Is it Important for Youth to Attend Church with Their Parents?

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At one of my previous churches where I was a youth pastor, the lead pastor did not want us to pull students out of church for our own youth service.  I now attend a church that has a church plant right on the same campus and some students prefer to go to this service, rather than the regular church service.  We are getting pushback from parents who want their children in church with them.  So am I way off base in thinking that these parents need to back off and allow the students to attend the services where they feel most connected and involved in their worship?

I understand that parents like to have their students in church with them.  I like that too.  It’s cool to look down the aisle and see my boys worshiping with my wife and me. Then I see what happens when they attend the church plant and get actively involved in the worship experience, and I need to step back and rethink my intentions about having my children in church for me. I have to admit that having my children in church with me is something I like.  But what they desire is a worship service where they participate and actively worship in a way that works for them.  (Ok, so they also like the loud band that plays the worship music.)

I suspect many youth pastors have felt this same tension.  Do you get pushback when you hold a youth service?  If you take the students to another church or a worship event, do you get complete support from parents?  How do you respect the parents while also accomplishing what a youth leader needs to do and that’s to lead youth in the congregation and help them move into a close relationship with Jesus Christ? Most of the time, that happens within the existing church, but what about those times when it happens best somewhere other than your church?

Worship is so much more than just making sure we are in church once or twice a Sunday for 60-75 minutes.  Many of our youth do understand that…maybe better than their parents.

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Thank-you Paul for raising this issue.

First and foremost it is our responsibility as parents to attend church with our children. We promised when we baptized, to do our best, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in raising our children to serve the Lord. It is our privilege to worship as a family.

It is the church's responsibility to support the family, not take the place of the family. I think the services you are suggesting are fine but hold them at a different time then the regular worship service.

Thanks

Great post.

It may be driven by the consumer mentality... but at the heart of it, they want to buy something. Shouldn't we, as adults, do everything we can to nurture that desire? And, why do the adults get to choose the church?

 

Anywhere the gospel is celebrated, let us gather there.

I have four children--20, 18, 16 & 14. It has always been a rule in our household that our children attend church. When they were unable to drive, they all came to "our" church. Once they were allowed to drive and took on the responsibility of owning their own cars, we gave them the choice of going to the church of their choosing. We have always made our faith known to our children, praying that they, also, would come to a personal faith in Jesus. We read and discuss the Bible with them on a daily basis.

Two years ago our, now, 16 year old told us that he was agnostic. Upon questioning, he admitted that he believed in a Creator God but was not sure who Jesus is to him. Our kids all attend(ed) Christian School and this son's decision has caused difficulty not only at home, but at school.

We love all our children and honestly hope that they may come to a saving knowledge of our God. When our second oldest got married, she and her new husband searched and found a church in which they can genuinely learn more about the God they believe in and profess. Our oldest, on the other hand, moved out and has chosen to no longer attend church although he says he continues to believe in God. You know about our third child. Our youngest is tired of feeling pressured to believe as we do and "simply doesn't care about it right now" (his words).

As parents, we face a dilemma. On the one hand, it remains a rule that if you live in our home you go to church. On the other hand, "our" church does not engage our children in their worship style. What do we do?

Our 16 year old, despite all his doubts, continues to assert that "church" is NOT a building. He is so very right! "Church" is the people. We encourage our children to meet and spend time with others who share our faith; where they can sing and dance and praise the Lord. Does that mean they must attend the building where my husband and I worship?

Personally, through much prayer and tears, I believe that I must give them all up to the Lord who loves them infinitely more than I do. I only have them for a time, while He has them forever. As much as possible, my husband and I have provided a strong foundation of faith. Where our children go from here is entirely in God's hands. The rules of our household will remain, but where they worship needs to be where they find God. I'd love for them to find Him where I worship but, for right now, that's not working for them. The youngest will still be with us for a time, but the others? God has them now. May He provide for them that which they really stand in need of--a place to spend time with Him.

a-vberg,

 Thanks for honoring us with your painful story. Your correct that they are in the Lords hands now and before. Bag the rule as peace offering to open the door to more dialogue. Then expose your relationship with Jesus to him. I may not work right away, but validate them if they believe in Jesus. What do you have to lose?

