This is another book which promotes the Family Integrated Church Movement (FICM). Baucham is a national speaker for this movement. There are many good things in this book and it would not be alarming if it only spoke of being better parents and families, and churches paying more attention to the family. But it goes well beyond those. Its proposition is that the church must not segregate family members into classes of any kind: nursery, Sunday School, and especially youth groups. This violates the father’s divine responsibility to evangelize and disciple his children; it is a violation of the biblical model; it has been destructive to families in the past; and it promotes an ungodly worldview. Though Baucham tries hard to be congenial toward those who disagree, these things remain convictions, not just preferences.
Almost all Christians would agree that parents have first responsibility for their children and that they should not relinquish that to anyone else, including the church. But it does not follow that the church has no responsibility in teaching those children also. In fact, it has specific commands to teach its converts (Matt. 28:18-20; Tit. 2:1-7). I find these weaknesses in the integrated family movement: there is still no specific command in the New Testament NOT to separate family members for any reason; the NT examples can be taken either way; it practically places the family above (if not against) the local church in evangelizing and educating; it caricatures the traditional church with a myriad of bad examples; it turns biblical examples from one age into mandates for another age (Baucham does this constantly and then criticizes others who do it, see p. 181).
My main contention is that it does not follow that a Sunday School class violates a father’s responsibility to disciple his children. For example, at one place (p. 211) Baucham promotes the idea of a one-room school house. Does every father go with his children and stay there all day? If not, how is that NOT a violation of the integrated principle but a Sunday School class is? If, as he consistently promotes, the father has sole responsibility in this area, when can the wife disciple children? That is never quite addressed. I do not see that a Bible class usurps a father’s authority over his child. A father ought to choose a church with this in mind, of course, and allow the church to help him in this responsibility. If he cannot trust the teacher or the class, he should not be in that church.
Baucham calls this new approach a reformation, a radical departure, a biblical mandate, a revival or spiritual awakening, a paradigm shift. If our church members agree with it, they will have to, by conviction, sit out of all classes in our churches. They may not think of it as a protest but it is. Can that be done constitutionally?