Richard Baxter, celebrated author of The Reformed Pastor, realized the strategic importance of shepherding heads of households. If men are won to the Gospel and growing in it, then the work of a pastor is multiplied exponentially. But if we neglect this high calling, then the church will hemhorrage its children, no matter how many hip twenty-something youth pastors we use to stanch the flow.
We must have a special eye upon families, to see that they are well ordered, and the duties of each relation performed. The life of religion, and the welfare and glory of both the Church and the State, depend much on family government and duty. If we suffer the neglect of this, we shall undo all. What are we like to do ourselves to the reforming of a congregation, if all the work be cast on us alone; and masters of families neglect that necessary duty of their own, by which they are bound to help us? If any good be begun by the ministry in any soul, a careless, prayerless, worldly family is like to stifle it, or very much hinder it; whereas, if you could but get the rulers of families to do their duty, to take up the work where you left it, and help it on, what abundance of good might be done! I beseech you, therefore, if you desire the reformation and welfare of your people, do all you can to promote family religion (Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor, p. 91).