Came across this today and wanted to share.
(For those coming to CORE on Sunday, read this- we are going to talk about it!)
Comment- what do you think? What are your thoughts on kids not going to church?
5 Reasons Teens Are Avoiding Church
Written by Shane Raynor 17 Comments
Last Updated: August 11, 2010
USA Today would have you believe that teenagers are staying away from church and youth group because they’re too busy.
I don’t buy the excuse that youth are busier now than they were ten years ago. Sure, there are technological distractions that didn’t exist then, but does anyone honestly think Facebook is the real reason kids aren’t going to church? Give me a break. If that were so, what does that say about how weak youth group has become?
The truth is, no one is ever too busy to go to church. Everyone on earth, rich or poor, gets the same 24 hours each day. Time is an equalizer– it doesn’t discriminate. People generally find the time to do what is important to them, and if they aren’t going to church, that just means church is not a top priority. So the idea of teens being too busy for church is mostly balderdash– they simply have other places they’d rather be. The truth hurts, doesn’t it?
I believe there are at least 5 reasons why churches are losing young people.
• Teens don’t show up because they don’t think God is showing up. And you know, they might be right. If the power of God isn’t moving in your church’s youth group beyond the free pizza and the basketball (or name your big draw), you’re eventually going to hit a wall. This is where churches really mess up, and I’m the world’s biggest offender. Gimmicks are like the dot com bubble of the late 90′s. Sooner or later, everyone wants substance, and if it isn’t there, they’re going to bail. There’s always going to be a church (or someplace else) with better pizza, a more talented band, a better gym and bigger crowds with hotter people. It’s okay to use draws, but you’d better have a good foundation for your ministry and back up the draw with something real.
• Teens don’t make church a priority because their parents don’t make it a priority. Too many families are either pulling out of church altogether, or they’re moving it so far down the list of things to do that it gets lost in the shuffle. Back in the day, we thought teenagers dropped out of church to rebel against their parents– but if we follow that logic, youth should be coming to church and youth group in droves now, because parents are dropping out. But that’s not happening. Remember, kids take cues from their parents. Soccer practice takes priority over church only because parents have allowed it to happen. Parents, make sure you pay close attention to my next statement. I’ve realized that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making teenagers go to church. You’re not going to turn them against Christianity. (That’s assuming, of course, that your church isn’t some abusive, cult-like nuthouse.) Man up and be your kid’s parent, not their friend. But before you do that, you might want to make sure you’re participating in worship and Bible study yourself. You’ll stand a better chance of avoiding the whole hypocrisy factor. Yes, your kid is still probably going to go through an anti-church phase when they finally get out of the house. But odds are, sooner or later they’ll be back. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
• Teens are very connected to each other now and don’t need church to hook up anymore. Since the beginning of Christianity, the church has coasted on the assurance that teenagers would at least come to church to see each other, if for no other reason. Well, now they have texting, Facebook and Myspace so they’ve effectively eliminated the middleman. Why would they want to come sit through a message just to hang out with friends when all their friends are now as close as their computer or cell phone? Real spiritual substance within community has to be the draw– not just community. Because there’s probably somewhere or something else that does community better than church. Sad but true.
• Unchurched teens see no significant difference between church kids and everyone else. This issue is bigger than you think. I’ve run into it over and over again. Put yourself in a teenager’s shoes– if one of the reasons they might go to church is to become a better person, what does it say to them when the church kids cuss as much, drink as much, do drugs as much and have sex as much as all the other kids? Suppose you were thinking about joining a diet program where the participants never lost any weight? Or a gym where no one ever showed any physical progress? Or a karate school where no one ever got a black belt? You’d see it as a waste of time. A lot of kids see church as a waste of time for the exact same reason. Most teenagers aren’t expecting church people to be perfect, but they do want some kind of assurance that church is going to make a difference in their lives or they figure, why bother?
• Many teens get impatient with churches that major on the minors and try too hard to seem relevant. They can spot smoke and mirrors from a mile away. Here’s a secret. Youth pastors officially have permission to not be cool. In fact, it’s a rather endearing quality. You don’t have to force the current teenage lingo, fashions and culture (especially if you’re pushing 40!) In fact, if it’s not who you are, it’s going to come across as contrived and desperate. Desperation is definitely not cool to any generation. Your messages need to be relevant, but they don’t have to be over the top. No one expects you to know about Jersey Shore, and teenagers won’t think less of you if you don’t watch it or use it in your sermon titles. (“Why Snookie Needs Jesus”, anyone?) That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use cutting-edge methods and integrate illustrations from pop culture, but style should never override substance in our ministries. Twenty years from now, your teenagers probably won’t remember who “the Situation” was, but they will remember whether or not they learned how to connect with God at your church. Major on the majors, or we’re going to lose a generation.
Those are my top five reasons. Why do you think teenagers are avoiding church in greater numbers now?