlled; upright; holy; disciplined; holding from to the word; able to give instruction in sound doctrine. . . .
Don't fool yourself: Elders are not a separate category of person. They are examples of what all of us are called to be. They are chosen based on their ability to do what all of us are called to do and to model it for the rest of us as we all go and do it together. That's the job of an elder. That's the function of an elder. Every one of us ought to raise our sons with this in mind: "I'm going to raise my son so that the only thing missing from him as far as qualifications for an elder is the call of God." That's it. Everything else, we're going to aim for, we're going to push for.
As with Kevin Swanson's speech before his, I found the majority of Baucham's speech encouraging, inspirational, thought-provoking and challenging. "Yeah! I want to do something! 'Let's go!'"
- The statistics he shares about professing Christians' belief systems disturb me greatly: just as they obviously disturb him. I am fully aligned with him in his concern.
- His suggestion that the average evangelical church fails to look at or consider a pastoral candidate's family and family relationships as either qualifications for or against his candidacy: that bothers me. (Is his claim true? I don't know. If it is, however, that is deeply unsettling.)
- His emphasis on the legitimate role of the pastor: to provide a model for the congregation, to teach and to encourage parents in their discipleship responsibilities: I love it! (Indeed, this has been a pet peeve of mine: that the professional staff in so many churches seems intent on "doing it all"; they hardly permit--much less encourage--members of the congregation to do the various works of service to which they may be called and for which they are uniquely gifted. No. The institutional church, in these cases, is all about the institutional church. (Kind of like so much of the mass media today is all about the mass media and what the "celebrities" are doing.) It is wonderful to hear a pastor speak up for, as it were, "the little guy."
- His analysis of our cultural values: that each generation is supposed to give its children more "stuff" than the generation before gave them
. . .and prepare their children to give the grandkids "even more": Brilliant!
- I loved, too, his parsing of the "How are the schools?" question that--as he rightly points out--impacts the basic desirability of a house and/or a neighborhood. "Right on!" How sad that our culture asks first, foremost, and almost exclusively, about test scores and not about the character of the students. Indeed, how sad (as I've observed) that so many parents in our culture assume they can do nothing about--they can do nothing to shape--their children's (and their children's friends') characters. It breaks my heart.
- His analysis of what he calls the "Marxist, secular humanist" mindset: again, brilliant! --I don't know if he has the name or title quite right. (Is that really what Marxism and secular humanism teach?) But the idea of everyone "waiting for certification, permission and instruction for everything": Whew! I have few doubts he's pegged a major problem. I would far prefer Christians had the self-confidence (and/or God-confidence!) to move forward with whatever-it-is the God has placed upon their hearts.
- I appreciate and agree with his analysis of the bare time involved when people send their kids off to classroom schools. It really does make sense to me that we parents should want to increase the biblical influence in our children's lives and, if at all possible, we should desire not to place their education in the hands of people whose values and worldviews are wholly antithetical to our own.
With all of these truly insightful and encouraging viewpoints, the more I have thought about what Baucham says, the more uncomfortable I have become with certain--usually somewhat more subliminal or slightly too far/"over-the-top"/extreme--messages he threw in. For example,
- He explains what his FI (Family-Integrated) Church (or FIC for shortest) is all about by quoting what he and others at his church say to husbands/fathers who visit: "[We] double-dog dare you to disciple your family and we are not going to do anything structurally to put a net under you. It's your job. We'll equip you, we'll encourage you, we'll hold you accountable, but nothing we do here will take that job out of your hands."
I am thrilled with the idea that the church will equip and encourage and hold parents accountable in this area. I understand the need to avoid putting a net over a man or woman or parental couple who have determined to disciple their children (i.e., that the church will do everything in its power never to discourage parents in these tasks or to limit parents' ability and desire to train up their children in the way they should go).
But "no net under" such parents? "[M]y job
. . .[is n]ot to set up structures that are meant to alleviate the responsibility . . .for teaching" or training?
It seems to me that we are called to "bear one another's burdens (and thus fulfill the law of Christ)"
. . .(Galatians 6:2). Aren't we? So how does this "no net" idea help fulfill this "law of Christ"?
- As noted above, I think Baucham has a vital message to any church that would dare offer leadership roles to men (or women) whose leadership or involvement in their own families is less than exemplary. It would be an absolute travesty if a church were to offer the role of eldership to men or women who are married and/or who have children
. . .and these candidates have lousy relationships with their spouses and/or refuse to offer appropriate discipline to their children--as if these qualifications are of no account.
However. I got the sense that Baucham was saying something very much stronger than I have, here.
Indeed, I got such a strong sense of what he seemed to be saying--and he said it so convincingly and well--that I began questioning a decision that our own church is about to make concerning a change in pastoral staff: should it hire a mid-20s-something young man to serve as a senior pastor if he has no children and is, in fact, unmarried? After all, "No need, even, to ask, 'Can he preach?' If we can't get past model husband, model father
. . .who cares if he's articulate?"
I'm just saying: I began to question the idea of hiring a young, single pastor on the grounds of Baucham's message alone: "'We need to see how a man treats his wife and how he disciples his kids before we can consider him for a role as pastor or elder. He has to serve as a model concerning how married men should treat their wives and kids.' --And, obviously, this man, unmarried and childless, cannot possibly serve as such a model. Therefore, [I was beginning to think], he must be unqualified."
