How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home

Slide1Every Imperfect and Normal Family wants their kids to turn out right. So, we establish goals for character development and try to create an environment where our kids can mature. Church, school, sports teams, family relationships… each of these provides a context where our kids can learn to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Unfortunately, our “good” objectives might have absolutely nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And we inadvertently end up raising pagans instead of Christians.

 We end up teaching the wrong thing because we have the wrong objectives.

Too many times, (Christian) parents have it as their goal to make their kids good and moral. It is as if the entire purpose of their family’s spiritual life is to shape their children into law-abiding citizens who stay out of trouble. The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.

We end up teaching the wrong thing because we have the wrong objectives.

This sentiment was stirred in me afresh when I read an interview with Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer. He was reflecting on how the “Christian message” he was trying to teach wasn’t Christianity at all…

“I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, “Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,” or “Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!” But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality. . .

And that was such a huge shift for me from the American Christian ideal. We’re drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. It’s the Oprah god.”

So what is your objective?

Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.

I want my kids to be good. We all do. But as our kids grow up, the truth of the gospel can easily get lost somewhere between salvation (where we know we need Jesus) and living life (where we tend to say “I’ve got this”). My experience is that the vast majority of parents are encouraging moral behavior in their kids so that God will bless their (usually self-centered) pursuits. It’s the American Dream plus Jesus. And it produces good, moral pagans.

Because the world has enough pagans. Even plenty of really nice ones.

Consider the key objectives you have for your kids. Seriously, take a minute to think about what would deem you a successful parent. If your goals are focused on your kids’ behavior, their happiness, or their accomplishments (but don’t include a dependence upon Christ and a submission to His will and work), then you might want to make some adjustments.

Because the world has enough pagans. Even plenty of really nice ones. What we need is kids who fully grasp the reality that they have nothing to offer, but who intimately know a God who has everything they need.

*I have added a follow-up post that offer some suggestions of How to Guide Your Kid to a Faith That Lasts. I hope it’s helpful!

*Check out my brand new book: The Talk(s): A Parent’s Guide to Talking about Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables. It has been developed to assist parents as they help their kids navigate our hyper-sexualized culture. Whether your kids are 6 or 16, it provides practical help to help your kids to make wise choices in a messed-up world. Find out more at www.infoforfamilies.com.

 

About Barrett Johnson

Barrett Johnson is the husband to Jenifer and the father of five great kids (including four adolescents). He serves as the Family Minister at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church outside of Atlanta and his blog, INFO for Families, has more than 40,000 views each month. He has recently released his first book, “The Talk(s): A Parent’s Guide to Critical Conversations About Sex, Dating, and Other Unmentionables.” It has been created to help every parent to equip their kids to make wise choices in a sexually-charged culture. Find out more at www.infoforfamilies.com.

The End of The World – Part 2 of 2


In the first article in this series on the end of the world, we explored the Mayan myth and what NASA thinks about such end-of-the-world predictions.  (Click here to read  – http://www.changingthefaceofchristianity.com/christian-news-and-insights/the-end-of-the-world-part-1-of-2/)

In this 2nd part, let’s continue exploring this fascination with end-of-the-world predictions and try to make sense of it all so we aren’t deceived.

[Read more...]

About Kasey Harris

Kasey is a long time Christian who only recently found Christ. She tells people that she was 31 years old before she finally realized there was a huge part missing in her Christian walk, a part that made her long for something deeper, more relational and less ritualistic. That part was a day to day relationship with Christ Himself and a working application of His word. She has since committed herself to a deeper understanding of the Bible and God, and has come to the conclusion that for many years she was trying to change herself and not allow Christ to change her. She has completed four years with Bible Study Fellowship, enjoys leading women’s ministries, and is a member of The Gospel Coalition. Kasey is also a former board member of Changing the Face of Christianity. As a Christian Pop Culture writer, she loves sharing how we can be Christians IN the world, but not OF the world.

The End of The World – Part 1 of 2


Do you might remember that Prince song “1999” that goes:

“I was dreamin’ when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray.
“But when I woke up this morning, could’ve sworn it was judgement day.
  So, say, two-thousand, zero, zero, party’s over, oops-out of time.
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999.”

[Read more...]

About Kasey Harris

Kasey is a long time Christian who only recently found Christ. She tells people that she was 31 years old before she finally realized there was a huge part missing in her Christian walk, a part that made her long for something deeper, more relational and less ritualistic. That part was a day to day relationship with Christ Himself and a working application of His word. She has since committed herself to a deeper understanding of the Bible and God, and has come to the conclusion that for many years she was trying to change herself and not allow Christ to change her. She has completed four years with Bible Study Fellowship, enjoys leading women’s ministries, and is a member of The Gospel Coalition. Kasey is also a former board member of Changing the Face of Christianity. As a Christian Pop Culture writer, she loves sharing how we can be Christians IN the world, but not OF the world.

Why Science and the Supernatural Don’t Mix

Science, evolution, intelligent design

Photo by jurvetson

 

In our last article in this category on Understanding Science, we answered the question “What is Science?” I quoted a definition by Stephen S. Carey, author of “A Beginner’s Guide to Scientific Method”. On page 5, he defines science as “that activity which aims to further our understanding of why things happen as they do in the natural world [emphasis added]. It accomplishes this goal by applications of scientific method – the process of observing nature [emphasis added], isolating a facet that is not well understood and then proposing and testing possible explanations.” [Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

What is Science?

