Can I Share My Faith With My Kids?

Certain conversations have a way of staying inside my head.

One such conversation was about faith and its meaning. We were speaking with Duncan, a Chinese man who was visiting my parents’ home in West Michigan. I was in high school at the time. It was 2003.

Duncan was the father of our exchange student and visited to spend time with us, the hosts, and with his daughter, who we had supported during her time in America.

During his brief stay, we delved into the topic of faith.

Amidst the conversation, Duncan told us that one of his biggest regrets in life was not having imparted faith to his daughters.

That’s the part that stuck with me.

And now, over a decade later, having witnessed the first six months of our son’s life, I have become convinced that imparting faith to one’s children is vital.

Why? Because I have experienced God. I have witnessed God’s work in the lives of others. Jesus Christ is my role model yet also my Savior. He is also a friend. I really do want people to know about this, and our son is one of those people!

Now let’s take a step back.

Various families take various approaches when it comes to parenting. Some families allow their children to sort of “make their own way” and figure things out. Telling themselves they don’t want to restrict their children, they allow them to explore and encourage them to check out all kinds of faith systems, allthewhile making sure they assure their kids that no religion is superior to the other.

That’s one approach. Here’s another.

Some families are terrified that their kids will question their faith. They’re scared that another faith system will become attractive, so they make sure to create barriers against those other faiths. They may emphasize the negative aspects of other faiths and underscore the truths of their own beliefs and the significant leaders in their own theological and spiritual leaders.

Both sets of parents care about their kids and desire for their progeny to flourish. That’s not in question. What’s in question is this: how should a family guide their children spiritually?

This NPR interview tackles this question. I end up thinking much like Kara Powell, author of Sticky Faith, an influential book [and blog] on the process of imparting faith to the young. Listen and check it out if you have time.

Anyway, as a Christian, I think of Jesus as the ultimate. His teachings are true, and his provenance is divine; he’s God’s Son. But how should I communicate this to my children?

Here are several key steps I feel compelled to take ::

  1. Trust God.

When Silas was baptized, it was a mysterious way for God to say, “I’ll take care of Silas.” We took him to the feet of our Savior, and we trust that God will work through his power to bring Silas to an awareness, first, then a simple trust, and then strong confidence in his Creator. And we trust that God will use us in this process.

  1. Model the spirituality that I desire for my child to eventually own.

It starts very close to home–in my soul, actually. My wife and I need to be the kind of people who embody faith in every aspect of life. It’s how we treat strangers. It’s how we talk about people who aren’t in the room–especially people with whom we may not fully agree. It’s our deeds and our words and our inner predisposition.

  1. Connect to a community of faith–in my case, a church–where other people are doing the same thing, and allow them to help with the parenting process.

Asking other Christians to intentionally mentor our son is one way to mitigate the problem of family systems. See, no matter how hard Kaile and I try, we will unwittingly pass on our bad habits to our son. In our tradition, it’s called “sin.” When we humbly admit our own issues and permit other people to speak into our child’s life, there are new opportunities for transformation, and we trust and pray that God will work through our community.

We cannot foist faith on our children; instead, we invite.


And the alternative is terrifying. Think about how many systems for understanding the world exist! Peruse a newspaper or Flipboard or Instagram or turn on the tube and you’ll be greeted with a host of organizations seeking to disciple your child and offer their spiritual wisdom:

*Exercise is the key to happiness!

*Money is the goal, for it brings about so much opportunity for relationships!

*The right job will bring you the sense of purpose your heart longs for!

If we are unintentional with our childrens’ faith formation, we leave the task to the next most attractive influencer. Maybe their peers will be the ones who guide them in uncertain paths. Maybe it will be a really nice group of people that get lost in mind-altering substances. Maybe it will be a questionable website. Maybe they’ll stumble into Zoroastrianism. Hard to say, isn’t it?

I think we’ll introduce Silas to Jesus.

