January 2006 – Voddie Baucham is hard to ignore. At 6 feet 3 inches tall and 300 pounds, the Houston, Texas, teacher/author is an imposing figure in the pulpit.
But his size isn’t the only thing about Baucham that demands attention. It’s his simple, but persuasive, analysis of what’s wrong in America and how to fix it.
According to Baucham, 36, a return to a Christian consensus of values in America will come only when believers re-evaluate the nature of the church – and more fundamentally – the role of the family as the preeminent disciple-maker of their children.
Baucham contends that God intends for the home to be where Christian children are spiritually nurtured into mature adults who can influence all spheres of life for Christ. At the same time, every new generation of Christian parents must pass their faith on to their own children. He calls the concept “multi-generational faithfulness” and argues that the chain is broken when Christian parents abdicate their discipling duties to church programs.
According to Baucham this lack of discipleship in the home is why statistics show that many young people from church-going homes leave the faith during their college years and why Christianity’s voice in American culture is waning.
In this third installment in a series of interviews with notable Christian culture-watchers, AFA Journal spoke to Baucham after a recent address at Blue Mountain College, a small private school in northeast Mississippi.
AFAJ: Tell me how your own personality, gifts and background have factored into your ministry of applying Scriptural principles to the issues of contemporary culture.
Baucham: The most influential factor in my life was my upbringing. I was raised in a Buddist home in South Central Los Angeles and never even heard the Gospel until I got to college. I was saved in college, then discipled by two football teammates at Rice University. Because I came from a different worldview, I examined Christianity from a broader perspective, not just assuming it was true from the way I was raised. I think having investigated it from that more objective perspective has given me a greater respect for Christianity as a worldview.
It has caused me to analyze things that many Christians who grew up in the church take for granted. So when I see certain behaviors and patterns in the church that are not Biblical, an alarm in me goes off.
AFAJ: In addition to the Scripture, what theologians and writers have influenced your thinking?
Baucham: Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, D.A. Carson and Jonathan Edwards among others.
AFAJ: How do Christians engage the culture without conforming to its values?
Baucham: This is where the family is so important. When you understand multi-generational faithfulness, it’s an idea that completely changes how you view cultural impact. I can look at influencing the culture by going out and getting the right legislation passed or the right person on the school board – and there’s nothing wrong with those things – but the bigger picture of cultural impact is me being a Godly husband and father. So as I am training my children and at the same time part of a larger community of faith that is doing the same, we are equipping a generation, not just to pass good laws, but to be transformed people.
In my opinion, this is what makes the homeschool movement so important. Because you are getting children out of the public school system that has them for 45-50 hours a week and inundates them in this anti-Christian, secular humanistic mentality and into a situation where discipleship is the key to their education. It’s only here that multi-generational faithfulness can take place.
AFAJ: What role does the local church play in changing the culture through multi-generational faithfulness?
Baucham: I believe the church is a family of families. One way we have gone astray is that we see the church as a corporation that breaks us into individual groups. We have something for this group and something for that group and we are breaking families apart when we get to the church house. We’re expecting church programs to disciple our children rather than that happening in the home in the context of the family.
God has given us a mechanism for multi-generational faithfulness and that mechanism is the family. And so one of the things the Church must do is to rediscover and re-emphasize the importance of the family as that discipling agent and build up the family because that is what’s crumbling.
My message is a call for parents and grandparents to disciple their children and grandchildren. This is the answer. God has given the family to preserve the community of faith! If there is a generation that is not discipled, they will not know God. That is the significance of the family. The role of the local church is to come alongside families and help them fulfill their call.
AFAJ: In a recent sermon you referred to a study of youth and religion by the Sociology Department of the University of North Carolina. That study shows that children overwhelmingly practice the religion of their parents as long as they live at home. However you claim that other studies indicate that by the end of their freshman year in college, between 75-88% have left the church. Is there any recapturing this generation?
Baucham: With Christ there is always hope, but currently I don’t see any indication that that will happen. In fact, the institutions of our culture – the public school system, the media, our universities, politics, corporate America, the judiciary – all are perpetuating the acceptance of ungodly practices such as same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
The one hopeful sign I see is that the home-schooling movement is thriving. If there is an answer, I believe that is it.
AFAJ: What particular issues are you watching that you think will dominate our cultural in the future. In other words, where is the front in the culture war?
Baucham: The life issues, including abortion, euthanasia, partial birth abortion. These issues are still critical because the acceptance of them indicates that we are moving further and further down the road of devaluing life. For example, right now I believe we are quickly moving from a discussion about the “right to die” to the “obligation to die.”
These issues of life go right to core of the very nature of man and the very worth and dignity of human beings. Those are at the foundation of every other issue.
AFAJ: Is there a connection between the devaluing of life and the devaluing of the family.
Baucham: Supporters of abortion have always said that when a women doesn’t think she can afford to raise her child, abortion should be a choice. Even in the church we look at a Christian lady with five or six children like she’s committed a crime.
Another thing I’m concerned about is the nature and role of the government in our nation. We have moved so far toward a socialist mentality, largely through our schools, that many people believe with all their heart that it’s the government’s job to take care of people. That misunderstanding impacts many other issues including the role of family.
Voddie Baucham has served on numerous church staffs, and currently serves as an elder at Grace Community Church in Magnolia, Texas. He is an adjunct professor at The College of Biblical Studies in Houston, Texas, and Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. He has authored two books and written for academic journals and magazines. Voddie and his wife Bridget have been married since 1989. They have three children, and currently live in Spring, Texas. For more information, visit www.voddiebaucham.org.