Want to Know the Path to Healthy, Thriving Families? Fighting for Family Shows the Way

Pastor Chris Bennett and his wife, Julie, share their practical strategies for building a healthy family in their new book.

By Nancy Flory Published on March 22, 2024

Chris and Julie Bennett and their four children — formerly from Norman, Oklahoma — packed up all their belongings and moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2018. It was an adventure, writes Julie. “[O]ur weary and hopeful hearts had latched on to little hints that what we wanted was hiding on the West Coast, land of music and film and creative groups galore. We wanted to build community with others, not as pastors but as a family ready to explore the power of belonging through media and entertainment in one of the largest, most disconnected cities in the world: Los Angeles.”

Chris and Julie just released a book titled Fighting for Family: The Relentless Pursuit of Building Belonging on March 12, 2024. It is available wherever books are sold.

“This book is about the beauty and mess of family and why it is worth fighting for,” writes pastor and author Chris. “It’s our reflection on the decades we’ve been building a family together and with others, our memories of how we have overcome the sun-blistered moments life has brought.” 

A Cross-Country, Family-Building Adventure

Fighting for Family is about that cross-country adventure — the one that would lead not only to a pastorship at Vintage Church Malibu, but would lead the Bennetts — and their kids — to careers in creativity. It is also about building families and what it takes to make a strong one. 

Family Is Really Hard

Building a healthy family is not easy, but it’s worth it. “Family is really hard,” writes Julie. “It will cost you your time, your money, your comfort, your security, and sometimes, even your ideals. But I promise you that there will always be a reward at the end of the climb. At the very least, you will grow and change. Through the hard times and misunderstandings, your endurance and your capacity to serve others will grow, and so will your appreciation for how far you have come. This will push you to keep going.”

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There will be setbacks. For instance, Julie was diagnosed with cancer and fought it twice — once in 2018 and again in 2020.

The Bennetts had just arrived in Los Angeles when she was first told she had Stage 3 metastatic breast cancer. The family briefly considered returning to Oklahoma for treatment, but decided to stay in California. “We have been led here, to LA.,” Julie told Chris. “God knows us. God knew I had cancer before we moved, but I think we found out here because otherwise we would never have come. We aren’t going anywhere. We will go through this together.”

Grab Your People

Fighting for Family encourages families to stick it out — even when circumstances get tough. But it also highlights the Bennett family’s journey, pointing out that they aren’t perfect, just willing to seek out new adventures together. “In times of crisis, we can either isolate or we can grab our people and do some work,” writes Julie. “I get isolation, and I’ve done that. But let me tell you, grabbing our people? That’s the right decision.”

The Bennetts not only encourage families to make a mission statement, but provide guidelines that will help you draft one. They write about treating each other with honor, loving each other during a complicated, messy season, learning from each other, creating healthy boundaries, betrayal, forgiveness, and more. It’s all about each family being the best it can be. 

“We are writing this book because we have tasted family and it’s addictive,” Julie says. “Chris and I have failed at being family at times but know it’s worth getting back up and trying again and again. We are writing this book because we think it matters just about as much as anything else in the world. And mostly, we are writing this book because we believe that everyone deserves to belong.”

 

Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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