Clint Archer, The Home Team: God’s Game Plan for the Family (Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2014)
We’re not huge sports people in our homes. I played softball as a boy for about three years but never really got into it. I got on the high school football team in the 9th grade but quit a week or two after because of disinterest. Even my most passionate sport interest, hockey, pales in comparison to some people. Don’t even get me started on my wife who grew up going to the ballet and practicing the piano. Yet, even as non-sports people in our sports obsessed culture, many of us grasp the concepts of sports and team-work and how valuable those concepts are for the workplace for instance. Now, Clint Archer has shown how these sports concepts can be helpful when considering what God’s plan for the family is.
Archer, who is pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in South Africa, uses a number of sports related illustrations to help emphasize the concept that the Christian family is a team. While I’ve always been a more “solo” player, I can certainly grasp the importance and necessity for team dynamics as people come together for common goals. The family, like any other group of people, will only function as strongly as it does as all members work together as a team.
Archer first notes in his introduction, the rules of the game: the emphasis on fundamental “onenness” of the team of husband and wife, the dependence on Jesus Christ for any hope of success in family, the reliance on the Word of God as the authority on the family, and the support of the church in strengthening the family team. Archer then proceeds to address the opponents of the home team that arise from the curse affecting husband-wife relationships, relationships with children, etc. Archer writes, “The Bible teaches that the family is indeed God’s design but that the individual roles within the family are under the curse of sin.” (p. 15). Thankfully, it is not left there in the curse of sin, but the hope of Jesus can help all individual members of the home team to strive together as a team for the glory of God.
Archer goes on to talk about the “game” in what the Bible specifically addresses about families, about the dad’s role as captain, mom’s role as MVP as she assists dad in leading goal scorer, children (little league) and teens (minor league), the solo players who are single, team supporters of those outside the immediate family, and the prayer huddle. The strength of Archer’s book is that he brings these common team images to the role of the family. We all know how imagery and illustration help to get points across (one of the reason, as a pastor, that I use sermon illustrations), and here is the major strength. Take something that the vast majority of the world knows about (sports) and bring it to bear on the most fundamental segment of the world (the family) from a biblical perspective. To use another sports illustration, arches makes a home run on that.
Another strength is addressing family issues that are not normally addressed, like those who are single, and how to see our school and church’s involvement in the growth of our family team. Especially helpful is the continuing renewed interest in family worship/prayer as evidenced in his discussion of the family huddle.
My only suggestion is to make sure to emphasize our success of good “home team” parenting/family life not just in terms of faithfulness, staying within the bounds of our roles, and with our eyes fixed on God, as Archer does in his conclusion. But, to remember that even when we fail, Christ remains successful and faithful for us. Sometimes, we just need the reminder that we’re going to fail. A lot. As a husband and a dad I’m well aware of my failings. But I need not have to live in despair because of my failures, because when I fail as a husband and a father, Christ is still successful for me. When I am unrighteous, He is righteous for me. Let’s remember to emphasize that hope for struggling home teams!
Besides this detail, The Home Team, is a valuable, easy to read volume that will help you connect the dots in being a biblical family for the glory of God through sports imagery. Overall, it’s a hole-in-one. :)