During the first several years in the family ministry conversation, there were drastically opposing views with the most drastic opinions calling for the disbandment of local church youth ministry. Four years ago the growing concern with discipleship in the local church took a decided turn for the good with the release of ApParent Privilege by Steve Wright. Wright, a seasoned veteran local church youth pastor and parent of three teenagers, offers this follow-up to ReThink that raises the stakes for parents and church leaders everywhere. Wright begins with a strong statement of parental responsibility and influence in the lives of their children. “For years parents have bought into a lie that the greatest influences in their children’s lives are peers, media, and others outside of the home” (17). Wright maintains that it just is not true. The foremost purpose of this book is the primacy of parental discipleship in the home. Wright weaves this core biblical principle throughout the entire book.
Wright is quick to explain that the landscape has drastically changed. He outlines the new landscape in four ways that parents must never cease evaluating: shifting battleground, shifting morals, shifting to a Post-Christian nation, and shifting adolescences (31–38). Two of the evil one’s greatest tools for destroying families are ignorance and denial. Wright calls parents to be aware of the shifting landscape of a culture that caters to their children.
Capturing the intent of Deuteronomy 6, Wright outlines the power of words in the faith growing process with children. He contrasts this with the oppositional voices that are speaking to children and is quick to point out that those voices are now coming from more subversive means, especially the Internet. Internet media should rightly raise a great concern as it is often unmonitored. Wright calls parents “to fight to keep the battle outside the home” (32) by being vigilant to guard what they allow to penetrate the walls of their home.
To ensure parents and church leaders keep the matter centered, Wright is faithful to lay out a robust biblical foundation for each element, beginning with a concise theology of family. This commitment to biblical foundations is the key that launches this book to the forefront of parenting resources.
ApParent Privilege hammers home several important issues for the Christian parent. As parents travel down the road of leading the family, they should remember the following key points. First, Wright asserts that model parenting is the difference between good parenting and godly parenting (64). The missing element that makes a good parent a godly parent is a daily, authentic Christian walk. Wright states that “Christian parents must take hold of the incredible privilege of modeling” (66) that Christian walk.
Parents must not only serve as models but also partner with the church. It is often overlooked in Deuteronomy 6, but the Shema commands the attention of the nation with the words, “Hear therefore, O Israel” (v.3). Just prior to Moses commanding parents to disciple their children, he calls the attention of all God’s people. As Wright supports, godly parenting requires the family and church to work together as God intended. According to Wright, this requires placing “equal importance on family and church” (99).
Last, Wright directs the call to godly parenting squarely where it must be directed—to fathers. Take a look at this passage in Malachi 4:6: “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” The final word in the Old Testament has everything to do with fathers and their children. In a similar fashion, tucked away at the end of chapter 8, Wright hits every dad right between the eyes. Every dad in the church must read these words, “our career really isn’t our job” (146). Wright has accurately called fathers to recalibrate their understanding of their primary job as fathers and career men. This reversal of priority has robbed families of the power of a father’s presence. Wright follows this up with a solid reproducible brief job description for dads.
It’s imperative that every senior pastor, youth pastor, and children’s pastor get this book into the hands of every parent possible. ApParent Privilege is a foundational resource for every local church family ministry.
[Editor's Note: This review originally appeared in The Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry 2.2.]