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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The Noticer Returns

The Noticer ReturnsBack in September, 2013, I wrote about reading Andy Andrew’s The Noticer. Jones (just Jones, not Mr. Jones) shows up unexpectedly to offer insight and advice (he calls it “perspective”) to people just when they need to hear it. Andrews has released a second book about Jones titled The Noticer Returns.

In this second offering Jones continues to offer perspective to people and he continues to show up at unexpected times. One time he meets a farmer in the middle of his wheat field and Jones almost gets shot (you’ll have to read it to see what happens).

Much of this book focuses on parents who have questions about the best way to raise their children and, maybe more importantly, how the parents know they are going about it the right way. It made for some interesting chapters.

There were two passages of the book that really stood out to me. One came out of conversation with the farmer. In talking about some of the decisions this farmer needed to make, Jones said this: “The man you become will be determined by the value you provide for others – those whom you meet on the road to who you are becoming. Great or small, your legacy will be judged one day by the quality and amount of value you were able to contribute in the lives of other people.” Pretty powerful thought about the legacy we leave.

The other passage was in a conversation with a man whose wife was dying. The husband was emotionally spent and was angry that he was losing his spouse of so many years. Jones offered some perspective to the man comparing her exit from this world like a birth into a new world. “She is not the end. She is at the beginning…for many years this dear child was happy and content in this body. But for some time now, she has struggled. She has become uncomfortable. She has begun to long for freedom from the pain of this body and has sensed that the world she inhabits is not where she ultimately belongs. Even now she does not fully appreciate the reality that is waiting on the other side of her struggle, but she is preparing to experience something new and wonderful that in her wildest imaginings could not be described.” I liked the description that the world she inhabits is not where she ultimately belongs. God has more in store for us than just this life.

The Noticer Returns would be worth your time to read, whatever season of life you find yourself.