Belonging and Becoming – Book Review

Andy Wade

Belonging and BeoomingBelonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture is the book many have been waiting for. Had it been around when we were starting our family 24 years ago, it would easily have been #1 on my list. That’s a huge endorsement coming from me, since I find most books on family and relationships filled with stereotypes and formulas. Here’s what’s different about Mark and Lisa Scandrette’s newest book:

It’s well written. From the very beginning they capture your attention with stories that draw you in. Then, weaving story, concept, reflection and action steps into each chapter, Mark and Lisa reinforce their main points in clear, simple terms.

It’s not “one size fits all”. This is not a recipe book telling you how much of each ingredient you need and precisely how to cook it. Mark and Lisa do share what they believe are key elements to a thriving family, but they do it in a way that gives maximum freedom to explore as a family what, and how much, of each element works best for you.

It’s Christ-centered with room for your family. At the center of this book is a chapter about our common story. As a family, whether traditional, single parent, blended, or other, we have a common story. We can choose to either intentionally write it together, or allow others to write it for us. Family faith formation is discovering our story within God’s larger story, then learning to walk faithfully together with Christ into the stories of our neighborhood and world.

It’s a rich tool chest you’ll come back to over and over again. I love how this book pulls to the surface critical aspects of our lives as family. Each chapter provides concrete ways your family can unpack the key concept, explore it as a family, a couple, and individually, and then reassemble it in a way the fits the uniqueness of your family. The tools and questions Mark and Lisa provide are what make this book so unique. They don’t just theorize, they give you practical actions so that you can make real changes that last.

It will not only enrich your family life, it might just draw families together for a stronger community. Not only does each chapter provide a helpful summary along with the activities, but at the end of the book is a group learning guide. Why go it alone as a family when you can bring others with you? The group section is set up so that leading the group is simple yet encourages vulnerability and discussion. You can download the guide here and see just how helpful it is!

Mark and Lisa are courageous! Each chapter of this book includes a reflection from their daughter, Hailey.  If I were writing a book about family I’m not sure I’d want my kids to make comments in each chapter. I’m just not that brave. Hailey makes the book even more personal and demonstrates her parents’ integrity in living out the overall message.

No, they are not the “perfect family”, and I’m sure they would all be quick to tell you that. But they are a family that cares deeply about one another because they’ve taken the time to be with, and belong to, one another. This “belonging and becoming” is really at the heart of what it means to be family and what it means to “create a thriving family culture”.

As a family, we’ve done pretty well. Still, I wish this book of wisdom and very practical guidance was around when we began our family nearly 25 years ago. In fact, to have read this book at the start of our marriage 32 years ago would have helped us in our pre-child years to lay a solid foundation on which to build our family.


Mark and Lisa Scandrette are co founders of ReIMAGINE: A Center for Integral Christian Practice. They lead an annual series of retreats, workshops and projects designed to help participants apply spiritual wisdom to everyday life. For twenty five years they have devoted themselves to creating community, offering hospitality, and inviting transformation in at risk neighborhoods. They live in the Mission District of San Francisco and have three young adult children. Mark is also the author of Practicing the Way of Jesus and together they are coauthors of the book, FREE: Spending Your Time and Money on What Matters Most.

Coming to Seattle and Portland, OR: Feb. 26-March 4. Locations and details coming soon.