5 Reasons Teen Drop Out of Church

We have a special guest at Transitional Woman today, Kate Megill from Teaching What Is Good. Kate recently wrote a powerful post on her blog describing why teens are leaving the church and has allowed me to reprint it for you.

church worship
Are you a parent struggling with your teen not wanting to go to church? Do you see your children rejecting church, and perhaps even God, as they go off to college or jobs? Why does this happen? We try to raise them to love the Lord. But our hearts are filled with guilt and shame as we try to hide the deepest fear of our hearts: our children seem to be completely rejecting God.
Why does this happen? There are many reasons but I’d like to hit on 5.
Reason #1 – They are not really saved.
“But,” you say, “my children prayed the prayer! They walked down the aisle. They’ve GOT to be saved!” If only that were true. The reality is that praying the prayer and walking the aisle have nothing to do with salvation. Salvation is based on repentance and trust:
  • repentance (the word means to change your mind) is when we have changed our mind about our lives and what is right and what is wrong
  • trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and surrendering to that sacrifice on our behalf
Continuing to live our lives for our own pleasure does not make someone unsaved, but it is a sign of what is in their hearts. A life surrendered to the will of God (NOT to be confused with a set of Dos and Don’ts) is part of the fruit God works in our lives when we trust in Jesus.
“So then, you will know them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” Matt 7:20-21
Reason #2 – They were discouraged from expressing their doubts.
In many churches in our country (and in many families) there is a taboo when it comes to asking questions – particularly questions that speak to doubts about God’s Word. Let’s be real: SCRIPTURE IS OFTEN CONFUSING!!! There are so many things in the bible that I don’t understand. And, if I’m being honest, there are a number of things that I don’t really like. Why should my child be different?
Has your child asked questions that were ‘poo-pooed’? Either by you or your pastor? Have their heart-felt doubts been treated with shame? Has their faith been questioned simply because they weren’t always convinced?
What we don’t realize is that just because WE can’t answer their questions doesn’t mean GOD can’t! Or even more, that He doesn’t actually delight in their questions. God is big enough for every question we have. When we encourage our children (and teach them how) to take their real questions to the Lord and to His Word, they begin to see that God really cares about their fears or doubts. We need to do all we can to bring our children to the foot of the cross and let His Spirit speak to the deepest needs of their hearts with hope and faith.
youth at church
Reason #3 -  They are in unrepentant sin.
When we continue to harbor unrepentance in our hearts, it begins to have a long term affect on us. Look at Cain! He was confronted by God, both before and after Abel’s murder. God gave him a chance to confess his sin and repent – to change his mind. But he did not. He walked right into that sin and killed his brother. Even afterward, there was no repentance that we see in scripture – just Cain justifying his actions with a hardened heart. Then he walked away from God.
Is there unrepentant sin in your teens life? Again, this comes down to the conviction of the Spirit in their lives, but something that you can be praying (and fasting) about!
BUT let me say this; there is a difference between struggles with sin and unrepentant sin. Someone who struggles knows it’s wrong, agrees that it’s wrong but has a hard time learning how to walk in victory. Someone in unrepentant sin knows it’s wrong and just doesn’t care. They are surrendered to their own desires and (sometimes almost gleefully) jump into the sin without any regret.
Reason #4 – They have never been taught what the victorious life means.
It is so disheartening to live with a desire to follow God only to continue to fail. When our children are not taught how to see God’s work in our lives, His hope through the Word and His power by the Spirit, this disheartening turns to discouragement and then to despair and finally to rejection.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Prov 13:12
Are your teens living heartsick in their struggles with sin? Are you working to give them tools to gain victory? I don’t mean, “Don’t do that. It’s sin.” That might be fine if they are 2, but not when they are 14. They need practical help, they need encouragement from the Word, they need us to come alongside them and bring courage to their hearts.  Are you helping them see that God’s sanctifying work in their lives actually DOES change them?
When we don’t teach them to see the work of the Spirit in their lives, guilt begins to reign supreme in their hearts and minds. This is a tool of the enemy that will devour their hearts, pushing them do whatever they have to do to stop the guilt. And this might very well mean they leave the church as soon as they are able.
Reason #5 – We are living a lie as their parents.
Nothing turns our children away from the church (and maybe even from God) faster than hypocrisy. Do we live one life at church and another at  home? Do we put on our Christian Mask of being all holy and use spiritual language when we are around believers and then become Mr. Hyde when we are with our children? Are WE teaching them to live a lie by our example?
If this is where we are living, then it is no wonder that our children would RUN from what we claim is a good thing. They’ve not seen God’s goodness lived out in our lives and they reject the words we say because they reject the life we live.
This needs a powerful change in OUR hearts. Repentance, confession and surrender.
  • We need to repent of our hypocrisy to the Lord.
  • We need to confess our sin to our children and ask for their forgiveness.
  • We need to surrender our lives fully to the Lord and lean on His Spirit to guide our lives.
None of this means that we can change our children’s lives. God is still sovereign and still gives them choice. They still have to live their lives before the Lord. BUT we can do everything in OUR power to make sure we are not the stumbling block our children’s lives and relationship with God.

Kate Megill is a homeschooling mom with a passion for older women teaching younger women and has been discipling/mentoring women for over 3 decades. She blogs at Teaching What Is Good and can be found on Twitter at @teachwhatisgood and Facebook at /teachingwhatisgood.

No comments:

Post a Comment