Top 10 Things I Learned in Seminary [#4]

Here is the next installment of my little reflection series on my six years of theological study in the seminary context. I have also, of course, been influenced in my writing by ministry experience within two different faith communities.

My focus here is on the two most important Sacraments for Christians: baptism and communion.


Let’s face it. We live in a transient world.

My iPhone was slated to be out of date about a year from the date of its release. Apple’s calendar for new products moves almost as fast as seasonal fashion updates. Interior design may be a bit slower, but pretty much everything in our culture is rapidly shifting.

Undeniably, this has psychological consequences.

When we move so quickly, we miss out on things. Personally, I think tattoo culture grows out of this. Not going to lie; I love tattoos. Done right, they’re just so cool.

But why is it that we desire tattoos?

I’d like to make the case that part of our [and my] interest in the permanency of tattoos is on account of the impermanence of other fixed realities in the world. We’re always going to be transitioning to a different area, moving into a new friend group, trying a new app, purchasing a new piece of technology.

Baptism is altogether different than all of this.

Communion is also entirely unique.

I’ll take a stab at explaining. Water is ubiquitous, at least in the Midwest. We in the West usually don’t turn on our faucets each day wondering whether there is enough water to push through and give us clean hands or a cold drink.

We are not disquieted by an evening sip of red wine. Neither are we overwhelmed by a quick sandwich at lunchtime.

But in the context of Christian worship, our senses are opened to new realities when we witness baptism and communion. Let me talk about why this is the case.

Water cleanses, purifies, refreshes, and sustains. Jesus, according to Scripture, is living water.

Physical water points us to the living reality that we call God.

The waters wrapping the earth are powerful indeed. Scientists tell us the oceans slowly circulate, and every 500 years, like a giant game of tag, they all trade places. Deepest waters from the North Atlantic collect in an enormous basin as cold, salty water from Greenland and Norway sinks. This pushes the warmer waters south, between the Americas to the West and Europe and Africa to the East, until it hits the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which pushes the water east, where it circulates. The Pacific contributes greatly to the drama, adding sun-warmed water that winds up back in the North Atlantic.

How many glasses of water have I drunk over the years whose molecules once also nourished Jesus during his time on earth? Maybe those lively atoms helped to wash him in the more ancient Jordan River as he emerged from his own baptism or quenched the thirst of the disciples as they shared a Thursday evening meal with Jesus before his death.

When I think about my own experience of baptism, it was the muddy waters of the Muskegon River coursing Westward out of Houghton Lake and on to Lake Michigan that cleansed me. The people who had spiritually nurtured me during my earlier years sang hymns in the same sun that warmed Saint Augustine as he wrote and guided a community in North Africa. There is a deep spiritual connectedness to which the Sacraments, communion and baptism, point.

Paul says in baptism we are buried with Christ, then raised with him. We often think of this in a profound spiritual sense, and we are right to think this way. But in the Sacraments we also experience physically the connection we have with him. If baptism and communion were two arms, I would picture them holding with one hand on the physical world, and with the other holding the hand of Jesus incarnate. Somehow the wind of the Holy Spirit would blow, and the presence of the Father would be tangibly felt.

When we see these actions in the church, may our imaginations soar.

My imagination soared when my wife and I took our son, Silas, to be baptized. At three months, we as a church placed him gently at the feet of God, knowing we cannot open his eyes to see God on our own, but that we can do our best show him the path.

Over his wide open blueberry eyes, our pastor’s tender hand imprinted a tiny cross that dripped gently across his smooth forehead.

Silas Everett

And I wondered who had been baptized in that same water. John Wesley? Bonaventure? Saint James? Dietrich Bonhoeffer?

For sure, our precious Silas Everett Videtich. May he forever live into that sacramental reality.

God is a Parent.

I had a realization the other day. I was staring at our little 3-week-old, Silas and trying to get him to stare back at me and respond to me. Turns out, as you may know, that newborn babies don’t develop the ability to maintain eye contact until something like 6 or 8 weeks.


