There are a ton of books out there that deal with the mass exodus when it comes to teens leaving the church. I come to you not as an expert, but as an observer; one who has been a youth pastor of both successful and unsuccessful youth ministries. I come to you as a Senior Pastor of a great church and as an active Children's Pastor of that same church. I come to you as a father of two children both under the age of 13.
The following are simply things I've learned from experience and what I see that if not checked could, down the road, lead to some unresolved answers.
The following are suggestions to do or to continue to do to make sure your child becomes a teenager who is disinterested in church and apathetic towards their faith in God.
Hopefully you'll do the opposite.
1.) Treat church attendance like a country club function. You know, go when there's a special event or when it seems like the right thing to do. There is no substitute for a real, growing relationship with God through spending time in daily prayer and reading of His Word, then add going to church to worship and strengthen other believers. This helps strengthen your growing relationship with God. Whenever the emphasis is to just attend church, then a casual Christianity mindset takes hold and is much harder to shake off the older one gets.
2.) Expose your child to high levels of technology. I'm all for technology. I'm young (under 40), so of course I appreciate it. I find myself telling my kids stories like, "when I was your age we had a box we'd wear on our hip that would beep at us to then go find a phone and call that person who needed us--you and your iPhones...mumble...mumble." The church I pastor as well as many other wonderful, healthy churches use technology in every aspect of their ministry. Understand I'm not comparing "overhead projectors" to "Nintendo" here.
As much as churches try to stay current and provide environments for your child, churches CAN NOT compete with your 7 year old who walks in with their own personal device playing Minecraft or updating their Facebook status before heading to their Bible class. Please note, I am not ranting about the "what" they are doing on there, I'm ranting about at what age they are being exposed. There are literally dozens of articles out there telling about the dangers of early exposure to technology. Here's a link to a simple article that just address the attention issue. *How Technology is Changing the Way Kids Focus and Think*
3.) Buy into the hero myth. There is an alarming mindset growing among parents that believe this, "If it's a movie about heroes then it's totally fine for my 7, 9, 11 year old." Remember when PG-13 meant....... ok, sure, you and I are the parents. We ultimately decide what we allow our kids to watch, not some committee of biblical illiterate, unprincipled, godless group who sets the standard for our home. Well?????
If I was to sit with you and outline how many times a particular movie takes God's name in vain, how many times they said s*** or dropped the bomb, told you how many sexual innuendos were made, I believe you'd say something like, "yeah, I think we won't take them to see that just yet." Sadly the problem is many are not researching beyond the preview.
Hey, I'll be here along with others who will teach teenagers to respect women, to encourage them to wait to have sex until marriage, to teach and help them follow God's ways of doing life. Just know it's hard to get the truth across when they've been feed, over many years, a steady steam of ideology like TMNT: Michelangelo makes note of April O'Neals sex appeal, saying, "She's so hot I can feel my shell tightening."
Why would anyone believe God's way is best when they've had their way for so long and they've been told their way is just fine?
If you want to get a head start by researching movies ahead of time before spending good money on something check out, pluggedin.com
I wholeheartedly believe God's Word to be true. Proverbs 22:6 " Direct your children onto the right path and when they are older, they will not leave it." It's a wonderful promise that requires a TON of HARD work.
It's hard to say no when others say yes. It's hard (for some) not to spend hundreds of dollars on the latest tech, it's hard to have daily devotion time with your family.
It's hard ...if you're not focused on the bigger picture.