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Parenting beyond your capacity: Book Review image

Parenting beyond your capacity: Book Review

Straightforward advice for how parents can engage their children in God’s story to the world.

When I was given this book at a conference a few months back, I took one look at the title Parenting beyond your capacity, and assumed that it would be of no use to me (given that I am not a parent). I took the book because it was free, and it’s foolish to turn down a free gift, and also because I like to collect books – in the hope that one day I might read them.

That night I awoke in the middle of the night (thanks to jetlag), and when there was nothing worth watching on the 127 channels on TV, I thought that reading this book might achieve the desired effect - sleep. It didn’t work. It captured my attention and I had finished the book within a couple of days.

As the title suggests, this is a book about parenting. But, it’s not a parenting self-help book; it’s a parenting get-help book. It’s about how parents can increase their parenting capacity by engaging their family in God’s story to the world. This is not just a book for those who are parents though. It also has a wealth of helpful insights for those who are hoping to be parents one day, preparing to be parents, grand parents, those who work with parents or have friends that are parents.

Three family truths

The authors are Reggie Joiner (Founder and CEO of Orange) and Carey Nieuwhof (Senior Pastor Connexus Community Church in Ontario, Canada, and a strong advocate for the Orange strategy). The Orange strategy focuses on helping churches (represented by the colour yellow) and families (represented by the colour red) combine influences (which makes orange), and unite in a common ministry effort to the next generation.

Through the pages of this book, Reggie and Carey share their own experiences of parenting with sincerity and openness. It is clear to see how God has refined them with their own children. And having the two perspectives just adds to the depth of this book.

There are three truths that the writers want the reader to understand.

  • Firstly, parents have the most potential to influence their children. 
  • Secondly, parents are not the only influence their children will need.
  • Thirdly, two combined influences will make a greater impact than just two influences on their own.

These truths form the framework for the '5 Family Values' that Reggie and Carey believe will help parents see their family through the context of a bigger story. For each of the values, the authors helpfully use Deuteronomy 6 as a model for parenting.  There are also a series of thought provoking discussion questions at the end of each chapter designed to push the reader to apply these values to their own family.

The 5 family values

A brief summary of the 5 Family Values are…

  1. Widen the circle: Pursue strategic relationships for your children so they recognise the need to be part of something that is much larger than your family.
  2. Imagine the end: Parents should ask the question ‘Who do you want your child to become?’ 

  3. Fight for the heart: Parents need to build a relationship with their child that is trustworthy. Pass on an understanding of God relationally and in love. 
  4. Create a rhythm: Things that become part of the daily rhythm are the things our families will come to believe are most important. Is God at the centre of your family rhythm? Consider how you might utilise already existing rhythms - such as eating meals together; walking or traveling together; bed time; getting up in the morning - to build the faith of children and young people.

  5. Make it personal: Before you can ask who your children are becoming, you have to examine who you are becoming. Your relationship with God will directly impact your children. Is your relationship with God growing, authentic and personal?

Throughout the book the authors encourage parents to be intentional and proactive in engaging their family in their church family. This is a real strength of the book. I feel like there has been a lot of talk lately about what churches can do to best partner with families. But this book comes from the perspective of parents and the steps they can take to connect their children with the church. The relationship between families and churches is, after all a partnership.

I would recommend this book because it is thought-provoking. But, it also provides simple, straightforward and practical advice for how parents can engage their children in God’s story to the world.
To quote the authors:

God sees family in the context of a much bigger story. Alone, we can only do so much. Our capacity will be pressed to its limits. But God knows our limits, and He has already set in place a plan for us to parent beyond our weaknesses, our situations and our human-ness. This plan isn’t new, but it does require a fresh perspective on our part, to see how God through time and space has used the family to demonstrate an eternal story of unconditional love and grace

This book has been enormously helpful for me as I consider the complimentary roles that the church and family have in raising children to become mature Disciples of Christ.

Click here to purchase 'Parenting Beyond Your Capacity'

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