The scene is all too familiar. It's Sunday morning. You're ready for church, Bible and keys in hand. Your teenager isn't quite so eager. Maybe she drags her feet getting ready, hoping you'll decide it's not worth going if you're going to be late anyway. Maybe he gets defiant and simply refuses. You don't want to lay down the law if you don't have to, but you do want to get to church on time.
Inspiring Your Teen
Model the kind of attitude about church you want to see in your teenager. You can't expect your teen to be eager to go to church if you approach it as an obligation yourself. Attitudes are contagious and even if your teen doesn't mirror your attitude right away, your example might have a better effect in the long run than anything you could say.
Model the importance of religion in your life throughout the week. Look for opportunities to bring it up during regular conversations with your teen. Incorporate what you learn in church into your daily activities with your teen. For example, if last week's sermon was about the Good Samaritan, you and your teen could look for opportunities to help others in need.
Engage your teen in a discussion about the sermon. Ask open-ended questions regarding what he thought about what the pastor said, then allow him to answer. Don't judge the answer. If you want to inspire your teen to go to church and actually get something out of it, it's better to engage in nonjudgmental dialog about what he thinks about the church's message than to argue about whether he's right or wrong.
Encourage your teen to get involved with the church's youth group. Teens who go to church by choice do so for much the same reasons that adults do -- they derive inspiration and they find a community they can be a part of. When teens have meaningful relationships with people their own age at church, they might have a better attitude about going.
Start a youth group if your church doesn't already have one. Any layperson with a heart for teenagers can start an informal youth group. Plan for an hour and a half or so per week for a fun activity and a quick devotional study, preferably one that encourages the teens to give input and discuss the topic. Most denominations have age-appropriate devotional materials.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images