Do Your Children Believe // Terence Chatmon

Read the Bible.

Go to church.

Pray.

Some pretty standard answers that are given when asked what we should do to grow in our relationship with God. All are pretty good indicators that we are moving in the right direction and are generally accepted as steps all followers of Jesus should be taking.

In the opening pages of his book Do Your Children Believe?, author Terence Chatmon shares this statistic:

“. . . the hard truth remains that fewer than 10 percent of Christian families ever really engage with one another for the express purpose of encouraging or informing their growing faith. And not 1 percent could show you any kind of written plan that even briefly describes the spiritual direction they’re praying for and working together toward.”

So while we know we should read the Bible and pray, it seems that the majority of families do not practice those things together.  Into that gap of knowing verses doing (especially in the context of the family), Chatmon offers his insights.

Now normally the emotion that is associated with Bible reading and prayer seems to be guilt.  Guilt that we don’t read enough.  Guilt that we don’t pray enough.  Guilt that we aren’t consistent in either arena. Chatmon doesn’t pile onto that feeling of inadequacy.  Instead he shares his journey of how this became a priority in his life, even admitting that for a number of years he was not actively involved in doing what he writes about. He mentions multiple times that he doesn’t have it all figured out nor is he an expert. He confesses that he is not a Biblical scholar, but has in recent years taken seriously the role of leading his family.  From that experience and obvious passion he offers his thoughts.

In the chapters of the book the author offers ideas on identifying each family’s values, crafting a vision and a mission along with other steps to help families achieve a written plan for family faith development.

One of the things I appreciated as I read the book was that while Chatmon offered direction and shared many personal stories, he didn’t give too many specifics on what his family put together.  He didn’t want someone to fall into the trap of simply adopting what his family did.  He stressed the importance of each family identifying their own values, their own mission, their own prayer focus, ultimately making their plan their own.

While he shared some good insights and clear steps, there were a couple of phrases I highlighted that I considered memorable.

Near the end of the book Chatmon was expressing a long view of his family’s faith development plan.  He painted this picture:

“The thought of my kid sitting around a table with their kids, teaching and training them how to sit around with their kids – my great-grandkids – learning and living the ways of the Lord . . . I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.”

His vision reaches beyond even his own lifetime.  The generational impact could move far beyond his own years on this earth.  A pretty powerful picture.

In the final chapter he concludes the book by underscoring why he is passionate about families developing a written plan:

” . . . my most direct route to fulfilling this enormous calling of mine (and ours) is to live it and share it and instill it within those who are closest to me:  my family. They are the essential starting point where any hope of my being effective, any hope of becoming my very best for the kingdom, must begin.”

Chatmon offers practical tools to help families (especially fathers) to become intentional about a faith development plan and create specific steps to leave a spiritual legacy.

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Best & Worst Jobs in 2014

Our High School class is spending the month of November looking at the future. There are a number of decisions that teenagers need to make in regards to their future – what school to attend, what major to declare, what career to pursue, along with many other choices both big and small. We will explore some Biblical principles that God provides to help us in making these decisions.

One of our discussion topics is on career – what kind of work do I want to do for a large portion of my adult life? I started looking around at what the best and worst jobs are. I ran across this infographic on CareerCast.com.  A big part of where they were ranked was based on income, but thought it was interesting to get a feel for what career fields are currently trending well.

So, what about you?  What criteria did you use as your determined your career?  What was important to you as you were looking for a job?  Might be interesting for our high school students to hear.

best worst jobs infographic-2014

Joe is 22

joe is 22Hard to believe that twenty-two years ago Josiah made his appearance into this world. He was born in Defiance, OH (it’s kind of funny to say he was born in defiance – get it?), moved to Kentucky, to Indiana and then back to Ohio. He is keeping busy with school at CCU along with working three different jobs on campus.

I was looking back at past posts about Joe that have involved marching bands, mission trips, his stroke in middle school family gatherings and even past birthdays. My how time flies!

This morning I was thinking about and praying for Joe and especially the opportunity he will have this summer for an internship. I’m looking forward to where God leads him in that venture and how that will direct His future.

Happy Birthday Joe!

From This Day Until. . .

I was listening to an interview yesterday with a guy who was a part of the True Love Waits movement.  He said his biggest contribution to the movement was the phrase “from this day until. . .”  Here’s the entire pledge:

Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate, and my future children to a lifetime of purity including sexual abstinence from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship.

He believes this was an important phrase because it deals with the present and the future, not the past.  He commented that all we can do is move from where we are into the future and we can’t go back and change anything in our past.

I thought his comments rang true not only in the area of the True Love Waits pledge, but in all area of our lives. We probably all know people (or maybe we are that person) who won’t/can’t move toward a better future because of mistakes in the past.  They could be things we have done or things done to us.  We can’t change the past; we can’t undo what has been done.  But we can commit from this day until…

That comment wasn’t the main crux of the interview, but really jumped out at me.  God is in the business of taking care of our past.  I just saw a similar idea on Facebook today:  “Don’t remember what God has forgotten.” What we need to do is commit from this day until . . .

The Future of the Church

I receive a daily email called Simply Youth Ministry Today.  The writers offer insights on various aspects of youth ministry and the church.  This week they have been writing about the future of the church.  I thought what Josh Griffin wrote yesterday was good.

The future of youth ministry sure is a topic that has been getting some play for a while. And while that is very interesting to me, I thought it might be interesting to think about what we know is going to happen to the whole church in a few years:

The students in your ministry will be the parents in your church in 10 years
The students you are counseling, nudging and caring for are the parents in your church in a few years. These kids will be having kids (if you’ve been in youth ministry a while, it is a disconcerting feeling to say the least) and they will be the parents.

So? Teach them well. Step in as a role-model in single parent homes. Nudge students to honor and love their parents a little more this week. Help them realize that in the not-so-distant future they’ll be the mom and dad their teen is frustrated with. Oh, and help them stay pure in the meantime so parenthood doesn’t happen earlier than it should.

The students in your ministry will be the missionaries of the world in 12 years
The students who are on your Spring Break trip or with you in Costa Rica this summer are going to be the missionaries of the future. They are the ones to take the Gospel to the last people groups who haven’t heard and translate the Bible into the final most obscure languages.

If that’s true … Get as many of your students to experience missions as possible. Model servanthood to them. Fight for more scholarship money to get kids on these trips. Don’t hold back when it is time to push them.

The students in your ministry will run the church in 15 years
The students you are mentoring, discipling and reaching for Jesus right now are going to be the elders, deacons and pastors of the church. They are going to be making game-changing decisions about the standards of the church and the interpretation of the Bible. They are going to be hit with a myriad of huge decisions (our generation wrestled with but will largely leave to them).

My point? Disciple your students well. Make sure they are grounded in the Word. Make apologetics a priority. Give away leadership to them now so they have some experience when the church is given to them.

So what is the future of the church? Look no further than your own youth ministry to see it today.