Raising Christian Kids in an Ungodly World

I picked up my nephew from football practice the other day and while I waited, I watched the other high school kids interact outside my car window.

A pretty girl walked out of the gym from a cross-country workout session and a group of guys started yelling inappropriate things at her. She gave them “the finger” and a dirty look and then walked up to window and leaned in seductively to whisper something in the boy’s ear.

There was raunchy laughter and arm punching. Tires spinning. More cat calls and for a brief moment I got a snapshot of the teen scene.

It scared me.

raising christian kids

Because I’m not so naive to realize this is regular, normal everyday teenager stuff.

This isn’t the latest trashy Miley Cyrus video that’s gotten more than 72 million views. It’s not the readily available porn on a friend’s cell phone or one of the thousands of sext messages kids send each other. It’s not the cyber bullying that results in suicide, the injustice of racial profiling, or the politically correct agenda that tells us it’s our choice to kill babies and marry whoever we please.

As I crawled into bed that night, I couldn’t help but think about my naive 13 year old who will be readying for this same high school this time next summer or my kind, sensitive son who already feels out of place among his peers because he’s a “nice kid.”

It’s enough to make a momma want to board up her doors and keep her good kids out of this bad world.

We are just entering the teen years in our home and rather than live in fear, we are trying to prepare our kids for the world. We refuse to stick our heads in the sand and throw out polite Christian promises of things our kids will never do. We know there will be temptations to look at pornography and push boundaries we have defined. We know there will be mistakes and failures because we are raising humans. And as mature Christian adults, we still make plenty of our own.

I know my good kids can be bad and the bad world can be good. But we can’t assume our Christian kids can survive this ungodly world just because we take them to church on Sundays and have 11 Bibles in our home.

Did you know 70-80% of kids leave the church when they turn 18? And many millennials don’t return. It’s a startling fact.  We can lead our children to Jesus, but we can’t make them disciples. While I want my children to make good, Godly choices as they grow up, I hold fast to the promise that God can redeem anything, even bad choices. He often uses our mistakes and failures to lead us to back to Him.

I’m still intimidated by all I see going on in the world, but I refuse to cower and move to another country (although I have thought about it) because I’m afraid. We are in the in-between years, watching our children transform into teenagers before our eyes. We are making a lot of mistakes and learning along the way. But here are some truths we are holding onto:

  • We are expecting our kids to rise above the low expectations the world has of teenagers (Read Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations). They don’t have to be rebellious. They can overcome the world with the help of Jesus and that’s our goal.
  • We are resisting the urge to make everything black/white (good/bad) and directing our kids as they get older instead of constantly correcting them. Asking important questions like, “What do you think about that video/movie?” Etc
  • We are creating a safe environment of very open communication about lust, dating, pornography, what really goes on at school, church (oh, yes, even there). We want our home to be safe, a place where our kids can talk about anything.
  • We are trying to establish a community of peer believers to do life along side our kids. I’m learning this is critical. Christian kids need Christian community outside of school (even church). They need positive peer influence or they will find it in the bad that’s at every turn.
  • We are offering forgiveness in failure. Perhaps the biggest thing we can offer our children is forgiveness. I don’t want my kids making good decisions because they think there’s is a punishment at home for bad ones. I want them to make good choices because it’s a result of a right heart. But when they do mess up, there needs to be grace.

I was raised in a black and white era of Christianity with shame-based sex education and constantly questioning my salvation with every mess-up. I don’t want to raise my kids in that tension. When I look at the world around us, my first inclination is to shelter and remove my children from it. But we are called to be in the world, just not of it. And that’s the hard part.

But by the grace of God, it’s possible to raise Christian kids in an ungodly world.



  1. 1


    Thanks so much for sharing where you are, where you want to be and how, by grace, you are walking this journey. You are a blessing to many and I find great encouragement through your words and example.


  2. 3

    Kelly says

    Thanks for this! I was just having this conversation with a friend the other day about my children. My oldest is only 7 years old and I already I found out that he has learned many things from the neighborhood kids and the bus. Your thoughts on this are very encouraging!

  3. 4

    Caroline says

    Thanks so much for sharing! I love your blog. I am a mommy of 2 young girls and am deathly afraid of raising them in such a scary world.

  4. 5


    We are smack in the middle of the teenage mess, with two in high school and a 5th and 6th grader. The biggest thing that has helped keep our kids on the right track has been good friends – at church and in school. It’s so much easier for them to make those tough decisions to go against the crowd when they are not all alone. Also what has helped me as a momma is taking time to share with other mommas, to hear that my kid isn’t the only one dealing with this or that is a blessing to my worrying heart. Keep the faith!!