  I have first hand experience and I truly believe that from what you have told us he struggles with the apparent hypocricy of the church He doesn't undetrstand that we are all depravaed and rely on Grace.. Believe in your prayers because I feel your pain and I believe God is right there with your children. I believe God hears you. Enjoy the peace that comes with losing your control to hope and faith in Jesus.

Ken

Participant

I have been very encouraged by seeing young people (and in my case many in their 20's) with a heart to worship Him more...the local prayer center I am involved with, has 7-10 worship and prayer missionaries - most in their 20's -  who spend 10-40 hours a week in worship and prayer...One friend in this age group was asked what she liked to do in her spare time...Her response was - "worship God", and she does.

I sense that God is putting a fire in this generations heart for worship, and that we, as families and churches, need to pray for Him to lead us into additional times of worship where this generation has the opportunity to express themselves under the direction of the Holy Spirit in the worship, instead of almost exclusively being directed by adults.   I sense a "chomping at the bit" from the youth  to be more involved in the worship.   It is a very powerful experience to see how the Holy Spirit orchestrates a worship gathering, both through the planning (it's not just picking favorite songs), and then through His spontaneous promptings during the service, and to hear the testimonies of how the Holy Spirit "spoke" to different people in different ways through the worship, and often in the same song.

2 different people, within 15 minutes of each other, at 2 different gatherings expressed their excitement over an opportunity to worship for 2 hours -  extended times of worship...again, I see this heart for worship being stirred up, particularly in this generation, but we have to ask the LORD for His guidance on what this will look like (the verse the LORD put on my heart this week is Is. 28:29  NKJV - This comes from the LORD of hosts, Who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance)...  

I know in our community we have an abundance of gifted musicians and I believe the reason is for increased worship.  We need to steward these giftings, as in help them have opportunities to use them for the Kingdom...  it reminds me of the tabernacle of David, where worship was going on day and night at the temple.  In Acts 15, God shares that He is restoring David's tabernacle/tent (depending on version) - think Days of Elijah v2 - and these are the days of His servant, David, rebuilding a temple of praise!    We are all hardwired - designed, with a need that what we do is meaningful, and worship is!

We have seen several beautiful ministries flow out of the prayer center that were birthed from the worship and prayer times...  We have experienced incredible testimonies of Divine timing that could not be humanly orchestrated...the statistical probability of the convergence of events is basically impossible...  we have testimonies of  salvations and  healings, we have seen abortion rates drop and adoptions double in our county, we have seen our unemployment rate be one of the lowest in the state, if not the lowest, we have seen Godly leaders elected in our county- in a state (WA) that is known for being very liberal, and one of the least churched states in the US, these were not easy wins, but Praise God, He is making them happen as we labor in prayer with Him, and offer up our hearts in worship to Him... and we have seen beautiful growth in believer's walk with the LORD, where their faith is becoming a delight instead of a duty...they're  growing closer in their relationship with King Jesus...  HALLELUJAH!!! 

LORD, restore Your tabernacle of Praise, where Your Name is being lifted up 24/7...

Liberals like to worship God for extended time also Bev. Some of the best Christain teachers at LCS are liberal also. My daughter is one those talented kids for Christ who is a leader in her school. Lets leave the politic;s out of our judgements before this divide becomes greater.

I am a proud liberal!!

Participant

Sorry Ken, didn't even think about the political aspect... there are good things about each political group and there are negative things about each, so let's pray that God brings forth the goodness in each, and pushes back what is not from Him in each...that He purges, cleanses and redeems these systems of politics and the government...but of course, may He start with our hearts...