Thing is, between Kaile and me, we have been attending to every little detail of Silas’s life, every since he came out. He certainly doesn’t realize it yet, but we have been looking after his every need. We are probably not the best parents the world has seen, but we are at least present.

This experience is teaching me about how God sees us. No, we don’t always realize how much he wants to hear from us. No, we don’t always grasp that he is caring for us. But there he is. There he has been, all along. When we’re wondering how we are to find meaning and purpose and identity, or shelter and food and companionship, there he is. When we are tired of the daily commute, our boss, our dirty house, our yet-unaccomplished life goals, there he is.

Psalm 33:14-15+18-22 speaks on this:

“The Lord looks down from heaven; he sees all the children of man;

14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out

on all the inhabitants of the earth,

15 he who fashions the hearts of them all

and observes all their deeds.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,

on those who hope in his steadfast love,

19 that he may deliver their soul from death

and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;

he is our help and our shield.

21 For our heart is glad in him,

because we trust in his holy name.

22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,

even as we hope in you.

Parents and Children: Part 2.

In my last blog post, I revealed how I spent significant time in rebellion from my parents-about 2 years, actually. Between 2003 and late 2005, I failed to recognize how much my parents loved me and sought the absolute best for me. Eventually, God graciously helped me to eventually see plainly the concern they both have for me.

If you took time to read my previous post, you are now thinking one of two things: 1. “You dummy. Everyone should be thankful for their parents.” or, 2. “You dummy. Do you not realize that other people have strained parent relationships, bad parents, or no parents at all?”

Those are valid points! Many of us have some kind of difficulties with parents at some point in our lives, especially during certain growing-up years. Ages 12-19 may be the toughest. But it is not the case that the problem generally lies with the child. Some of us really do have terrible parents who do not care at all for us, or who are entirely absent from us. If this is your situation, I lament with you. 

I have numerous friends and connections who have strained parental relationships; indeed, some have no parents. One friend comes to mind whose father committed adultery with a family friend. Imagine the difficulties this Christian family has endured. Another friend has a mother with severe depression, and a father who refuses to get her treatment because of his beliefs. Imagine watching all of this while slowly becoming an adult; how utterly painful. Another friend, considerably younger than me, lives with his overworked mother. She has numerous children with various men. This friend has never had a consistent father figure, much less a mother who is around often enough to truly listen. 

It is indeed a broken, splintered world we inhabit. 

For followers of Jesus, there is a long-term hope: Jesus, our brother in humanity [Bible, New Testament, Hebrews 2] and our intercessor in divinity [Bible, New Testament, Colossians 1:15-20], connects us to the family of God. This does not right every wrong at this very moment, but it reveals the coming world of God. In God’s kingdom, divisions between people will cease, even between parents and children. Justice will be established for all-yes, for families too. Paul, an important leader in the early church, draws this God-as-a-parent concept out in Romans 8:12-17. God reveals that we are adopted as children. Eventually we become heirs, with our brother/savior, Jesus, of all the good that God has stored up for those who follow him.

New Life

However you understand the concept of family and the parental relationship, know today that God is your parent. Know too that God never intended families to be divided. Our relationship issues have their source in our own human failures-our sin as it is described in the Bible. The good news is that the wrongs are eventually made right. The last book in the Bible, Revelation, tells us how God, through Jesus, is making all things new [Revelation 21:5].  

It is a new year, and with it can come a fresh turn of events and a change in our inner emotions. Could this be the year we allow God in to begin healing our most painful relationships?

Whatever good or bad came through your relationship with your human parents, we can all look to God as our ultimate parent. If you were fortunate enough to have good parents, be thankful for them. If you did or do not, again, I lament with you. But together, we look forward to the coming day when God makes all things new and good and right-including family relationships. 

5 Things I Pray for as a Soon-to-be-Dad.

rabbit family


My wife, Kaile [pronounced Kay-lah for those of you who do not know her], is in week 30 of our first pregnancy. Related to this, there are lots of new concepts and concerns that nothing but writing seems to remedy.

