February 25, 2009

Should I force my teenager to go to church?

Filed under: parenting,Parents,Youth Ministry — Neil @ 2:13 pm

I’m faced w/ that question on a regular basis or something similar like “Is it ok to ground my teen from church?”.

D.C. Curry, youth pastor at Granger, answered the question on his pastor’s blog.  Here’s what he said:

My blunt answer is yes!

The Bible teaches us that one of the responsibilities of a parent is to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

One thing I love about this passage is that it projects that there is a way in which a child should go…because there is.  There are so many important things that parents will make their children do without even thinking about it like take baths, go to bed, brush their teeth, go to school, but when it comes to church they resort to the great debate.  “Should I or should I not?”

It seems to me that the same reason that governs why they have to brush their teeth, go to school, get some sleep, take baths, should be the same reason that governs why they should go to church, it’s important!  So we make/force our kids to do everything that we think is important so if we don’t make/force them to go to church does that mean we don’t think it’s important?

As a parent, it may not always be popular to make them go to church but it has eternal implications.  It’s not just about their attendance, it’s about their eternity.  We who are charged with the care of students (parents, youth pastors, teachers, godparents, etc.) must see to it that they find The Way and are trained to live in that Way.
Also know that training is not always easy, comfortable, or fun, and usually doesn’t come without a bit of pain.

A very respected parent recently told me, “I don’t care what they want to do, I (as the parent) am committed to getting my kids in environments where they can grow closer to Christ.”   He believes it’s important, so he follows that up with his actions.

Do you agree?



  1. I think it is cool when you teen chooses to go to church instead of sleeping in on Sundays!

    Comment by Cindy — February 26, 2009 @ 12:04 pm

  2. I agree Cindy. I don’t think church attendance should be optional for teens, but there is a HUGE difference in teens wanting to be there & being forced to be there.
    Teens choosing to worship, study the Bible is usually a sign that they are growing spiritually (or that they have crush on a guy/girl at church).

    Comment by Neil — February 26, 2009 @ 12:39 pm

  3. I pray that anyone reading this doesn’t allow church attendance to be an option with their teenager. I made the mistake of allowing my teenage son to decide whether or not he wanted to attend church. I thought he’d grow up and make the wise decision to start going back to church. I was wrong. I now have a 23 year old son who is an atheist. I still pray he will return to church one day.

    Comment by Theresa — April 7, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

  4. I am getting ready to “make” my son go to a Wednesday night youth program. I appreciate the comment someone made that if a teenager wants to be in church and in God’s word, it is a sign they are growing. I want my son to grow, so I will put him where he can grow! Thanks!

    Comment by Hope — September 9, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

  5. If you don’t make a child brush his teeth, his teeth will rot. If you don’t make a child go to school, he will be ignorant and suffer through life without a good job. We are here to guide our children to the path that we think is best, until which time they are capable of making good decisions on their own.

    Comment by internships — October 28, 2009 @ 10:52 am

  6. Really? You’re asking that? I’m glad I saw through church.

    Comment by AithiestTeen — November 3, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

  7. I really despise the fact that people make teens who don’t attend church look like stupid rebels.

    I realized I was agnostic when I was 12 years old. I tried to pretend like I still believed with all my heart, even if it hurt. Eventually, it bothered me so much, I told my parents. They never took it well. They force me to go to church, and every day I hate it more and more and more. There are some people that are just don’t belong there. Taking them will only alienate them, hurt them, and depress them.

    Hearing about how my inability to believe makes me unworthy, on top of hearing how things I believe in make me a bad person..

    How would someone feel being told that over and over?

    Even if it’s not true, some parents and churches make their own children feel like that is true.