Participant

ps...thanks for the confirmation, through your daughter, of gifted musicians/worshippers in this area...I (and others) are praying into the opportunity to increase their worship participation in different ways so that there will be several locations in the county where worship is going on 24/7...    Jesus, may Your Name be lifted up 24/7 in Whatcom County, and the United States and the whole world for that matter...

Perhaps the most important question to ask is "why?"

Why do the kids feel more connected and have a stronger desire to worship at the church plant? Is it worship style? Is the regular preacher at the church plant better at reaching younger listeners? What other factors lead them to feel more connected and engaged in worship there? Perhaps there are ways to consider these factors and make some changes to worship to better engage students at the service their parents want them to attend.

Also, why are the parents so adamantly against separate worship (or for family worship)? I'm certainly not trying to suggest that the parents are wrong. Not at all. Rather, I just want to suggest that it bears some thought over their motivation for requiring that the family worship together. Perhaps the family can attend the church plant together part of the time. Perhaps there could be a compromise reached where the students can attend the church plant sometimes and attend worship as a family other times.  Perhaps there is an age for their teens at which the parents would consider this appropriate as a stepping stone to a future time when they will be on their own and making an independent choice where to worship (or even if to worship.)

It's been quite some time since I was in high school, but I clearly remember feeling more engaged in worship at school chapels and summer camps than I did on any average Sunday (except the token annual service where the youth group planned worship.) I sympathize with teens who feel that their parents church lacks relevance for their lives, but worry that if that is their only experience, they will lump all churches together in the irrelevant pile and walk away altogether.

An observation that I borrow from someone long ago:  "who told them they were naked" when they worship with their parents?

I was interested to hear a "youth leader" from another denomination emphatically and specifically state that their organization was "intentional" in supporting the worship and congregational life of the parents of the young people they served.  One of the Ten Commandments was mentioned.

Do Amish young people have the same need?

Recent articles have popped up about pastors of predominantly under-30 church plants, lamenting that their congregational life is artificially truncated:  no funerals, no elderly to be assisted and/or offer guidance.

Participant

One of the "spheres'  we pray for specifically is for the family unit...  the family is under intense attack from the enemy particularly the males (one of the answers to prayer is this new movie "Courageous" coming out by the same church that did Facing the Giants and Fireproof, it's about men taking up and walking in the authority of their God given roles), and every time the enemy can break up the family, keeping the God ordained family unit from a meaningful, Kingdom focused activity such as worshipping and praying together, he scores in some way.    Look at the evening family meal, how rare that is in many homes...   and yet studies have shown that is one of the key aspects to a healthy childhood. 

My husband and I will fight for the honor to worship together as a family.  We will also encourage them to find worship opportunities in addition to the Sunday services and allow them freedom to express their worship in our church.   I am very thankful that our church incorporates the youth regularly into the service...  my daughter (she's 5) will dance in the back of church - there's a little nook that she can dance freely in, so she's not distracting anyone... at other worship gatherings outside the CRC, the kids dance with flags and/or instruments or just dance.   We have tables set up for kids to draw - not just busy work, but what we call "prophetic art" during the service as worship is going on... at one that is specifically for kids,  they can sing at the mic.  (there are some guidelines of course).    We pray that as our kids are heading into the teen years, they will have experienced God via His Holy Spirit in many ways already (they already have amazing testimonies of promptings through scripture that the Holy Spirit helped them use for guidance in various situations, we share with them how God has helped us financially in unextpected ways, so "seeing" God work is pretty normal for them, I will be talking to someone and they will encourage me to share a confirmation of something the LORD has put on my heart earlier, or an answer to prayer, my daughter (5) will ask to drive by the casino so we can pray for all the people that are having their money "stolen", and that it will be a place where people pray to God instead).    Kids' worship is very powerful, based on Ps. 8:2...  out of the mouths of children and infants, I have ordained (strong) praise because of Your enemies to silence the foe and the avenger...   it makes the enemy flee... 

so, let's pray for Holy Spirit inspired opportunites in our services and outside our services, to increase the worship from children/youth.  and also pray that the family unit will be strenghthened through worship time and prayer time together...