The Family God Uses – a book review

Family God Uses.jpgAbout the Book

The divide between generations has never been greater. In The Family God Uses, the Blackaby family provides churches and families with a tool to intentionally bring families back together by challenging them to creative involvement in ministry and missions. Through the stories of Christian families who have accepted God’s challenge to be involved in His kingdom work locally and around the world, your family will be inspired to work together and serve together with Christ in the center. Your family will see the possibilities of what can happen through them as you seek the Lord together.

About the Authors

Tom_Blackaby.jpgTom Blackaby – Tom Blackaby was born in California but grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada where his father Henry T. Blackaby pastored Faith Baptist Church and developed the material for Experiencing God. He holds a bachelor of education degree from the University of Saskatchewan, an master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a doctor of ministries degree from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. Tom has served as associate pastor of music/youth/education in four churches and most recently for seven years as senior pastor of North Sea Baptist Church in Stavanger, Norway. He served four years as national worship consultant for the Canadian National Baptist Convention and currently serves as director of international ministries for Blackaby Ministries International. Tom has coauthored The Man God Uses, Anointed to Be God’s Servants, The Blackaby Study Bible, Encounters with God Daily Bible; has written four years of devotional articles for Home Life magazine; and most recently authored The Family God Uses together with his wife, Kim.

Kim_Blackaby.jpgKim Blackaby’s commitment to God has taken her from church planting in a small Saskatchewan community to pastor’s wife of three churches, from working with children’s and music ministries to developing women’s ministry, leading Bible studies, and sharing what the Lord has taught her with others. It has taken her from Canada to an international church in norway and from small assignments to larger ones. With each step she has fallen more in love with and in awe of the One who first called her to Him as a teenager.

Tom and Kim have three children and currently live near Vancouver, Canada.

My Review

I’ll have to admit that when this book arrived I was skeptical. I didn’t enjoy Experiencing God, by the author’s father (yes, out of the umpteen millions, I was one of the very few). However, once I sat down and started reading The Family God Uses: Leaving a Legacy of Influence, I was impressed. Tom & Kim Blackaby do a fine job of providing immensely practical advice to families – parents – on how to leave a lasting legacy of godliness to those who come after them. After exploring God’s design for families and how God uses the family to build the church, this husband and wife team get to the hands-on material. Drawing upon their own experience growing up (especially Tom’s life as a pastor’s kid), they provide many vignettes to illustrate the principles laid out to each family. The aim of the book is to help families be far more intentional in fulfilling God’s purpose for families: to pass on the Gospel.

I appreciated the fact that the Blackabys challenged families to involve themselves in the life of their local church and in missions efforts around the world. They provide lots of practical resources (both organizations and projects) for families to use. As a pastor, I can tell you, when I read a book that challenges families today to get involved in the life of their local church, rather than staying at home and “doing church” on your own, I want to stand up and cheer.

If I had any negative critique of the book it would be threefold:

1. The authors talk about the family as God’s pattern for the Church.

While I understand what they’re saying, I’m troubled theologically by their understanding. As I read Ephesians 5, regarding husbands and wives, I see that Christ and His bride, the Church, are the pattern for marriages everywhere. Carry this out logically, and the same should be true for families: Christ & His Church are our pattern to follow (even as Paul shows in the context which flows on into Ephesians 6.1–4). When anyone begins to switch this pattern around, even in as positive a light as the Blackabys do in this work, I get nervous. It’s too tempting to put us first – man ahead of Christ. And this has always led to trouble later on, in subsequent generations. So, this is a caution.

2. I’m currently reading a book on family: Gospel-Powered Parenting by William P. Farley. It’s an excellent book precisely because it has the gospel at the center of all that family is to be about. I wish that the Blackabys could have done this more. It’s not that they don’t include Scripture and the gospel in their presentation; I just had to keep telling myself “This is the gospel here, isn’t it?” Maybe I’m dull and simple and just like it on the page in a more blatant fashion, but this would have raised this book even higher in my esteem for it.

3. I wish there weren’t as many references to the family upbringing as there were here. As a pastor, I almost wondered how a non-pastorally raised family would perceive some of the vignettes and anecdotes. I thought that many of the examples narrowed that target audience down to just families in ministry. However, I have to remember that my perspective is skewed somewhat because of my role in ministry. How much better would it have been for the authors to gather other insights from other families not in ministry.

I don’t think these three marks are anything to keep someone from purchasing this book (which may be done through New Hope Publishers). The large load of practical advice will help make this a worthwhile read and tool in the hands of families.

This book was provided for review purposes by New Hope Publishers.

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