“It’s so BORING.”
“Why can’t I just sleep in?”
“But none of my friends go to youth group!”
“I don’t get anything out of the Bible study, what’s the point?”
“I have too much homework to go to small group tonight?”
“I would rather help in the nursery.”
Parents, we have heard it all (amirite)? Ok, my kids aren’t teenagers yet, but my husband is a youth pastor and I get the privilege to reach out to young people alongside him for the glory of God. And I too, have heard all of these statements about “lame church.”
I get it, personally even. I was the kid who “helped” in the nursery for countless Sunday’s because I didn’t want to sit through the sermon. As a teen, I didn’t go to youth group because I was the awkward homeschooled girl intimidated by my gorgeous older sister’s cool friends.
Statistics show us that at least half of students raised in a Christian home who at one point claim to have accepted Christ as Savior will turn away from the Christian faith after high school graduation. This number is not ok with me.
Thankfully, research shows us a significant factor for those that maintain their walk with God into adulthood: they have at least 5 Christian adults investing specifically in the student’s relationship with God. (source)
Churches used to employ the “bouncer” approach to youth–have one adult for every 5 kids at the pizza night. Now, we strive to connect every 1 student to 5 caring and Christ-centered adults who will walk the faith journey with them.
For example, Kadee’s 5 might be:
- Small group Leader
- Christian coach
- Youth pastor
And let me say, this is not easy. Especially when kids present the “lame church” excuses.
May I suggest that, often the kids who claim “church is lame” are truly “lame” themselves.
Hear me out. Mark 2:1-12 tells us the story of a lame man, stuck on his mat, unable to get to Jesus for healing and abundant life. Four friends were willing to hoist him on his bed, carry him through the city, dig a hole through a roof, attach some belay cables to the lame man’s bed and lower him down to Jesus. This was no small effort.
Adolescents are children moving toward adulthood. They haven’t arrived yet (have any of us?). However, they are still capable of a beautiful, intimate, world-changing relationship with God. But in order to get there, some teens will need a faithful 4 or 5 to help them get to Jesus. As a parent, you are the most influential one of those 5, and you have a significant amount of power in helping find the other 4.
Help for the Lame Teen
So how do you pry the video game controller from your teen’s “paralyzed” hands and usher her into a fighting chance at a relationship with Jesus? Here are a few practical ideas:
I dare you to pray Ephesians 3:14-21, on your knees, every day for your teen, and see what God does.
Send a Message:
Does your teen see that YOU believe their faith is important? Do we encourage our daughters and sons to have a Bible study or time spent with God? Dowe sit down with them, not just to help with homework, but to unpack Gods word together? Have we put youth group on the calendar so we don’t forget, even when they claim they do?
Try it out! Ask your son or daughter the following question: “What do you think is the most important part of your life to me?… Why?”
If needed, adjust which priorities you promote for your child through conversation, social media posts, rules and expectations, or praise.
Make your own walk with God available for the watchful eyes of your kids. Our prayer times can be so intimate when we finally get a quiet, private moment. Unfortunately, our children cannot pick up on habits they have not seen in practice. They can only mirror or imitate what they have visual access too.
Phone a Friend:
Prayerfully invite 3 or 4 other faith-heroes to invest in the life of your teen. Look outside your own peer group. I have seen powerful life-changes through the relationships of senior women who disciple teen girls into Godly womanhood.
Shift the Power:
Is your teen still complaining about lame church? Place the power on their shoulders. One mom always reminded her teenage boys every Sunday night before youth group, “remember, it’s not fun unless YOU make it fun.”
It’s true, kids set the tone for “cool” long before the youth pastor can. And believe me, he is trying. But in the end, we are not here to entertain, we are here to facilitate closer relationships with the living and loving God.
So encourage your teen to be the one that “blows it up” by inviting friends, baking cookies, or simply just asking good questions. Remind them of their power and influence to make church “the” place to be. Encourage them to take ownership of their faith community and invest in it. We all need to remember: church is not for us, church is us.
I understand, no-where in the Bible does it say a student has to attend church or youth group to have a relationship with God. However, the Bible is clear that fellowship with God’s family is not only a crucial part of having a healthy relationship with God, it is also a crucial part of having a healthy relationship with God that lasts. If you think about it, it is easy to stray away when you are always on the fringes of community; however, it is more difficult to stray away when you’ve been sitting at the table of God’s family.
Ultimately, I am not suggesting you drag your teenager on his mattress to church this Sunday. And please don’t dig a hole in in the roof of the youth leaders house. But somehow consider how you might put in a lame-man’s-friend type of effort to escort your teenager to a closer walk with Jesus. For his sake, both now and for the next 10-50 years of his life.