"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."
I think it's a problem when many parents hope to shelter their kids from the poisoning secular atmosphere for as much of their life as possible. Of course, there I go saying that, and I'm heading off to a Christian college for three years. But it might redeem me that I'll probably be getting my masters at a secular college haha :D. Rather, it is best that parents raise their kids, first in a good environment where they can learn to counter the secular ideas such as post-modernism, and then to allow kids to see and be submersed in secular culture. I think you should train your kids up in the ways of God, teaching them how righteousness and goodness is the most wonderful and joyful way to live- not even worldly righteousness-(recycling) (ok no just kidding haha, but rather worldly goodness), but heart satisfaction in the Glory of Christ.
As John Piper emphasized, "Don't let your kids leave the house with the attitude, 'How far can I go before I have to stop, because God is watching?', but rather let them leave your home with this attitude:'How, by any means, no matter what the cost, can I make God look glorious in my life? How can I serve the most high God?"
To sum it up, I think its best to train kids to counter secular ideas and pray that their hearts would find satisfaction in God, and then turn them loose in secular culture, in order that they, pure in heart, can love those who are lost and destroy the ideological strongholds of secular culture.
3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
That being said, how are you to train your kids up? That's the main thing I've been thinking about. You can talk about all this stuff, but in what ways can you contribute to your kid's spiritual formation while raising them? I'm just going to blahh a bunch of stuff out here and hopefully change it if necessary, but these are a couple things that I think are good honest goals.
The only way you can hope to accomplish anything for the hearts of kids is to first make changes/resolutions for yourself. So, here are my ideas:
Resolve to know and study every worldview within reach. Study the most formidable opponents to Christianity: (Atheism, Post-modernism,etc..), and be prepared to "give an answer" to each philosophy and show it to be faulty. Understand the emotional objections to Christianity. (suffering, emotional doubt, self-doubt, etc.) and have a heart for any and all who deal with them. Refuse to be ignorant of anything. Accept anything which is true, an maintain a high regard for all that is true, including scientific data which may prove something contrary to your worldview.
Love your family as Christ loved the church. Give yourself for your wife in every way- in mind, heart, and body. Hold nothing back. Any moment you find yourself trying to save part of yourself instead of giving it up to your family, take these thoughts and desires to God and make them captive to Christ. And, most of all, love your family with all your heart! Let no part of you become corrupted by sinful desires, but rather be renewed by "the renewal of your mind" and the truth and reality of Christ's love.
Pray/read with your family. Every day. Now, a family's devotion time together should never be the only devotion that they do, just as a husband and wife's time together in devotion should never be the sole time spent with God for each individual, but a family should ALWAYS have devotions together every day, if possible.
Forget Cable. Yes, it's important to know world news and stuff, but you can read that stuff on the internet. Of course, TV's for watching movies are awesome and a great thing to do, but cable leads to massive amounts of wasted time, and the stuff on cable these days, and likely in 20 years, will not be worth watching.
Talk to your family. Be open and one hundred percent transparent. Let all things you do be open for all to see, and keep no secrets. Have family talks (I suppose that would go with devotions)and speak to each kid in the family individually and ask them how their hearts are doing. Confess your failures (oh, and I'm sure my failures will be countless) with humility and work to start anew. Fight for your family's heart. If there is any sin in any person in the family, just as Paul said, gently bring them to repentance for their own joy.
How many times can one repeat it?? Love your wife! With everything you are, give your heart to her. Set an example for your kids! There is no end to the emphasis that could be put on this. Flee addictions to anything which would lead you away from her. Pursue her heart, adore her, give your whole heart to her. Enough said.
EDIT: Practical Additions:
1. Friday Night Dates
2. Confessing sins and shortfalls out loud.
Be Joyful. See the glory in everything. Sing and whistle and clap and make noise and make yourself look stupid and let your family join in! Be mindlessly, deliriously, goofy with your family and have fun in this wonderful world God has created!
Worship God with heart and mind and word and deed. What else is there to be said?
Those are the personal commitments that I would hope to have for my family. Now, there are further some things I would hope to do with kids, and I'll put those here:
Gradually introduce them to doctrine.
Ask them questions. J.P. Moreland constantly asks his daughters questions like, "Why should you be good to people?", or, "What makes humans unique?" (To which his daughters answered, "we all have belly buttons!!" HAHAHAH!!! ok ok,,) But the main goal here is to make them think about life, question basic assumptions, and get their brains in gear.
The next thing is to tell your kids to ask questions to YOU about Christianity and life in general. Have them write down all the questions that ever come to their mind, and talk with them about all of them.
I'll add more stuff to this as it becomes clear to me, but for now, this is my springboard.
I know all of this seems INCREDIBLY hard. And yes, just looking at it scares me. But what other kind of life would you want to live? Why not strive for the best and fall somewhere short of it than not strive for anything, and fall short of nothing? I know I'll fail multiple times. I know I'll mess up. But you can gradually introduce this stuff to family life, and I can absolutely guarantee you- just wait, and see the joy creeping into all of the family member's lives.