  5. 6


    awakened this morning awash in anxiety over my teen boys. unfounded except that they are teen boys in an ungodly world…..this statement of yours, “I hold fast to the promise that God can redeem anything, even bad choices. He often uses our mistakes and failures to lead us to back to Him.” freeing because it helps me realize that i am not. in. control. and yes, they will make unwise decisions. but redeemable? you bet. thanks.

  6. 7


    One things I would add, as a mom whose kids are now lovely adults … take advantage of every chance you have to have fun together, create good memories and have shared experiences. It is a provides a nice relationship base for those harder moments.


  7. 8

    Naomi J says

    I very much love these posts! I have a daughter who just turned 2, and it already scares me to think of her as a teenager with other teenagers. These are wonderful thoughts though, and they give me a little hope that I might be able to help my baby through it when the time comes. Thank you!

  8. 9


    I think it is safe to say that God couldn’t redeem anything if NOT bad choices, other wise we would have no relationship with Him.
    I am so refreshed and encouraged to read this. I was raised in a very intense legalistic, black and white, no answers, no discussion kind of home. I want my kids to be able to talk to me about the tough stuff, and the fun stuff, the scary and the beautiful. I am so thankful for God’s mighty redemption. The Old and New Testaments are full of blatant dysfunction, and in our world everything is blatantly sneaky. We have to stand up for our kids!!

  9. 11

    Bethany F says

    Thanks for your article! I enjoyed reading it. There is much on your blog that has been an encouragement. Thank you for your candidness.

    It is true that many millennials don’t return to church. For many different reasons.
    But I’d like to respectfully disagree with parts of the RHE article you linked to.

    This response to her article really lays it out. It’s a quick read, if you take the time, thank you.


  10. 12


    I’m glad we are not the only family with these fears! While we do home school for now, we do plan on one day sending them to public school as they get older. You can not let these fears control your plans though. You just have to pray and rely on Gods word that you have built a solid foundation of morals and values that can not be swayed by peer pressure and all the ungodly temptations that await them outside the walls of your home. This was a great read!

  11. 13


    Do you know what always bothered me about Miley Cyrus? It’s that she achieved her fame largely because of Christian families who wanted a “pure” role model for their kids, not accepting that, once Miley turned 18 and had a name behind her, she would turn. This happens over and over again with tweeny singer girls, and a new generation of people falls for it over and over again. I wish people would use a little more discernment before throwing their support, and dollars, at people who are using them. Yup. That’s my rave.

  12. 14


    Thank you ! We are on the cusp of having a teen in the home and I’m so thankful for your encouragement. I too grew up in a legalistic environment and I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want my kids making good decisions because there is punishment at home too. . Great thoughts and wisdom!

  13. 15


    We homeschool and I have been so grateful that my children didn’t have to deal with all of the garbage that you were describing. There is a reason that it hurts our hearts as parents to think of our kids having to deal with all of that. I believe that it is our God given fierce protectiveness that makes us hesitate to place our children in that environment. We are called to be in this world, but not our children…not until they have good solid roots. It’s our job to shelter them until that time. Once they have had the chance to grow up spiritually, then we can boldly send them out as the arrows God led us in raising. Even as homeschoolers, our children have had to deal with a small amount of undesirable issues, but thankfully it has been rare. I do absolutely love your blog and have been very inspired by what you write. I just felt the need to respond this way based on our experiences and convictions. I disagree in love! :-)

    • 15.1

      kristen says

      The crazy thing is my kids have been exposed to the very same garbage by homeschool friends who have too much Youtube liberty and Christian friends who have unlimited internet access. This isn’t a homeschool vs. public school debate. (I don’t think public school is for everyone and neither is homeschooling. We take every grade year by year and so far public school has worked for us well.) The “world” is everywhere, even in the church, but it’s our job to teach and train our kids at home wherever we choose to educate them.

      • 15.1.1

        Sylvia says

        Sadly, this is true. When our son was a teen we learned the hard way about Christian friends and even Christian school. He once told us that the main difference between his friends who were believers and those friends who were not was that believers went to youth group.

      • 15.1.2


        I didn’t mean to start a debate…it’s just with kids ages 17, 13, 6 and 6 weeks, we are in lots of different stages and have dealt with a lot, but we have been so grateful that they havn’t been exposed to so much worldliness. Even as it is, there is enough to combat. It definitely creeps in at church and other places, but it is much easier to keep in check when it’s not for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. I just encourage moms to not suppress the desire to protect their children. It is natural and God-given. He has entrusted them to us. Thank you for always encouraging moms with your blog!

