While it's frustrating when your teen no longer wants to go to church, it isn't uncommon. Yet helping your teenager develop a lasting faith can seem like an overwhelming challenge. Instead of forcing your teenager to go to church, you can make attending church a family commitment whereby you all strive to serve others.
Encourage your teen to get more involved in the different aspects of church life. Attending church services with you and the rest of the family is a start. Talk to other adult members in the church about reaching out to the youth in the congregation and making them feel welcome and part of the church's family. Perhaps, you can work together to form a new teen group that will be of interest to your teen as well as other teen church members.
Suggest that your teen invite a friend to worship or bible study. Getting other teens and youth leaders involved can create a greater sense of community and fellowship so she doesn't feel alone. Your teenager might be more willing to attend church activities if other teens her age do the same.
Talk to a children's Sunday school teacher and ask if your teen can teach some of the Sunday school lessons from a younger person's perspective. Allowing her to share her insights about familiar Bible stories might get her thinking more carefully about her own beliefs.
Find ways your teen can participate in the worship service. Ask her to volunteer to sing in the church choir, read litanies or be a greeter. Talk to the minister about inviting your teen and other youth in the church to offer ideas about the messages the sermons can share. In a Life in Student Ministry blog, national youth leader trainer Tim Schmoyer points outs that adding a teenager’s viewpoint can draw youth interest and get teens to listen more closely to what the minister is saying.
Point out the talents your teenager can use to serve others in the church and broader community. Like adults, teens need to feel like they are making a difference in the lives of others. Those who feel needed tend to commit more to their faith. But first, they must experience personally what it feels like to help others, points out Jim Burns, president of HomeWord, in an article for CBN.com.
Encourage your teenager to take an active part in the church’s ministry. By allowing teens to have some say in what the church does, you and other adult parishioners are showing interest in what they think. In return, they will feel like valued members of the congregation. Be a good role model by getting involved in the church's ministry yourself.
Invite your teenager to go along with the family to church social events. This gives her the opportunity to mingle with adults of all ages so that she can develop relationships with people other than her peer group. The Fuller Youth Institute College Transition Project notes that intergenerational relationships play a significant role in youths developing a lasting faith. Intergenerational activities allow church members to learn from and support each other regardless of age.
Support your teenager in his faith. Show him examples of your faith by the way you live to give him a better understanding of how to express his own faith.
Allow your teen to go on a mission trip. She will learn from positive role models as well as learn the value of teamwork. Missions give teens the opportunity to develop more confidence, build character and gain a sense of community -- all qualities that motivate individuals to serve in church ministries.