Read the Bible.
Go to church.
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.