      • 15.1.3

        Kelli says

        I just wanted to share, that as a homeshool mom, the wording in your post made me FEEL as if it was a little bit anti-homeschooling. Just with the phrasing of “being in the world and not of it”. That argument is used so many times against those of us who choose to homeschool, and by other Christians, that I think we can often be very sensitive to posts such as this, because I am sure you did not in any way mean to criticize homeschoolers by your post. Each family must prayerfully decide what education route is best for their family, but I do think as Hope states, that it is important to protect our kids to a certain extent no matter what path we choose, in order to let their faith develop roots before they are completely exposed.



          I have to say that the phrase “being of the world and not in it” is directly taken from the Bible and if it’s offensive, I didn’t come up with it. Homeschooling never entered my mind when I was writing this post. I wrote it from the perspective of a public school parent. I’m just as sensitive to parents who imply all Christians should homeschool. But I agree it’s a personal choice and we can all encourage each other in our journey to protect and provide for our kids.


            Kelli says

            I meant it is offensive when it is thrown at us, as if we are wrong in our decision – since it is often used in a negative way by public school Christian families against us. I even said that I was sure you did not mean anything by your posting, and that it was a sensitivity on our part. Best of luck to you and your family. There are challenging waters for us all to tread.

  14. 16

    Gabi says

    What an incredible article! Thank you for your boldness on controversial subjects, this one’s going in my saved file! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  15. 17

    Karen says

    My daughter played JV sports last yr as a 7th grader (13 yo) and has continued to practice and will try out again this year for the JV team, so I’ve experienced EXACTLY what you described in pickup line at the high school. But I’m also seeing a lot of this go on at church. Unfortunately some moms even making comments that they’d rather them be at volleyball than youth group……so IT IS EVERYWHERE. I’m amazed daily at what I have to share w/my children, that her guidance counselor and PE coach are partners and that their 3 children attend school w/her, just so she isn’t caught off guard as well as using it as a teachable moment. I, too grew up extremely legalistic and I’ve done ALL i can do to avoid that. I want both of my children to come to me to talk about ANYTHING. There was no talking in my home. I still fight some of those terrible legalistic, judgmental tendencies and want my children to feel freedom in Christ. She has good friends, and I’m friends w/their moms, we all look out for each other’s children. So w/a good support system in place we head off to 8th grade…..and beyond. We can do this !!

  16. 18

    HeatherS says

    It’s not just high school, our son saw much of the same when he began middle school in 6th grade! I saw alot too in the parking lot which is shared by both middle and high school. We found, for him, that he was just not prepared for this in 6th grade (no one should have to be in my opinion) and ended up taking him out and homeschooling for a year and currently he attends private school which goes to the end of 8th grade. No matter how much talking and supporting we did and even with a group of good friends, it was just too much for him emotionally. We are hoping that a few extra years to mature while in a safe environment, will make the transition back to public high school a little easier. This stuff is so hard on both teens and parents and requires lots of time on our knees in prayer for our child and the other children!

  17. 19

    Deidre says

    Wow, I soooo needed to read your post today. I know that I need to shift myself into this mode of thinking, but boy is it hard! Times are just so different from when I was in those teen years in the early 80’s (don’t laugh!). Thank you for sharing and helping me so that I can be more open in the way I talk with my 14, 12 and 9 year old. You truly are a blessing to me every time I read your posts!

  18. 20

    curlyjordi says

    Teach your kids good morals, let them make their own decisions about supernatural beings when they are old enough. This includes buddah, Gods, Jesus, Mohamed, Allah, ghosts, wizards, magic, etc.

  19. 21


    Sounds like you are not going into these years with your head in the sand…that is the first step in the right direction. It is a very scary world our kids live in and even if you do everything right – raising them in a strong Christian environment, being open and honest, etc. they still may take a prodigal walk. But, as you said, God can redeem even their mistakes for his good. My daughter, age 24, went through her “prodigal” years, but now is using what she learned from that time to mentor a high school girls small group at church. So take heart that God is always at work redeeming even the worst situations for His glory!

  20. 22

    Camille says

    Please don’t worry too much, your children will be fine. You have laid a good foundation for them and once they are teens, they will know what is the right thing to do. I worried for a long time and finally realized it is out of my hands. I gave it up to God because I had no other choice. I have two young men in their late 20’s and while they were not always easy to raise, it is all good right now. Of course, I had my share of sleepless nights like any other parent. My youngest works for the Travel Channel and is on the road all the time. His life is going in direction none of us expected. I just pray this is God’s work in his life and he will end up where he is meant to be. All you can do is keep talking and listening. Try not to over-react when they tell you something as that will make it less likely you will hear about it again if you freak out over something.

