How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home


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.

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.



  1. You are amazing in His image says:

    I completely disagree with this closing sentence.

    “What we need is kids who fully grasp the reality that they have nothing to offer, …”

    That is what Christianity is completely doing, and it is wrong.
    Please do tell where God says he created us in his image and that Christ is in you…
    And you have nothing to offer.

  2. Very well said. Thank you so much for this reality check. I certainly hope I dot sound blasphemous, but your words seem to come from the very breath of God.

  3. I found your article interesting and I agree with it. However, I have a question. If you have three children, as I do, and you do your best to teach them all the right message and as adult children you have two believers and one pagan, does that mean the problem is in the teaching methods or their understanding/reception methods?

  4. That is why I like the Jesus Storybook Bible so much… It focuses on Jesus not on mini lessons on how to ‘be good.’

  5. Wonderful point! As a nation we are in a moral free fall, but morality is not the issue, righteous is the issue. Only through the fear of The Lord and the gospel is there hope for anyone.

  6. James Picou says:

    I love this post but I can’t agree with “What we need is kids who fully grasp the reality that they have nothing to offer”. That’s just not true. They have TONS to offer. But the magic is that they have these amazing gifts to offer within the message of God’s incredible plan and his foresight to use them & their gifting within the context of the world they have been born into.

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