How to Help Your Teen Stay in Church After High School

It is a well-known statistic that most church-going kids drop out of church after high school.  What can Christian parents do to keep their teens engaged in church after they graduate?

First, you need to set an example of commitment to church.  You need to show them through your actions the high priority of the church.  Don't be a sporadic attender.  Don't be one of those Christians who only goes to church under perfect conditions -- the weather has to be right, everyone has to be well-rested, the yard has to be done, the house has to be cleaned, everyone has to be in perfect health, and there can't be anything else happening in the community.  By your example you are either teaching them that church attendance is a top priority, or just something to do on occasion.

Second, get your teen involved in ministry in the church.  Teach them that church is not just an event to attend, but a ministry in which to serve; a team to help; a cause to contribute to.  Teach them that church is not a place to be served, but a place to serve.  They need to know that church is not just something they need, but a family that needs them.  Teach them that all Christians are called to serve in the church, and that it is sinful to sit on the sidelines.  Help them to find a way to serve, whether it is setting up for church, or taking down after church, or helping with the worship team.  If you need help with this, ask the pastor.  I'm sure he can put them to work.  

Third, help them to build friendships in the church.  Studies show that the more friends and relationships a person has in the church, the less likely they are to drop out.  Your child needs to develop friendships in the church -- deep friendships.  They need to see the church as a part of their extended family.  This is why it is important to get your kids involved in a small group ministry.  Relationships are hard to develop if you only attend worship on Sundays.  You've got to plug in deeper.  

And it's especially important that they develop deep friendships with adults, not just kids their age.  Many of their peers will drop out of church, and others will leave town after high school.  If their only friends are with their peers, their connection to church will be weak.  But if they develop deep relationships with mature Christian adults in the church who have been a part of the church for years, and will continue to be a part of the church for years, then church will still feel like home after high school.  This is one of the strengths of a family-integrated church, where all the generations are mixed together.  In our Wednesday Home Group we have grandparents, parents with adult children, new parents, teens, middle schoolers, elementary students, and preschool children -- all mixed together!

Parents, remember that your commitment to and involvement in church is not just about you.  You are setting an example for your kids.  You are instilling values in them.  You are helping them develop life-long habits.  Keep that in mind when you're deciding whether or not to go to church Sunday morning, and how much you should get involved in church.

Whether or not your kids stay in church after high school is not all on you, parents.  Ultimately they have to make their own choices.  But a large part does depend on you -- on your example and how you raise them.

"Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

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