    Comment by Glass — November 22, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

  8. Hey Im new to this website or blog or whatever so bear with me. What glass says is true. People make teens who dont go to church look like rebels and it PISSES ME OFF!!! I went to a church called Our Lady Mount Carmel, where religion was literally forced down our throats and believe me, when Sunday morning rolled around, I was not in the mood for any preaching whatsoever. My parents were not extreme catholics (thank God) but they still forced me to go, well my mom did. Then I was forced to make confirmation and believe me I wasn’t happy. I started to dress in all black and wear clothes with devil signs and other things. I even kicked a kid in the face because I hated it so much. Do you want this to happen to your son or daughter? I know I wouldn’t. Forcing them will only make them reject worship more, even worse, it will make them reject YOU more.

    Comment by Michael C. — January 3, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  9. Let the kid decide. If you force it on them they’ll resent you for it. Get them to go once. If they don’t like it, then let it go. They’ll come around if or when they want to.

    Comment by Sarah C. — February 5, 2010 @ 7:20 pm

  10. My teenage son decided he doesn’t want to go to church any more, the church I’ve been going to told me to let him do what he wants, is this biblical? I don’t get it.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 24, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  11. Anonymous, for a biblical perspective on raising your teenager I’d point you to Deuteronomy 6:4-9

    4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.


    Comment by Neil — February 26, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

  12. How do I “make” my teenager go to church? He is bigger than me, stronger than me, rebelling against the church. How can I “make” him do anything?

    Comment by Deb — October 14, 2010 @ 9:55 am

  13. Well Deb, The thing is you cant make him. He doesn’t want to go for whatever reason. Now he’s bigger and stronger than you, a very intimidating factor. He’s rebelling against the church. Alot of teenagers do that because a.) they’ve gone to a catholic school most of their life and are tired with the worship. b.) they don’t like the fact that their parents force them to do something they don’t want to do. and c.) they do it to get reaction from people. If your son doesn’t want to go then don’t make him.

    Comment by michael c. — October 14, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

  14. Forcing a teenager who is old enough to reason for him or herself to go to church is absolutely abhorrent.

    My parents are adamant about “raising me catholic” despite knowing I’m an atheist. They say I have to go to church out of respect for them, even though in this they completely disrespect myself in this.

    It really frustrates me that some of you guys can be so short-sighted so as not to see the immense frustration and pain being forced to a philosophy one doesn’t accept causes. All this is, is oppression of a valid opinion; assimilation of free thought.

    this is nothing like being taught good habits, because people seldom have philosophical objections to basic hygiene. Comparing Christianity to eating a balanced diet assumes naively that Christianity is inherently good and true and that everyone needs to believe it or else they’re hopeless, evil deviants. Everyone wants to think that their religion is right, but we shouldn’t force our opinions on each other.

    I’m only 15, but i am 100% sure that I will never go back to Christianity. This may sound like I’m an arrogant child who thinks he has everything figured out, but that’s just a fact for me. Why? I’m gay. (and homosexuality isn’t a choice by the way)

    Don’t try to tell me that homosexuality is no reason to be non-christian, because it is. Trying to make myself believe would just be self-destructive, in that I would probably have to try and make myself straight, which is entirely impossible.

    If you want your child to stay christian that badly, the best thing you can do is let him/her do what he/she wants. he/she will feel respected and free, and he/she is less likely to resent Christianity more than he/she already may.

    Comment by edgar — November 21, 2010 @ 1:17 am

  15. They want you to go despite the fact that they know you’re an atheist? that right there is a big reason why so many people, ESPECIALLY young people are so against the catholic religion. thats really all that I have to say on this.

    Comment by michael c. — November 21, 2010 @ 8:50 am

  16. I think forcing beliefs on anyone is a bad idea. A belief is personal and can be shared but not forced. Trying to force someone to believe as you do is wrong – the Catholic church did it in the middle ages and individuals are doing it to a smaller extent now. It all stems down to a basic lack of toleration, and this lack of toleration is easy to see in the past and difficult to find in the present. For example, it’s easy to see the lack of racial toleration in the early 1900s. It’s difficult to see the lack of religious toleration you’re imposing on your son now because you really do mean well.
    Religion is a choice. Even though your son is 15, he deserves to have a choice.

