Sunday, July 3, 2011

Freedom… To Abstain from Church?

If you’re like us, the sermon this Sunday was on freedom.  Christian freedom, the freedom to be a Christian in this country, and the amazing men and women that fight to keep us free.

One aspect of freedom my older kids want is the freedom to abstain from going to church.  I’m talking young adults really – 18 and 20.  They both feel that church isn’t for them, and they shouldn’t be made to go.

The house rule has always been – if you’re home, you’re going to church.   I’ve allowed for the fact that not every church fits our family’s personality.  My husband and my youngest son attend a church that the hubby has been going to his whole life.  Their youth group is small and we never fit in, so my older three wanted a different venue.  We’ve tried three or four churches now – we’re still searching.  I’m OK with searching.  I’m not OK with quitting.

So…  What to do?  I’ve always believed the argument that you wouldn’t let your kids say they don’t want to go to school  - education is too important.  Isn’t spirituality even more so?  So, church shouldn’t be optional either.  However, I have to wonder.  What am I accomplishing dragging them to church?  I hope we’re modeling the fact that God is center in our lives and we can devote time to Him.  However, am I making them resent church?  Religion?

Of course, if they didn’t have to go, the trickledown theory would then work its way to my 13 and 11 year olds as well.  I don’t want them waiting for the time they get to choose and not go to church.  I realize their issues aren’t with God – it’s about a human institution.  They don’t like the ceremony, the sermon or the early hours.  But, doesn’t God call on us to commune with Christians? 

Clearly, I wish we had a strong church relationship that all the kids enjoyed, and maybe that is in our future.  But – what to do now? 

Do you have older teens that don’t want to attend church?  How do you handle it?


  1. It's a hard one. Maybe family church during an evening - where scripture is read and discussed? We live in a tiny town that doesn't have any real youth groups - and my boys feel a bit lost without friends there, they sit with me. My youngest likes to stay home on Sunday's and we don't make a huge issue of it, but the Lord, His Mercies, Healing, Grace and Provision (and salvation) are constantly on our lips.

  2. Hmm that is a tough one. I grew up in 'church' but hated to go when I was older. Now I have kids and we decided to go to a church about 3 years ago, at first I let the kids decide if they wanted to go. But now it is mandatory. My kids are 11 and 14, however, not 18 and 20. My kids still do not 'like' to go. Ours is small and there is no youth groups. My dd went to one at another church for awhile and it was not a good thing for her.
    I like your rule, "If you're home, you're going to church."
    I truly think that even though they feel that they do not like it, it will stick with them. The benefits will be there even if we don't see the results right away.
    Of course, if one chooses to turn away from it, that is their choice. God gave each of us free will. Whether we choose to usurp the authority of God (to deny his command to go to church) or not is up to each of us.

  3. Hugs. I've been there! I think a good youth group can make all the difference-but that really is in Gods hands! We all visited tons of churches when we moved here...and then gave up. For over a year, we did not go at all. I missed it! Even the kids remembered their old youth group fondly. We ventured out again, with lots of prayer-and working together to find one and did find a church they agreed was "pretty cool" I still find myself telling them we go to church to show our love for Christ, not for what we get- but I saw my husband make one of my children go this past weekend- he wanted to send his tithe, but not go! Oh, my mom heart:( So obviously, we are struggling. My oldest has been "too" busy to go for awhile and I pray so hard that will change soon. But, at 24, I'm not forcing him. I believe he will go back, we'll see. I am also listening to Alistair Beggs at truth for life, often in front of them, to remind them that while I'm far from perfect, these things do give me support and comfort. Yes, this topic is so on my heart, too. I have review book coming, don't check your brains a the door-I think about apologetics. I'm hoping it has something to help, too. Ok. I'm writing way too much. I will pray for your guys though!!

