It's normal for your teenager to start testing their boundaries and declaring their independence from family activities, but church is one area where you don't want to give any ground. Spirituality should be nurtured throughout one's entire life, especially the turbulent years of adolescence.
If you're currently struggling with a teen who just doesn't seem interested in God anymore, here are seven tips for steering them back on track and into the light of the Lord.
1: Look Into Youth Groups
Most churches have some kind of youth program where your teen can read, worship and socialize with other people their own age, a much more welcoming environment than pews of silent spectators all old enough to be their parents. If a youth group doesn't already exist at your church, encourage your child to spearhead one.
2: Start A Project
A lot of teens grow frustrated with Sunday sermons because they "don't see the point" or "could be doing other things with their time." By starting some kind of community project, like a clean-up, soup drive or outreach program, you'll give them a sense of purpose, something that makes church worth the trip. They'll have a goal to focus on and a cause they can look forward to furthering every week.
3: Find Hip Pastors
It may not be the preaching they object to, just the delivery system. An older pastor might be seen as uncool or out of touch with contemporary teen culture. Look for a fun, understanding spiritual leader who can really connect with a younger audience and find them back into the fold, like the Creative Pastors Ed Young.
4: Embrace New Media
Just because they outgrew picture books of David and Goliath doesn't mean they're ready for the full and heavy text of scripture. Buy a "common English" Bible so your child can fully understand the words, warnings and messages of God. Arrange for Bible studies with friends and other members of the church.
5: Encourage Involvement
Get your teen re-interested in church by letting them come up with their own unique ways to contribute. For example, you might not have thought of remixing a Lady Gaga song with traditional Christian hymns, but it might be a really fun project for the youth choir.
6: Answer Questions
Teens are quick to point out any flaws or perceived weaknesses in your faith, which is why you'll so often find yourself at the end of pointed questions like "Isn't it sexist that Eve was blamed more than Adam?" and "Why is there suffering in the world if God is so great?" Instead of taking these questions as an attack, think of them of signs of intelligence and critical thinking, and answer them to the best of your ability. If you don't have an answer, admit that it's a thought-provoking inquiry and that you'll have to pose it to the minister next Sunday.
7: Ask For Help
If all else fails, simply ask your teen what you can do to make their church experience a better one. You might be surprised by the answer you get back! Regular dialogue can become a great tool in understanding your child's mindset and guiding them back to God's path, so keep an open channel of communication for their questions, opinions and concerns.