Science, evolution, intelligent design

Photo by jurvetson

 Christians are viewed as having a superficial or even non-existent understanding of science and the world we live in. Non-Christian, humanist, atheist “free-thinkers” would even go so far as saying we turn a blind eye to the world and the scientific knowledge that is to be gained by scientific inquiry. 

Although I believe this general characterization of Christians to be pretty accurate, it certainly doesn’t correctly define us all. There are plenty of Christian scientists in the world, countless Christian science teachers, and prominent Christian professors who are able to balance a knowledge of God with the human knowledge discernible through the sciences. [Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

Are Haunted Houses Too Scary for Christians?

 

It’s honestly been years since I went to a “scary” haunted house for Halloween. I think the last time must have been in my teens. Back then, I didn’t even consider myself to be a Christian. But here I am now as a Christian adult with kids and I’m wondering if haunted houses are just too scary for Christians.

[Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

How to Celebrate a Christian Halloween

 

Each of us has a choice…to participate in Halloween or not. I really don’t mind if you do or don’t. But the occasion is definitely an opportunity to question the Christian participation in the holiday event. For those of you (us) who celebrate it, I’d be curious to find out why you think it is fine. For those that don’t participate, I’d be equally curious of why you don’t.

[Read more...]

About Brad White

R. Brad White is the Founder and President of Changing the Face of Christianity Inc. Brad is a former atheist and became an "on fire for God" Christian in 2005. In 2008, Brad became incredibly burdened by what he perceived as a Christian faith far off course, and Christians far from living the teachings of Jesus Christ. In 2010, Brad submitted to the calling to reverse these negative Christian stereotypes, by starting "Changing the Face of Christianity" (a 501c3 Texas non-profit corporation). Read more about R. Brad White

Today’s Church Becoming Too Cool?

From my own comfy church pew, I’ve recently noticed what seems to be an obsessive pursuit of “cool-relevancy” by the church. In a mass-media, buffet-style world of congregational offerings, it seems like an increased amount of focus is being placed on organizing media presentations and coffee bar locations, rather than intimate interaction with new members and plans for deeper spiritual growth.

While I understand that we cannot grow people until we get them through the doors, I also think that there could be a downfall to spending too much time adhering to the tire-less march of reinvention. It may threaten to blind new Christians to the realities that being a Christian is less about slick slide show presentations, cool gadgetry and ease of bible use, and more about uncomfortable, slow, change (sanctification).
[Read more...]

About Kasey Harris

Kasey is a long time Christian who only recently found Christ. She tells people that she was 31 years old before she finally realized there was a huge part missing in her Christian walk, a part that made her long for something deeper, more relational and less ritualistic. That part was a day to day relationship with Christ Himself and a working application of His word. She has since committed herself to a deeper understanding of the Bible and God, and has come to the conclusion that for many years she was trying to change herself and not allow Christ to change her. She has completed four years with Bible Study Fellowship, enjoys leading women’s ministries, and is a member of The Gospel Coalition. Kasey is also a former board member of Changing the Face of Christianity. As a Christian Pop Culture writer, she loves sharing how we can be Christians IN the world, but not OF the world.

50 Shades of Grey – Should We Read It? Part 2 of 2

50 Shades of Grey: To Read or Not To Read?

This is part 2 of a series discussing “50 Shades of Grey – Should We Read It”.  Click here to read the first part.
[Read more...]

About Kasey Harris

Kasey is a long time Christian who only recently found Christ. She tells people that she was 31 years old before she finally realized there was a huge part missing in her Christian walk, a part that made her long for something deeper, more relational and less ritualistic. That part was a day to day relationship with Christ Himself and a working application of His word. She has since committed herself to a deeper understanding of the Bible and God, and has come to the conclusion that for many years she was trying to change herself and not allow Christ to change her. She has completed four years with Bible Study Fellowship, enjoys leading women’s ministries, and is a member of The Gospel Coalition. Kasey is also a former board member of Changing the Face of Christianity. As a Christian Pop Culture writer, she loves sharing how we can be Christians IN the world, but not OF the world.

50 Shades of Grey – Should We Read It? Part 1 of 2

50 Shades of Grey or Red?

My husband Josh and I were talking one evening after he returned from a business trip, when someone on TV mentioned the book, 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

Josh said, “What the heck is that book even about? Because of the nice looking business tie on the cover, I picked up a copy to buy at the airport, thinking it was a leadership development book.” [Read more...]

About Kasey Harris

Kasey is a long time Christian who only recently found Christ. She tells people that she was 31 years old before she finally realized there was a huge part missing in her Christian walk, a part that made her long for something deeper, more relational and less ritualistic. That part was a day to day relationship with Christ Himself and a working application of His word. She has since committed herself to a deeper understanding of the Bible and God, and has come to the conclusion that for many years she was trying to change herself and not allow Christ to change her. She has completed four years with Bible Study Fellowship, enjoys leading women’s ministries, and is a member of The Gospel Coalition. Kasey is also a former board member of Changing the Face of Christianity. As a Christian Pop Culture writer, she loves sharing how we can be Christians IN the world, but not OF the world.