A Review of “Raising Kids in the Way of Grace” by Bob Kellemen

I know of very few people who can pull off the breadth of Bob Kellemen’s writing topics. He has made a reputation for himself in the area of equipping counselors, and has two respected books on grief. He has also added a historical analysis of Luther to his resume, and now a short book on parenting. In each volume he demonstrates what makes him a great writer. He is well-read and researched, pastoral in tone, and skilled in instruction. In Raising Kids in the Way of Grace Kellemen demonstrates these qualities once again, providing readers with a great blend of theology and practical advice to guide their parenting.

As with many of his books, Kellemen utilizes a simple teaching method to help the principles of the book sticks with the reader. Here he utilizes the mnemonic device of an acrostic (GRACE) to focus each chapter and simplify the principles. The short book centers around “5 practical marks of grace-focused parenting.” Each chapter, then, corresponds to one letter in the acrostic and aims to provide one of these marks.

The benefit of the book is its blend of theological foundation and practical application. It is not uncommon to find parenting books that do one or the other, but to find both in an accessible format is a bit more difficult. Kellemen notes:

Far too many Christian books on parenting are either/or. Either they focus exclusively on how-to principles, or they focus exclusively on gospel-centered living on the part of the parent. This series and this book blend both. (11)

It’s not enough to simply know the “how-to, we must strive to be godly people. In fact Kellemen asserts that “to become a more powerful parent, we must become a more godly person” (10). And yet, without connecting the dots to the “how-to” parents remain uncertain or confused about how to live out their theology in the context of the daily struggle to raise our kids in the fear and admonition of the Lord. This book is designed to connect the dots from doctrine to practice. At 79 pages it is a short and easy read (I read it all in one sitting), and yet it offers real simple encouragement and help. Don’t let its size fool you, there’s a lot in here that is worth reading.

Kellemen uses, perhaps unsurprisingly, Ephesians 6:4 as the central theme verse of the book. Yet, he avoids a reductionist application of that passage by rooting it within the larger context of Ephesians, and the larger contest of the whole Bible. He helps us see this passage in light of all that the Bible teaches and then applies it with pastoral compassion and wisdom to the unique areas of parental dedication, discernment, devotion, discipline, and discipleship.The book captures the major points of various sections of the content in large print to give readers a good grasp of what’s important, and to make it an easy reference tool to skim after having worked through it.

Raising Kids in the Way of Grace is a wonderful and simple tool for parents. It avoids silly formulas, and proposes principles rooted in Scripture. Bob Kellemen has written yet another wonderful tool for the church and I highly recommend this encouraging read to any struggling parent.

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