  4. April, it is nice to meet you. I am a fellow crewmate.
    This is a hard one indeed. I still have young children so I can't help much, but one thing I know for a fact is that we should go to church not for what we can get out of it but for what we bring to God. We go to church to worship and listen to him speak to us through his Word. So may be we should have our kids understand that from the get go. Except for the kind of spiritual food we get, we should not judge a church on how we "like" it or can get out of it, but on how we can be used by God and serve him and others there. Just my humble thought. May God give you wisdom and peace as you try to do the right thing.

  5. Thank you all for the kind comments. It'll be something I'll be praying about. Joelle - I appreciate your candid comment. You are right - it's about God, not us. I just hope we can bring a good attitude with us whereever we go.

  6. A year ago, my answer probably would have been different, but then I read the book Pagan Christianity. I found it INCREDIBLY eye-opening about how much of what we consider "necessary" parts of Christianity are simply traditions and not God-ordained whatsoever. And church, as we know it, including all the aspects of it that you mention your children not liking, is one of those traditions, that evolved from a time when the main form of secular entertainment was going and listening to "experts" speak on various topics, and they brought that type of "entertainment" into their worship. Anyway, I would encourage you to read the book, and then re-evaluate whether or not you feel the act of "going to church" is something that you want to require of your children.

  7. Joelle has made a good comment. I reached the point where my kids had to decide for themselves what they wanted. Several of the older boys have left the church, but hopefully the younger ones can see how that decision has effected their lives for the worse.

    I pray continually that the Lord will intervene in my children's behalf and give them experiences that will convince them of the truth and also that my children will have the courage and strength to change.

    Hugs from this Mom to You!

  8. I'd be interested in reading that book too, Sweetpea. I'll look for it at my trusty library. April, I feel with you.
    Once our two oldest headed off for college, we sent them with the caveat that they must attend church or a bible study group. One complied the entire four years, and continues to to this day. It's a matter of spiritual survival, and he needs it. The other had a harder time connecting out there, and after the first three years (which included leading bible studies), he dropped off. He's back now, and attends church with us, but he's searching.
    The third went off this past year and wobbled about attendance. He tells us he's learned his lesson, but once he's back out there again - we'll see.
    As they grow up, I find that our responsibility to support them in PRAYER deepens. I capitalize it because that's just one way to convey how intensely important this is.

    In the trenches with you.
    God's peace,

  9. April,
    I speak not as one who knows the perfect "way", but I will speak from my experience.

    My oldest is 24. When she approached older "teen-hood", she did not want to attend church. Complying with family rules, she came to church week after week, slumped down in her seat, eyes down, hat or hoodie on head, arms crossed, in complete defiance. She became an adult who has completely walked away from our faith, embracing a same-sex relationship with a girl friend, and holds extreme long-term bitterness towards me and won't even talk to me.

    Daughter #2 was rebellious at 14, but had a conversion experience. Nevertheless, she didn't want to attend our church. As she was able, much to our discomfort, she began getting rides, and later driving, to various different churches. By this time I was convinced that a young adult needs to make their own decision about the faith and cannot be forced into it. We need to trust that what we taught them in their formative years will eventually return them to the One who calls them. #2 is now 22, and is actively walking out her faith, attending church with the family -- at a different church. Imagine that! Child #1 was right all along -- there was wrong stuff going on in that first church, and the kids were seeing it and the parents were not!

    #3 is only 11, so still falls into the category of not getting to "choose" yet.

    My advise is that an adult child (age 18 and up) is old enough to die for his/her country. We've had our years to plant the seeds of the word of God in their hearts. If they are following other house rules (no drunkenness, no drugs, no immorality), church attendance should not be mandatory. They need to choose to follow Jesus; we cannot force it on them.

    My two cents.

    Thank you for visiting my blog ( and following. I'm following back now.

    Fellow TOS crewmate

  10. Diana,

    Thank you for much for your candid comments!

    I believe you are right. We can't make them love God or church. At this point, they need to choose it for themselves.

    It's hard to let go, but as they say Let Go, Let God.




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