Keeping our teens in church can sometimes be a major point of stress for Christian parents. We realize the value of worship with other believers but we want our kids to find that same purpose for their lives. When our teens start rebelling about getting up on Sunday morning or complaining that it is boring or they don’t like the youth group, it’s a wake up call to make sure we are fully engaged.
If indeed our faith is important to us this rebellion needs to be handled with a Christ-like spirit of love and patience. We need to talk about our faith with our kids so that they see that we have a heart of relationship with a living God and we want to have that same relationship with them.
Parents need to assume that the church is there to help in their child’s spiritual development rather than to be the driving force. George Barna in his book Revolutionary Parenting makes the statement that “typical parents know little about the content and conduct of their church’s ministry to young people beyond details related to time and place.”
If we want to our kids to stay in church, we need to lay the foundation at home and make sure that the church is there to support our values and training of our teens in a way that provides depth in character and a deeper faith. While it is great when youth programs provide entertaining activities to help the kids get to know each other in a more relaxed environment, we need to find a church that focuses on their calling of being like Jesus and loving others in such a way as to woo them into the kingdom of heaven. If pizza parties and Frisbee golf or Lazar Tag ‘to bring them in’ is the church’s mentality, and all they are providing is friendship and fun, then as our kids get older they can find that same appeal from any group whether or not it is faith-based.
If we want our kids to remain in the church it is our job to make it an integral part of our parenting strategy as our kids enter the turbulent teen years. Making sure it is the right church is the key.
So what are the steps we should take when our kids start complaining about church?
- Don’t freak out.
- Create safety for them to share their frustrations with you.
- Ask permission to allow you to share a different perspective.
- Be prepared to problem solve with a spiritual perspective.
Several years ago my son was complaining about our church. He didn’t feel connected to the kids in the youth group partially because we lived in a different community. He knew some kids at a different church and asked to attend there.
We agreed to take him to the other church to try it out on Sunday mornings for a few weeks. I would attend the new church with my son and my husband attended our church with our other three kids.
The first week my son was enthralled with the new experience. He loved the new church and was convinced he had found the place where he belonged. A week later he attended an overnight event so that he could connect with the guys and have some male bonding. Within a month he was ready to return to our church. When he returned he was much more content and willing to engage.
Sometimes our kids just need to be heard. They need to know that we respect that they might not always like what we like in a given church and that our real desire is for them to cultivate a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Church should be a place where our teen can grow and thrive. Be open to the potential of a new church for a period of time if necessary. It will not only strengthen your child’s faith but will bolster his identity as he feels respected by you.
By feeling accepted and valued, your teen and soon-to-be twenty-something will most likely see the relevance of being part of the church long before they start having their own family. Hopefully, it will become a way of life.
“Let go…and let God”,
Sign up for our on-line eCourse which starts September 26, 2016. You’ll have an opportunity to go through the new book With All Due Respect:40 days to a more fulfilling relationship with your teens and tweens with me and a group of moms just like yourself. Learn and interact while gaining new communication skills. Be sure to get in on the discounted price while it lasts. I’ll be available for personal interaction in the class. Hope you’ll join me. Click here for more information.