Do you have teens complaining about attending church? Are you frustrated at your church youth program for your kid? Do you question whether you should force your teen to attend church or just let them stay home? Starting to doubt whether you’ll be successful in passing your faith on to your kids?
Recently, I was asked to talk about keeping our teens in church and what I discovered was a passion within me that I didn’t realize was so strong. I do want my kids to remain strong in their faith and I know that the body of Christ is an important part of spurring our teens on. Last week I wrote about the importance of adult community in the lives of our teens. Adult community is a cornerstone in helping our kids stay involved in church.
At astounding rates, 70 percent as quoted by Lifeway Research, young people seem to be leaving the church. The exodus tends to start around the age of 14 but picks up significantly during the 16-19 range.
While researchers will say that these young people, if well-grounded in their faith, will return when they start their own families, as parents most of us are concerned about the in-between phase. These are the years when our kids are trying to discover who they are. They are making major life decisions, not to mention the cultural influences they are bombarded with.
Let me suggest that rather than forcing our kids to go to church or allowing them to stay home, the real question is how do we still have relationship with our teens and woo them into attending church with us? How do we make faith such an integral part of who they are that they see the value in it?
Make it relevant.
According to the Lifeway Research, the kids that remain in church do so because they find it relevant to them. They will attend if they see some benefit of helping to make them a better person. Shaunti Feldhahn’s research in For Parents Only shows that most tweens and teens want to know our values – faith being one of them. One of our jobs as parents is to make it relevant seven days a week.
- Talk about the sermons and their relevance to your life and your child’s life.
- Let them see you reading your Bible during the week.
- Pray with your kids.
- Share your struggles (age appropriate) and how you are choosing to depend on God.
If the sermons you hear in church on Sunday morning aren’t relative to your kids’ day-to-day life, maybe it’s time to find a new church—even if it is only for a season.
A friend was struggling when her kids reached the teen years. Most Sundays she was tired of wrestling the kids out of bed to attend church or hearing the quips about the sermon topics, Ten Points of the Ancient Church, or something else that her kids had little interest in. Her husband loved the pastor’s sermons and felt he was gaining so much knowledge of scripture. Finally after much debate and watching her kids zone out on Sunday mornings, she and her husband agreed to allow their senior in high school to attend another church.
She was amazed at the change in her son on Sunday. Each week he would come home wanting to share what he had heard at his new church. Within two months their son was asking if they would attend his church with him! Not only did he miss attending with his parents, but he was learning things that he could apply to his life.
“Allowing my son to venture off to a new church energized him to take his faith seriously. He became the initiator of our spiritual conversations and I saw a spiritual depth in him that I didn’t think existed. Of course we started attending with him!”
Do your kids push back on church attendance? Have you considered allowing them to change churches on their own? Would you consider attending a new church with them? I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ll be checking back to dialogue with you.
“Let go…and let God”,