Honestly, there are only three Christian book publishers that I trust to produce quality Christian non-fiction anymore. One of those is Shepherd Press. When I saw the title The Home Team pop up, I was instantly curious and wanted to give it a read. Shepherd Press offered to send me a copy for review purposes and I was delighted to dive into this one. I was very happy to have given it some time and attention.
In our family, we talk a lot about being a team and that's the first reason this particular title caught my eye. We talk about how we all have to work together to accomplish things and to enjoy life. When any one of us are fighting with another, we stop and remind ourselves that we were placed together for a reason and a purpose and so we need to keep on working hard to stick together. Don't get me wrong - it is hard work! But it is good work and it offers great rewards. We like our team and are always interested in learning how to make it a better and stronger one.
Author Clint Archer definitely likes sports and so there are a great many sport-like analogies and stories told to communicate his key points. If you are not a "sports person" don't fret; I am not a sports fan and I had no troubles whatsoever with his stories. I never felt like he was "going off" about a game but skillfully used games and certain athlete's performances to teach how each family member ought to act to benefit the whole unit. His sports analogies/stories were short, to the point, and directly applied to the information that he was trying to pass along. Absolutely do not let the idea that this is a book about sports turn you off. By the later half of the book, he rarely mentions sports at all!
The Home Team: God's Game Plan for the Family is meant to be used as a tool to reformat the family, if you will, into a unit instead of a diverse group of people who just happen to live in the same household for a time. One thing in particular that I found interesting was Archer's admissions that this is a subject he has been and is still growing in. He is quick to say that he is not an expert on family, that he struggles sometimes in his role of providing spiritual headship, and that he still has much to learn. His humble admissions keep the reader asking questions of themselves because if you know the author doesn't necessarily have it all together then it's easier to dialogue and question your own motives and methods as you proceed in building your own family.
On the heels of that last paragraph, it should be quickly noted that his humility doesn't degrade the book into uselessness. Archer is still learning but he has learned and what he shares is practical, useful and is an encouragement to others. He definitely takes a "traditional" (and I would say biblical) approach to the family in holding to the position that the husband is the head of the house and the wife is the helpmeet. I have no issues with this as I believe this to be according to God's complimentary design. While his approach is certainly "conservative" and "traditional", he deviates from many modern conservative Christians in saying that this book is not meant to be a rule book or to provide some sort of checklist for "How to Build Family." He says quite plainly in the Introduction:
". . . [B]efore you read another paragraph or turn another page, please consider Jesus. Do not read this book for another list of ways to do marriage and family better: it's not intended as a rulebook or a checklist. If you read it like that, you will get frustrated and fail. You cannot accomplish any of these principles in this book apart from the Spirit of God applying grace to your failing heart. So seek Jesus and His grace. Then read on." (Introduction, page 11)
In other words, he isn't giving you a How To. He merely intends to lead the family to the Bible to learn what it is that God said the family was supposed to be. Then, by God's grace and gift of wisdom, you need to make personal decisions for your own family which possess the ultimate goal of following God and bringing glory to His name. There is no checklist because we aren't cookie cutter humans. Our families cannot look the same. However, if we are doing it right we are all doing it with the same goal in mind. I see no reason to avoid a similar end. even if the particulars in how we get there look a bit different.
Ultimately, the purpose of Archer's book is to remind us all of our families' goals and purpose in life. That is? To bring glory to the Lord. If we operate by God's "play book" then we will find life more easily enjoyable but not completely devoid of trials either. Focusing our eyes on the Lord and seeking His wisdom is certainly in our best interest and the end result is something to look forward to instead of dread.
I'll let Archer end my post by sharing a quote that I found particularly meaningful as it reminded me that while our families may look different , we each need to keep our eyes on the ultimate prize of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The details all don't matter all of the time but certain details do. (Did you track with that?) Going back to scripture and the Creator of Family is the only way to make things in our individual households work properly. If that is all this book manages to help you remember, then it is a worthy read.
"Define your goals according to God's original design for the family and His specific calling for your family. Then you can work together as a team, depending upon the Holy Spirit to energize and bless that work. You can also judge your successes or failures according to God's standards rather than according to human wisdom, which may change with every generation. You can even enjoy the work of glorifying God as part of the family team, receiving the blessings that come from belonging to and participating in a God-glorifying family." (Chapter 2, Team Basics, page 36)
This one will remain on my book shelf for a re-read.
Many thanks to Shepherd Publishing for sending this book my direction in order to facilitate this review. I received no additional compensation and all opinions are 100% my own.