    Comment by Jeff — February 5, 2011 @ 10:44 pm

  17. My mother made me go to church as a teen. I hated it every Sunday. When I became an adult, I stayed away from the church for many years because of that. I now have a teenager who doesn’t want to go to church. I will not make her. Forcing them to do something makes them turn away from it even more.

    Comment by chris — February 8, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  18. My mother tried to make me go. Now bear in mind that my parents are not extremely religious. My dad isn’t religious at all, but my mother feels that she has things to be thankful for. Forging ahead, she tried to make me go and I hated it. Eventually she saw that I hated church and said that I didnt have to go.

    Comment by michael c. — February 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  19. If you force your kids (at any age) to go to church, they will learn to hate it. I’m a missionary kid, and although I don’t especially hate church NOW I still have an inbred disdain toward it. I definitely despised the entire idea of going to church for most of my life. Even now, if I wasn’t required to go by the Bible School I’m attending, I probably wouldn’t go. If I hadn’t been forced to go for my entire childhood, teenhood and young adulthood, I feel like I wouldn’t mind it so much and might even enjoy it.
    So I’m telling you now, DON’T force your kids to go. Church isn’t going to lead them down the right path, Jesus Christ will and he is omnipresent after all, he’ll find them one way or another. Jesus isn’t confined by the walls of a church building.

    Comment by charissa — March 10, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

  20. im an 18 year old and my mom makes me go to church and well it sucks if anything its made me hate going its a waste of time but if she wouldnt have made me go i wouldnt have gotten mad done some reserch and opened my eyes to see that god is just an emotion something people use to make them selfs feel better there is no god thanks mom ❤

    Comment by cody — March 29, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  21. Hmm, I’m a 13 year old with some excellent grammar. That’s a first!
    Anyhow, I’d like to explain to you what my child hood is currently like.
    I’m an Atheist, and just over the recent years, I’ve come to question on how ‘real’ Christianity is (Catholic Parent, Dad is Muslim). That’s how I become one, but now moving onto the solid point.
    Every Sunday, as usual, my mom tries to force me to go to church. I know that she can’t physically force me to, though she can take away privileges. Ipod, Computer, TV, Etc, The more this happens, the more I tend to detest the idea of going. Brushing your teeth! Fine! Doing Chores! I’m good. Going to church! WHAT?!
    Pretend you’re a Christian, would you go to a Muslim service for 3 hours? Heck no! So why should I, a child, who has a lack of belief in God, want to go in something that I doesn’t believe in, for three hours?

    P.S. The ‘i’ll pray for u’ statement is getting on my nerves as well. Please don’t do it to me.

    Comment by Daniel — April 29, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  22. No. I read most of these comments and honestly, you people that make your teenagers go to church are not giving your child a voice. He/she has a right to believe what ever they want to believe. Exposing a child to Christ is a good thing, it teaches them good values but as for making them go. It’s curl, unethical and it makes them feel as tho they are being dictated. My parents make me go to church every Sunday morning. And I hate them for it, it has put a hole in me and my fathers relationship and makes me and my mother argue so much more. And if I had the choice, yeah I wouldn’t go, and most of you would be disappointed, but isn’t that what having a choice is about? I’m sorry but any parent who makes there kid go to church is a cruel unfair parent and should think about there child more then how they want everyone in church to have a good opinion of there family because there teenage kid goes to church

    Comment by David Leary — May 7, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  23. i can see from the comments that the whole purpose of going to mass has been not fully explained.or perhaps the world (satan)is cunningly targeting the young.the lord is coming back and we will look at one another and think heck all that stuff at church was real. do not be deceived by satan ,hes not out to make you happy and if you stop practising anything you will become out of practise.i wish someone had told me about Jesus from the day i was born ,im sure i would have avoided hurting my soul sooo much and my angel. remember God hears and sees all.

