Raising Children With Christ, Compassion, and Commitment

Five steps for Christian parents to build strong bonds between their kids and church

Reprinted from Again magazine with permission of Conciliar Press.

One of the great struggles we have today in the Church is preserving our children in the Orthodox Faith. Too often they seem not to be interested. Can we somehow motivate our kids to be excited about following Christ and being Orthodox Christians? I believe there is a way. It takes commitment and hard work, but it's worth it.

When I was eight, my mom passed away, and my dad remarried when I was ten. One summer evening when I was about fourteen, I was sitting on the front steps of our home in Minneapolis, thinking about how much I missed my mom. That night I decided that if I were to have nothing else in life, I wanted a great marriage and family. I put it above education, above a successful career, above my standing in the community.

My wife Marilyn and I both committed our lives to Christ while we were students at the University of Minnesota. One evening Dr. Bob Smith, a professor at Bethel College in St. Paul, talked on marriage and the family. Somewhere during his talk he created a picture that was indelibly etched in my mind. He said, "One day I'm going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ as a father, and my goal is to have my wife and children by my side, saying, `Lord, we're all present and accounted for. Here's Mary, here's Steve, here's Johnny, we're all here.'" That night, I prayed, "Lord, that's what I want when I get married and have children-that we might all enter Your eternal Kingdom intact."


Through college, seminary, and forty-five years of marriage, my commitment to have a great family and to bring them into the Kingdom with me has never wavered. My wife and I have kept our marriage healthy and have striven to be godly parents and grandparents. I want to outline for you five specific things Marilyn and I tried to do and, by the grace of God, mostly succeeded in doing, to build up our family in Christ and His Church.

1. Make Your Family Your Priority

More important than anything other than the Kingdom of God is our family. I believe if we're going to raise Orthodox Christian families, our spouses and children have to be our highest priority, next to Christ and His Church.

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