Chapter 1


The steep mountain road seems to go on forever. With each passing glimpse of the valley below and the mountains above, you wonder how God could have created something so beautiful. Then you drive right through the village you have been looking for because it is so small. After you turn around, you stop at the only cafe and ask directions. Even though they speak French and you speak English, they understand. They point you up the road to a large chalet.

When you knock on the door someone opens with a warm-hearted, "Can we help you?" Choking on every word, you give the reason why you are there. The same person asks, "Have you had anything to eat?" At this Christian home they feed the body first. Then they feed the soul.

What is inside this chalet and many others that are in this same village? What has inspired thousands to come, one at a time, to this village that seems to be out in the middle of nowhere? Is it possible that here lies the answers to many questions, including those about home and family? Is it possible that within these warm wooden walls there lies a Christian lifestyle that is a model for the 21st century?

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is two-fold:
     (1) to identify the transferable concepts related to Christian growth taught at L’Abri.
     (2) to propose ways these concepts could be integrated into the Christian home.

Importance of the Study

At the end of the second chapter of Luke, the writer states in verse 52, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men" (NIV). In a very concise manner this verse states that Jesus experienced intellectual growth, physical growth, spiritual growth, and social growth. In other words, Jesus experienced growth in every facet of His life. Every Christian home should emulate this perfect model of Christian growth. How that is to be done in the post-Christian era of today however raises many questions.

This study proposes to closely examine one Christian home that has been, and continues to be, successful in answering those questions. It is called L’Abri Fellowship and it was founded by Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer and his wife Edith Seville Schaeffer. It is important to do this study in order that future generations may have at least one reference point for establishing the Christian homes of tomorrow. This reference point needs to be biblically based and L’Abri has that connection..

Statement of the Problem

The Christian home should be established on a firm foundation of biblical truth — absolute truth. The problem is that the Christian family who will step into the third millenium has been unwittingly secularized. The Bible is slowly being replaced by the latest management manual or psychology book. Truth has become a combination of unreformed 19th century pietism and unbridled 20th century pragmatism. If it works it is truth and if it is truth, then it must be biblical. This is a backwards concept. A return to the Bible first in every facet of Christian growth is still the only road to follow. This study will attempt to walk that road.

Organization of the Study

The first chapter of this study contains an introduction to the subject and an outline for the remainder of the study. For a brief survey of the study, refer to the Table of Contents.

Chapter 2 will consider the written framework of the Bible for Christian growth. References will be provided that coincide with the four areas of growth identified in Luke 2:52.

Chapter 3 will examine the written framework of L’Abri Fellowship. This will be done by briefly surveying the two contents and two realities of L’Abri as they are found in the many books and articles written by Francis and Edith Schaeffer.

Chapter 4 will discuss the structure of L’Abri Fellowship as it relates to fostering Christian growth. It will also provide a personal look into the daily activities or regimen of a guest or student at a branch of L’Abri.

Chapter 5 will briefly summarize the findings of the study. This will be done by presenting ways to apply the transferable concepts of L’Abri to other Christian homes.

The standard bibliography after this fifth chapter contains a complete listing of all the sources for this study in particular. The first appendix after the bibliography will provide information for contacting L’Abri Fellowship. This will also include the audio-visual duplication service. The second appendix will be an unconventional bibliography that is as complete as possible on the works of the Schaeffer family and L’Abri Fellowship. It is provided so that others may do their own research if desired. The third appendix will present examples of worksheets designed to assist the reader in developing a Christian growth management program.

Presuppositions in the Study

It should be understood throughout this study that the writer believes in the divine inspiration and authority of the Scriptures. By this is meant that there was a miraculous guidance of the Holy Spirit in their original writing, extending to all parts of the Scriptures equally. This applies even to the choice of words, so that the result is the very Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Moreover, it is also the conviction of this writer that God has exercised such singular care and providence through the ages in preserving the written Word, that the Scriptures as we know them are in every essential particular as originally given and contain all things necessary to salvation (PCB, 1993).

Limitations of the Study

The study of a ministry that has existed for over forty years and has influenced the lives of many people, could be a very involved project. We will attempt to be as concise as possible in developing those core elements that could become a part of other Christian homes. As a general rule and as much as possible, all instruction and advice will be based on what is taught in the Word of God.

Definitions of Terms Used in the Study

Daily Regimen. A systematic schedule of daily events designed to enhance or foster Christian growth in the individual as well as the group or body.
Dogma. A doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church (Woolf, 1980, p. 334).
Dogmatic. Marked by authoritative, often arrogant, assertion of opinions or beliefs (Landau, 1966, p. 189).
Dogmatism. Positive or arrogant assertion, as of opinions or beliefs (Landau, 1966, p. 189).
Existential. Relating to and dealing with moment-by-moment human existence. Empirical reality as opposed to mere theory (Schaeffer, F.A., 1982 Vol. 1, p.200).
Existentialism. A modern theory of man that holds that human experience is not describable in scientific or rational terms. Existentialism stresses the need to make vital choices by using man’s freedom in a contingent and apparently purposeless world (Schaeffer, F.A., 1982 Vol. 1, p.200).
Framework. Using the analogy of a building as Paul does in 1 Corin. 3:10-15, the foundation is Jesus Christ. What is built on that foundation by faithful hearers and doers of the Word is the framework. With much prayer and supplication to God the Father, it is hoped that this framework will be judged in the end to be gold, silver, and precious stones, and not wood, hay, or straw.
Orthodox, orthodoxy. Conforming to established doctrine, especially in religion (Woolf, 1980, p. 804).
Pietism. A 17th century religious movement originating in Germany in reaction to formalism and intellectualism and stressing Bible study and personal religious experience (Woolf, 1980, p. 862).
Pragmatic. Related to matters of fact or practical affairs often to the exclusion of intellectual or artistic matters: practical as opposed to idealistic (Woolf, 1980, p. 896).
Pragmatism. An American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief (Woolf, 1980, p. 896).
Seen World. That which man can see, smell, taste, hear and touch.
Sine qua non. [LL, without which not]: an absolutely indispensable or essential thing (Woolf, 1980, p. 1075).
Space-Time. A term used by Dr. Schaeffer to simply say that something really happened in a particular place and at a particular time. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was a real space-time event. So was the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. So will be the Second Coming of Christ.
Structure. How a group of individuals are organized into an effective body of believers, each having a separate function that interrelates to the other members.
Transferable Concept. A fundamental principle or rule of conduct that has the following results in the Christian life:
     (1) It guides the Christian through continued spiritual growth and effectiveness in serving the Lord.
     (2) It is so effective that the Christian wants to pass it on (transfer it) to others.
Unseen World. That which man cannot see, smell, taste, hear or touch. That world which is primarily ascribed to God, Satan, angels and demons.

Questions to Be Answered

This study on the transferable concepts of the L’Abri ministry will attempt to answer the following questions:
     1. In what way does the Bible identify how an individual is to grow in the ways of the Lord?
     2. What are the transferable concepts taught at L’Abri?
     3. How does L’Abri Fellowship structure its day-to-day ministry so as to promote the growth of an individual in a biblical way?
     4. How can the concepts taught by L’Abri Fellowship be transferred to other Christian homes?

Areas of Contribution

The results of this study will be beneficial to: (a) Christian homes that are looking for a family structure and daily regimen that works for the immediate family as well as an extended family if opening their doors to others becomes their calling, and (b) Christian Church leaders and counselors who are looking for effective ways to guide the families they shepherd into the 21st century and beyond.

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