    Comment by kay — May 13, 2011 @ 11:14 pm

  24. My children both claim that they hate church, and make a huge issue of it when their stepfather and I insist that they go. We insist because we have noticed that despite their protests they always have a good time (we can’t get them to leave after it’s over and we’re socializing) and they get along better during the week when they go. They are 12 and 14, have suffered through a terrible divorce, and used to fight constantly and viciously. As their mother I need to see that they get what nourishes them, whether it’s green vegetables or fellowship!

    Comment by Elizabeth Danu — May 16, 2011 @ 12:35 am

  25. i handcuff my kids and then put them in a large box with a sack lunch and take them to church..i leave the box in the car in the sweltering heat until after the service ,then we go home and i let them out of their box…i really need a babysitter ya know?

    Comment by Dennis Teel — September 25, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

  26. it isn’t making the children go to church that i’m against so much as telling the child he/she can’t listen to the same kind of music as the other kids and can’t watch the same shows they do and play the same games,etc…LEGALISM….some parents don’t live a church life so much as they do a “cult life”.i have a cousin that has kids that are in their late teens.they’re not allowed to watch anything on tv but kids shows..cartoons,the disney channel,etc..movies?? forget it!!
    if there’s so much as the word damn in a movie he forbids them from watching it or the channel gets changed./he forces them to listen to his music(gospel quartets) and forbids them to listen to secular radio and music in general/.long story short what they watch and listen to mostly is what he(a legalsitic 40 year old man)watches and listens to.this denies them their childhood i–that’s all it accomplishes!!!
    legalism robs people of joy and creates pompous ,judgemental,self righteous fools!and i find that most church people i meet are exactly like my cousin/

    Comment by Walter Eagan — September 25, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

  27. Folks:

    God gave us free will. Either we can accept Him or reject Him. The choice is yours. However, please know that because God loved us so much he gave us free will and he will also let us experience the consequences of our decisions. Choose wisely. I’m not placing anything on anyone in this blog. But the choice is ours alone. I hope and pray that each person makes the right choice.

    God Bless

    Comment by Clay — October 24, 2011 @ 10:58 am

  28. you are all stupid no one should be forced to learn about god/jesus unless you have givien the same teaching in buddism or hinduism or any other Religion they should make up there own choices. when its sunday i sleep in long just to stop my mum from nagging me she says when your 18 and you have all the infomation you can stop going its stupid does she expet me to know the whole bible.

    12year old boy

    Comment by jack — October 30, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  29. Hey Jack, for a 12 year old, you sound pretty intelligent. The sleeping in thing is a good tactic. Still, you should talk to your mother. Tell her that you understand that you are respecting her by going BUT at the same time, you are disrespecting yourself. Hopefully, she’ll understand

    Comment by michael c. — November 1, 2011 @ 4:30 pm

  30. If I dragged your ass to a Mosque–would you become a Muslim? You cannot force belief. All you are doing is crushing their religious freedom. Your attempts at forced indoctrination only stirs up resentment achieving the opposite of what you want. But then I don’t expect people who believe in primitive, bronze age bullshit to have much insight into human psychology.

    Comment by Joe Bigliogo — March 27, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

  31. No one should be forced into chruch no more than they should be forced to be in the military, athiests, etc. I had to go even as a young adult and it turned me off from organized religion. Nine times out of ten when I said “I dont want to go’ I would be coerced into going. I went even after I was married just to please them and realized it was the wrong reason. I find the more you force someone to do something the more they rebel. As pre-teens you don’t have much of a say so but I think older teens and young adults should not be forced. To the ones below 15 just go to church for now because you are a minor.Yo still could tell what you think. Wait until you are nearer 18 to say anything.You are legal at 18 and should make your own choices the way your parents.

    Comment by A.Roddy — September 25, 2012 @ 11:27 pm

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