But then I got thinking: Where does that kind of thinking lead?
- "Only a married man can serve as an elder."
- "Only a married man with children can serve as elder."
- "No single men can serve as elders."
- "No men who have not had children can serve as elders."
- "No one but a married man with children can serve as a church-planter."
- "No one but married men can serve as missionaries."
- "No women can serve as elders."
- "No women should serve as missionaries or church-planters."
- "It doesn't matter if a man is a paragon of virtue, mature, humble, slow to anger, temperate, gentle, generous, hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, disciplined, holding firmly to God's trustworthy word, able to give instruction in sound doctrine, able also to rebuke those who contradict it: he cannot serve as an elder unless he is married with children."
- "It is possible that only Peter, of all the apostles, was properly qualified to serve as a missionary or church-planter. (After all, he is the only one among the apostles that we know, for sure, was married! --Mark
1:30)" . . .
. . . And it was about here (if not several points up from here!] that I realized there is something crazy about where this kind of thinking leads.
What are we supposed to make of Paul's suggestion that "it is good for [the unmarried and widows] if they remain even as I" (1 Corinthians 7:8)? And what of Jesus' statement about eunuchs "for the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 19:12)? Are we to believe that Jesus was misusing language, here, and that He really meant to say that any sexually pure man or woman, hetero- or homosexual, who refused to marry (obviously: a member of the opposite sex), could not possibly serve in God's Kingdom? [I don't see how you can find such a message in that passage! Indeed, I see the
opposite. . . .]1 *****
I haven't come to full answers to the questions that have now been raised in my mind as a result of thinking about what Baucham says at this point in his speech. I have not gotten involved in--haven't read up on--the debates I have (just now, in the last few days) realized are (or, at least, I am given to understand, must be) raging between partisans related to (what are the organizations' names?) the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (CBMW) and Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) (???; maybe there are other such organizations, but, for some reason, these two organizations came up in my hunt for organizations that, apparently, believe, pretty much, opposite perspectives concerning most (??) of the issues related to how men and women (or, perhaps more accurately (????) husbands and wives (???)) are "supposed" to interact (???). [Please forgive all the question marks. But, as I said a moment ago, this is not an area in which I have spent any time reading or studying!)
Despite my disclaimer, however, in a manner similar to what I wrote in Perspectives on an Evolving Creation, 4b, it disturbs me to find ourselves, possibly thoughtlessly and foolishly, on the verge of rejecting whole swaths of our spiritual heritage
. . .because many of the apostles themselves seem not to have "lived up" to the standards being advocated by men like Voddie Baucham in the speech he gave at the CHEC 2009 "Men's Leadership Summit."
- "Only a married man can serve as an elder."
- The whole issue of "parental impotence" and parents who do not know their roles, do not have a vision for their families, are afraid to lead, and are homeschooling for safety and higher test scores rather than worldview reasons.
For some reason, Baucham--and, I expect, Swanson and Phillips and others--are "down" on these parents. They want the full disdain and pressure of the church [the "spiritual" equivalent of "the full faith and credit of the United States"] to be brought to bear on these "Marxist, secular humanists [who are] disguised as Christians."
Those are fighting words! Heavy words! The kind Jesus reserved for the hyper-religious of His day: y'know, the Pharisees and Sadducees and teachers of the Law
. . .but never (that I recall) with the "sheep without a shepherd," the lost, the weary, the heavy-laden.
But I get the feeling Baucham is using those very words not to address the hyper-religious and self-righteous. No. He uses them to describe--and, in many ways, to address--the ones who are lost and without a shepherd.
Rather than appealing to these people who are at least groping for a better way, it seems he is chastising them, telling them they are no good, worthy of condemnation, worthy of being "cast into the outer darkness," as Jesus might have expressed the same kind of judgment.
May I suggest a "better way" (or, at least, the way I would prefer to see Baucham and his friends to use)?
Rather than proclaiming, as R.C. Sproul, Jr. does,2 the "growing divide" in homeschool circles between those he proudly identifies as "movement homeschoolers"--who homeschool "because we believe it to be the Biblical choice, not because we merely prefer it"--and the "different bunch of folks" whom he disdainfully claims "typically are
. . .moms [who] see homeschooling as a choice, an arena wherein they can excel by helping their children excel"-- . . .I would like to urge them to appeal to these parents and "show them a better way."
I think they have the statistics and the examples that can readily convince the weak and wobbly. But rather than beat up these "weaker brethren" for their (alleged) failure to live up to the exact same standards that these super-spiritual "leaders" have attained, why not appeal to them as "ambassadors for Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:20) and seek to draw them as God did (and still does): with bonds of love (Hosea 11:4)?
1 ETA on 4/6/09 at 8:00 p.m.: At dinner tonight, Sarita pointed out that Jesus Himself was a single man. Would he be disqualified to serve as an elder? Return to text.
2 I found this quote in the eighth paragraph below the "Part 13" subhead in ThatMom/Karen Campbell's 13-part article The Pros and Cons of the Family Integrated Church Model and Movement. Return to text.
Next post in this series: CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit," Part IV - "A Vision for the Family".