Does your teen feel accepted at church?

Some of my favorite childhood memories are being involved in a church where I was loved, appreciated, noticed and felt part of a larger community than my family.

In the church, I had four or five significant relationships with other adults who took an interest in me and helped me feel connected to them and God.

The church taught me how persons cared for one another in times of joy and sorrow. Experiencing care and love from a church family adds meaning and purpose to life.

My parents never asked me if I wanted to go to church, just as they didn’t ask me if I wanted to visit my grandparents. We shared our lives with both our church family and extended family.

A good question parents must ask themselves is: “Have I invested in my church family so my kids see this love and caring community?”

If a child doesn’t want to go to church, it would be helpful to have an honest conversation to see if the child felt loved, appreciated and accepted for who they are.

They may be tired, and eliminating an activity other than church is the solution. Sometimes, families are so overscheduled, they haven’t made church a real priority.

As adult church members, we need to ask if we make ourselves available to kids and youth? Maybe you are the key to developing a child-nurturing church where every child feels loved, heard and appreciated.

— Dale Clem, First United Methodist Church, Anniston

Are parents setting the right example?

There could be many reasons your teenager does not want to go to church. Here are some things to explore and consider.

Step 1: You may want to examine yourself to see if you are setting a positive example for them to follow. The Bible reads, “follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). If you are not walking according to the word of God, they may think church has no purpose.

Step 2: Find out who your children are hanging around to see how they are being influenced. The Bible tells us that bad company corrupt good manners (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Step 3: Communication is very important. Ask your teen why they do not want to go to church.

Step 4: Make sure your church has a youth ministry to keep your child engaged in church activities. If your church does not have a youth ministry, try to find one for them. You do not have to leave your church, but it is important to become involved in a youth ministry.

Ultimately, the Bible tells us that we should train up a child in the way they should go and when they grow old, they will not depart (Proverbs 22:6).

I personally believe in Proverbs 22:6. I have three daughters and at an early age I started them in church. As they became teenagers, church was a life they knew and embraced. In all that is stated above, I believe the most important thing is to keep your child covered in prayer.

— Winfred Logan, Heart to Heart Ministries