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Top 10 Theological Questions Teens Ask: #8 | REyouthpastor.com | Home youth ministry, youth pastor
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Why do I(the student) have to attend church?

Top 10 Theological Questions Teens Ask: Do I Have To Attend Church? (#8)

Why do I(the student) have to attend church?


1. Students think they can follow Jesus without attending church.

Somewhere along the line students bought into the idea that I can be a devoted follower of Christ and skip out on church.  If our students don’t attend church now, they never will!  This is problematic at both the spiritual development and theological level.

2. Students going to church has a lot of Biblical support–kind of a major point.

One may think this is not a theological question, but a practical question.  Students do not want to go to church because it is “boring” or not “relevant”.  I disagree this question is entirely theological and should not consider how students feel towards church.  This question strictly deals with how youth ministries address ecclesiological matters.  Jesus tells Peter He will build His Church on this rock (Matthew 16.18).  Basically Jesus thinks the Church is a big deal because He directly gives Peter the Church’s construction plans. Also students really matter to Jesus.  For some reason, Jesus deeply cares about children and teenagers (Mark 10).  So it would make sense Jesus loves having students involved and participating in church.

3. Students need to value  being in “big church”.

Youth pastors need to encourage students to attend “big church”.  Big church is intimating for students.  It mainly consists of adults who do not give a rip about some punk teenager.  Big church gathers regularly for preaching/teaching and worship, observe the biblical sacraments of baptism and communion, are unified by the Spirit, are disciplined for holiness, and are empowered to be missionaries to their town and to the world for God’s glory and redemption.  Our students need to learn how to love each aspect of what the church is.  I think the problem is…. many youth pastors underplay these marks of the church because we don’t think they work.  Or we don’t think they are fun or students will not like them.  In Nehemiah 8 Ezra preaches from daybreak to noon (Nehemiah 8.3).  Nehemiah does not record any of the teenagers complaining to their parents that Ezra is boring and preached for too long.

The sooner students  assimulate into the church body the better off they will be.

4. Some students may like Church, but don’t like your church.

I think it is perfectly okay to let other students attend other churches.  It is difficult as their youth pastor to encourage them to attend a bigger and better church down the street.  More youth pastors need to be Kingdom-minded.  Trust me, if a student enjoys another church, do Jesus a favor and let him/her attend.  I think it is our job as youth pastors to get students plugged into church, which may mean suggesting other churches that are a better fit for your student.  Plus, our students will most likely not be in the same church setting they grew up in, especially when they enter their college or adulthood years.

5. Some students may need a church time out.

If a student does not desire to attend church, they may need a break.  Granted, use some discernment and don’t be giving students a hall pass every time a student complains about church.  It can be very healthy allowing students to take a break so they can re-evaluate why they attend church.  Give permission for students to skip a few weeks of church if they are angry, bitter, or frustrated with church.  We don’t want church to be a chore and painful.  Give students clear boundaries when giving them a leave.  Make sure to have a follow up plan, if they do decide to take a break.  I found that if you give students a little room of freedom, it can have great benefits to their spiritual development process. Make sure you talk to their parents before dismissing them from church.

6. Always refer to the parent.

Parents have the final answer to the question of:  Mom or dad do I have to go to church?  Some parents make church mandatory and others make it optional.  Personally I think church should be mandatory for students who are in 6th-10th grade.  When a student enters 11th grade, he/she should start making their own decisions while they have a support system already in place.  If the student decides not to attend church, he/she needs to articulate why this is the best decision.  By the way “sleeping in” does not count.

7. Praying, corporately and privately, for our teens’ church attendance.

It is a constant battle raising up our students according to God’s way.  It is tough following Jesus as a jr high and high school student.  Getting teens to church is tough.  By fearlessly praying for our teens church involvement will empower and protect our students and families as they live out the Christian life in and out of the church context.  Essentially as youth pastors we need to be praying Ephesians 6.1-4 and 6.10-13 over our students and families every Sunday.



** If you want read all 10 of the Top Ten Theological Questions Teens Ask click here

About Jeremy Zach

Orange XP3 Specialist | Youth Worker | MDIV | Hot Sauce Addict | Dr. Dre Beats Lover

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  1. I suspect the way “church” is understood (and taught) as a place and time ….Sunday morning at 11am…lasting about an hour…is part of what undermines youth attendance? Don’t you think? From my context…and I would wager it is the same for many mainline churches…the issue is not should (ought) youth attend big church… The issue starts with…what is church? What is a biblical understanding of church… From this understanding, how does our big church measure up. If youth say church is boring…well…I suspect they are giving voice to what many feel and wish they could express with the same impunity a kid enjoys. If I think about how much…actually…how little I pray and how little others pray for – “church”…it is no wonder big church is so lame? The more I think about it…the more lame I feel. Where is the diversity in big church… Where is the deep, profound, relevant, offensive, moving, and compelling preaching…music…corporate prayers? Where is the movement of God’s Spirit (should be in worship)where is the real and wonderful transcendent experience(should be in worship)..where is the encounter with the living God(ought to be in worship)…where is the authentic and noticeable love of Jesus (ought to be the faces of those in and leading worship)… I am not talking about worship being a HGP every Sunday… But when was the last time an adult turned around in the pew and, with the love of Christ unmistakably shining through his/her eyes, asked a kid how they could pray for them…The kids see what we have become progressively dull to… They will know we are Christians by our love… Where is the love…the love of God and neighbor… It ain’t in big church… The kids aren’t quitting church… indeed it’s the church leaders who quit church…the 11 am service is not church… And as I write this I feel shame…bc i am one of those leaders

  2. Hey Jeremy,

    Great post. I have been dealing with this issue a lot lately. So reading this article really gave me a few insights into dealing with this. One thing I was wondering: is point 5 biblical? 5. Some students may need a church time out. I used to use this a lot and found that it worked for me sometimes. Now, I talk to teens about attending sunday morning and if they feel they need a break from church, youth. I talk about what the church actually is a community. I try to stay away from the language that church is a sunday morning for an hour and a half program. I emphasize that the teenagers are the community, and are the church. Just a few thoughts.

  3. This is such a huge problem in teens today!! Not only do they have these questions but so many other things pulling for their attention!!

    We also noticed our kids were asking for several proofs about other things that we did as Christians.. Our blog site has started addressing this with apologetic Monday.

    check out what we have so far!! Encourage your teens to check us out too!!


  4. I refused to go to church. It wasn’t that I was bored, it’s that I was offended. For one thing I don’t like being spoon fed falsehoods and lies nor can I stomach the slavish, authoritarian dogma. You see I am an atheist. But no one ever thought to ask me my thoughts and feelings in the matter––they were too busy telling me what to think and not to question. But I WILL think for myself and I will choose to hold or to reject any faith I see fit.
    This is not a request––I claim this freedom of religion by right and will fight with every last bit of my strength the religious fascists who attempt to force feed their bronze age ignorance on the rest of us. If I dragged your but to a Mosque, would you convert to islam? I think not; you would probably cling to your Christian beliefs stronger than ever. Then consider what forcing an atheist to church will accomplish.

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