Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

‘Everything Good about God is True: Choosing Faith’ author Bruce Reyes-Chow is the guest on a new podcast

‘Around the Table’ looks at the at-home conversations that can foster faith formation

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — As the guest of the new podcast “Around the Table” from the Office of Christian Formation, the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, an author, speaker and Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008), offers up his perspective on how conversations at home can improve and enrich family connections and spirituality.

Click here to listen to Reyes-Chow’s 35-minute conversation with podcast hosts the Rev. Michelle Thomas-Bush and the Rev. Cliff Haddox, pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio. Reyes-Chow’s latest book is “Everything Good about God is True: Choosing Faith.”

Reyes-Chow said he’s pleased that all three of his adult children still “attend and have a good relationship with the church.”

“That’s not to say we didn’t do anything except surround them with people who could have these conversations” with the children growing up, he said. “It often wasn’t me. If you’re a pastor or a church worker, they don’t want to hear you talk about that stuff.” The key is to arrange for other people to “engage in this work and influence their faith,” he said. “Nothing’s off the table when we talk about faith.”

“Our family, not surprisingly, is super-involved with social justice issues and trying to navigate those around faith,” he said. “We’re always talking about what’s our role in creating institutions that are causing pain and what’s our role to help move those out.”

“It’s actually an exciting conversation not just for young people, but for everybody,” he said. “In the book I talk about Jesus as prophet, priest, pastor and poet. What are the ways we engage in this work that fit who we are as people? My kids have never seen a protest they could pass up.”

“I think it’s good for our young people to see that we do mess up,” Thomas-Bush said.

“And that what we’re doing isn’t out of shame or guilt. Our response comes out of gratitude,” Reyes-Chow replied. “This gratitude for the spirit that we have compels us to try to live better and create healing and wholeness in the world.”

With more and more people living outside of a community of faith, when they walk into your Christian space, “you’d better talk about Jesus and do it in a way that makes sense and feels right for you,” Reyes-Chow said. “If folks can’t articulate what they feel about Jesus, then what are you doing? I’m not a Jesus Bible-thumper, but at the same time that’s why we’re here, and if that doesn’t compel us into doing good in the world, then people aren’t interested, and why should they be?”

Reyes-Chow said he’s not talking about “walking up to someone cold in the café and saying, ‘You know what? God.’”

But “I can almost guarantee that if you’re in relationship with somebody they’ll either say, ‘huh?’ and then move on or, ‘huh, tell me about that.’ I think that’s where we’ve bifurcated what evangelism is, to where it’s one way or nothing … It becomes natural. You’re not being apologetic about a deep part of your life.”

“I think that’s where many of us have just messed up. We have abdicated the Christian space and voice to a particular version of the faith,” Reyes-Chow said. To help temper the dominant voice coming from “this right-wing, conservative evangelical space,” other voices “must do our best to continue to speak it out a little bit louder, a little differently, in ways we feel we’re comfortable with … so that at least folks get the idea that there’s not just one version of this faith that we’re hearing about.”

“Even if we have to say, ‘We’re not that. We’re this,’ then at least people know what ‘this’ is,” he said.

The Rev. Michelle Thomas-Bush

Thomas-Bush wondered: If we haven’t had those conversations around the table, how do we even start?

“I would say, you have to acknowledge that,” Reyes-Chow said. “That’s the crux of the book. I’m going to just ask the questions everyone’s asking.”

The book takes on “this idea that God has a plan for our life … There isn’t this chessboard with a grandmaster moving us around,” Reyes-Chow said. He also addresses the theology explaining Jesus’ death on the cross known as substitutionary atonement. “I try to deconstruct this idea there is this sacrificed child who died,” he said.

Before issuing a spoiler alert, Reyes-Chow said he also believes in Jesus’ bodily resurrection. “Didn’t see that coming, did you?” he said.

Thomas-Bush, associate pastor for youth and their families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, recently read the faith statements of the church’s 67 eighth graders. One person “did this beautiful statement on new life, the resurrection moments when God reaches in,” she said. “Young people are looking for this information and craving this conversation.”

“So many people in the pews don’t know how to talk about this,” Reyes-Chow said.

‘There isn’t this chessboard with a grandmaster moving us around.’ — The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow

Haddox wondered what kind of question Reyes-Chow might throw out to get meaningful conversation around the table rolling.

The Rev. Cliff Haddox

Maybe, “What do you think God thinks about and then pick the political topic going on right now,” Reyes-Chow said. He said he’s enjoyed having his young adult children engaged in the work they’ve undertaken because “they have begun to teach me and expand my own thinking around some things. I’ve been able to ask, ‘You have been working around this kind of movement-building. Tell me about this, because when I see things in the world, how do I continue to learn?’”

Haddox offered this benediction to those listening to the podcast: “May our tables be places where we can pass on faith, build a rich faith vocabulary and nourish a deep and abiding love with our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.”

The guest on Friday’s edition of “Around the Table” will be Kayla Craig, a storyteller, author and modern liturgist. Hear the first installment of “Around the Table” featuring author and speaker Mark Yaconelli here.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.