Health & Medical Adolescent Health

How to Help Your Teen Stay in Church and Youth Group

Why do parents allow their teens to quit youth group? In the last five years, my husband and I have asked ourselves this question over and over.
We have watched kids who were very involved and enthusiastic about their faith early on desert the youth group for one reason or another.
Not just at our church, but at many others as well.
Both parents and teens have many excuses to offer, but nothing more.
Clearly parenting teens involves guiding choices they make, not making the choice for them, but parents still have to proactively think about this if they want their teen to avoid becoming a statistic: The Barna Group's research of faith patterns with young adults concludes that although most young people don't necessarily lose their faith, about 4 out of 10 young Christians drop out of conventional church involvement.
At the risk of simplifying a more complicated issue, I see a correlation between a teen's church attendance and parents' approach to church and youth programs.
If you would like to help your kids change these statistics, try some of the following ideas:
  1. Start as early as you can in setting the expectation.
    Just as you have rules about other important behaviors in your home, make it clear that church involvement is part of your family's core values.
    If youth group is regarded as a privilege that kids can look forward to as they become tweens, just as they consistently go to church and Sunday school when they are young, then the more likely your child will know this is a non-negotiable before it ever becomes an issue.
    The catch with this of course is that you do have to be consistent with your own church-going and faith-living.
  2. Get involved! Volunteer with the youth group before your kids are old enough to be in it by hosting a group in your home, leading a bible study, or simply using your youth group kids as babysitters and yard workers.
    Not only does it allow you to influence a high schooler, but it allows teens to be influential on your child.
  3. Help your teen find a mentor.
    Most youth groups have some amazing volunteers; talk to them about your desire to keep your child connected and invite them to dinner, to a family outing, or your child's game or performance.
    Most volunteers will respond well to your proactive attempt to involve them in your child's life, though they won't force it.
  4. Talk it through.
    If your student is frustrated with the youth group, find out why.
    Encourage him/her to work out their problems with the group and the youth pastor.
    It is important not to accept excuses but offer solutions.
    This way you will be helping them with the valuable skill of not quitting something that could in the long run greatly influence them for their own betterment and future involvement in church.

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