As you read this, you are likely judging me. It is ok! I expect that. I am not naïve enough to think all of these are going to work out just like I hope they will work out. But I do pray for these things. I do desire some iteration of each of these to be made real in my life.

Here they are:

5. Fun Times with Baby

Come on. Who doesn’t love babies? I look forward to having a little person to laugh with [eventually] or even at [more likely]. While our newborn baby thinks to him/herself “my caretakers are supremely ridiculous,” I will be having a great time making faces and cooing as our little one does the baby version of rolling one’s eyes, knowing how utterly silly we both are.

Hopefully all of us will be better off for it.

4. Stronger Connections with other Parents

As recent as this month, people have still mistaken me for a college, or even high school student. At 27, this has gotten old. Maybe it’s the hair. I should begin to comb it sometime. Point sustained. The reality is, I am married. We own a house and a couple cars. We travel. We chose, together, not to have a dog [aha! maybe that’s why it’s hard to imagine me as an adult?].

I look forward to having that connection with others who are currently raising or have already raised children. To experience a significant change in the life journey is to enter into the process of sense-making with others. We will soon be able to compare the narrative of family life with others who are doing the same thing. Eventually, Kaile and I will be able to say, “yeah, that’s great insight on how you disciplined your child,” even if that technique didn’t work for ours. We’ll be able to say to others, “yeah, little [insert name] did okay with potty-training, but junior high was pretty rough.” You get the gist; we will be able to relate in new ways with billions of people.

Oh-it will also be nice to get a little bit more respect about my age.

3. A New Process for Spiritual Formation

For 25 of these 27 years, I have done spiritual formation as a single person. My journey as one of Jesus’s millions of disciples had been done in a certain single kind of way. That changed once when I got married, and will soon change yet again. Soon, I will need to recognize new ways of understanding the journey. This will likely consist of whispering prayers over our child as she/he sleeps. It will involve learning how to apologize to a 7-year-old. It will involve answering questions not as an absolute authority, but as someone who has experienced the hope of God.

It will also surely involve attempting to spiritualize diaper changes.

2. Stronger Bonds in My Marriage

Kaile and I know a new child will bring stress into our marriage. This, I think, is entirely unavoidable. However [go ahead-judge me!], there is also an opportunity to grow. Even writing the previous sentence fills me with wonder. How will Kaile and I learn to depend on one another? How will the challenge of rearing a child bring us toward a greater sense of purpose? How will we come to understand, in a new way, how God blesses the poor in spirit [Matthew 5:3]?

I imagine sitting next to Kaile on a park bench or, heaven forbid, airplane, trying to hush our screaming child. How can we weather that experience and learn to trust one another and receive one another’s input?

For the record, I do not know the answers to these questions. But I think they’re worth asking.

1. A Deeper Knowledge of God’s Love

I still remember a pastor in Chicago sharing a story about his three-day-old son. He reflected on how little the infant had done: “…my son hasn’t done anything! But that’s not why I love him! I love him because he exists!” He went on to make a joke about his son’s breastfeeding tendencies and how that was affecting his [cough cough] intimacy, a joke that he immediately regretted. Needless to say, it was a stressful week for him.

The point about his son stuck with me, though. God does not love us because we enter into the world and cause all kinds of transformation. Most of us are not bubbling fountains of kindness, and we wouldn’t hold a candle to the saints of old. But God didn’t love Mother Teresa or John Wesley or the new pope because of their good deeds. He created us out of love, and he keeps loving us because… well… he just does. He’s God.

I don’t know how my parenting abilities will play out when the rubber meets the road. But I do know that I’m committed. If our child grows up and becomes a promiscuous drug addict, I have to hope that God teaches Kaile and me more about his love, his unconditional, “it’s because I’m God” kind of love. Because we exist, he loves us. He’s God, and he just does that.

To hold a child-our own child-could drive this point home.