I get asked this a lot and was telling someone just today what my standard answer to that question would be. So I thought it would make a good blog post. So here it is
How does a parent get their child involved in church?
First and foremost the parent has to model the behavior that they want their child to adopt. If you want her in church consistently then you have to be in church consistently. This will show them that it is serious to the parent and that it is more than an extra activity but a part of the way of life.
Secondly, you must be find a church that is supportive of the values and goals that you want for your child to absorb and commit yourself to that church and that church alone for a substantial duration of time, in your specific case I would say the remainder of her High School career. Children of all ages need consistency and in this world it seems that everything in their life changes so fast they can’t count on anything. When the church becomes a constant they are more likely to latch to it.
Thirdly a teen is going to be drawn where their friends are. If the youth group does not have anyone in it that the teen can or will connect with then they will feel isolated and alone and not want to go.
Fourth, it is important for any parent to realize that the principle influence in a child’s life will always be the parent. In turn that means that the one who must be discipling the child in Christ is the parent as well and that the youth minister and youth group are only there to support and enhance what the parent is already doing, which is why number one is so important.
Finally there as to be some lines drawn. If the previous four statements are applied first then this is an easier task. Not to say that it is at all easy but if placed first in the list it is almost impossible. The parent is the parent and makes the decisions if the parent decides that the family is going to start attending and participating in church then that is the rule and is enforced. Many times parents will tell me they don’t want to force their kids to come to church because they are afraid it will turn them off to religion. But the fact is that we force our children to do many other things and yet never consider to apply that principle. They go to school, eat their supper, go to the doctor, go to bed, have a curfew, etc etc etc. Again when the previous four are applied this becomes easier.
It’s so important for parents to live it out. I think of one family all the time. They went to church on a semi-regular basis. But it was obvious that church was not their top priority. And they reaped what they sowed. One kid grew up to be agnostic, another an atheist. Another went to jail. Christian parenting fail.