  21. 23


    I just found your blog today when a reference was made to this very post by my friend Flora at her blog, A Work in Progress. I am a grandmother to nine wonderful and beautiful kiddos. My husband and I are raising two of them. We raised two sons and one adopted daughter. We gave them all a firm, loving foundation. While we did not regularly attend church we did believe in Jesus and God in our home and gave HIM the place that he deserved. One of our sons made mistakes and bad choices and is still fighting with his demons. Sometimes, I believe, that bad things happen to good people. It is his children that we are raising. A 13 year old girl and a 15 year old boy. They are very, very involved in church and have a wonderful youth group. However, school (horrors, they go to public school as there is no way I would ever home-school) and church both bring a lot of drama and teaching moments about. I think only by the Grace of God can we raise these children in this un-Godly world where even women do not support other women in the jobs we are all doing that are so very hard. Thanks for the encouragement I received from reading your words. I could easily see that you were not making this into a school debate as even those who are home-schooled will someday have to walk among all the rest of us. God Bless you Kristen

  22. 24

    Amanda says

    Thank you, Kristen for always being so open and honest with us about your struggles. It is so encouraging to know that we are not in these battles alone. Please, please continue to blog with honesty and openness- don’t let what anyone has to say discourage you! You are a blessing to so many people, myself included, and I look forward to reading your posts. There will always be nay-sayers and people who love to debate (about ANYTHING), but please don’t let that stop you from being YOU! Thanks again and I am so glad to have found your blog. :)

  23. 25


    As a parent who is just a few years ahead of you (18 and 16 year olds), I understand exactly what you are saying! Even though we homeschooled our kids, they have been exposed to SO many things by their Christian friends, as well as participation in public school sports. Each child is different and needs to be raised accordingly. My son was able to participate in public school sports and came through as a strong leader to his peers – standing for Christ and walking in integrity. My daughter was influenced negatively by her Christian friends – most of whom are/were also homeschooled and has made some very foolish choices with hard consequences. Even if they prove themselves not so trustworthy, we still have to let them grow up and make their own choices. We raised them on very solid Biblical foundations and trust that God will keep them and continue to draw them to Himself, no matter where they wander in the meantime. It is SO hard to let them become more and more independent, but we hold close to Jesus and rest in Him to take care of them when it is out of our hands. We have worked very hard to have an open environment in our home that allows them to feel comfortable talking about anything and I hope that continues to be an open venue for them as they continue to grow up and leave home. We even lived in a foreign country for 6 years – believe me when I say they can be just as exposed to ungodly influences there as they are here in the USA (I had to explain a lot of things to my young children before I thought it should have been appropriate:-). Blessings to you and your family and thank you for always being so transparent! It is such an encouragement to so many!

  24. 27

    Chad says

    Do you know why people “leave the church” when they’re 18 and never look back? Because they go to college, learn some views and ideas outside the extremely narrow scope they’ve been force-fed, and realize that none of what’s been crammed down their throats for the last 18 years makes any sense at all. Basically an extended version of the Santa Claus lie, only instead of being disappointed, we’re liberated. Free at last, free at last, there’s no God almighty, so I’m free at last :-)

    Funny, I’m trying to figure out how to raise a secular child in a world full of people who insist on trying to brainwash my kid.

  25. 29


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  26. 31

    Heather B says

    Great post! Amen! We felt the urgency from the time our son was a young age to equip ourselves to help him. I don’t think of myself as naive, but yet, I think I am, and now with so much more for our kids to face, eeek. I just have to share this great new book I’ve been reading called called “Middle School: The Inside Story- What Kids Tell Us, But Don’t Tell You,” by Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuna. It has interviews and feedback from middle schoolers, parents and teachers (and a little humor) to help us deal with faith, purity, puberty, communication, independence, discipline and accountability, tackling social media, technology, Internet, gaming, and deepening and strengthening a positive, loving relationship. It’s so rich in valuable help as we face these transitional years with our kids. I think everyone with a middle schooler or who will have a middle schooler will benefit from it. I would highly recommend it!

  27. 32

    Becky Fouts says

    Thank you for your bold stand, stating that parents should expect more than what the world expects from children. I think it is so important to PLAN for your kids to be pure, kind, gentle, faithful. I realize many times they will fall down, so do we as parents (and now as grandparents) ! But God calls for us, and for our children who are saved, to be holy. You are a good mom, and a good encourager to so many!!

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