My Teen Hates Our Youth Group

A visitor to the web site asks the following question:

“I have had a pressing problem with making a decision about my church. I love my church and felt lead to go there but they do not have a youth group for my kids. My kids 13 AND 15 HATE IT! I have been forcing them to go!

They like Sunday services but THEY WANT TO go to another church. And I know that they do need other kids their age to be with and I know teens have it so hard today! But I truly love my church and know God placed me there! Should I go find them another church?

Or would it be right to let them say go to another church just for the youth on Wednesday? And not be a part of the church? I have talked to the pastor and he says they are praying for a husband and wife team for a heart of teens to come to our church. But what do I do in the mean time? They really hate going and they don’t feel apart of it.”

Families with teens face this same problem every day. What’s the right answer? The truth is, there are many different possible answers to this tough question.

Some people would tell you to stick it out, if that’s where the Lord has called you to be, but after talking to a number of parents of teens myself, I have come to a couple of conclusions.

I have a daughter in high school and a step-daughter in middle school and I also work with our church’s high school youth group. Our church has grown a lot over the last 5 years and there are now 150+ kids in the high school youth group.

Many of the parents will tell you that they came to our church just because of the youth group. Their kids are now plugged in and serving the Lord. They bring their friends, and sometimes their friends keep coming and maybe even their families.

On the other hand, some families have left our church because for one reason or another their kids didn’t feel part of the large group and found another youth group somewhere else they got plugged into. They’re also serving the Lord.

Then there’s the families that go to one church and let their teens attend youth group at another church because their teens feel more comfortable there.

So what’s the right answer? The bottom line is your teens need to be where they feel plugged in and where they are spiritually growing and can serve the Lord. I don’t think people should change churches/youth groups just because they’re “not happy.”

But in a case where you don’t think the leadership is strong and there just aren’t the other kids to support each other, your kids are in danger of quitting church completely (even if they wait until after high school to do it).

This happened to me when I was a teen, and it took me 15 years to come back to church and a relationship with the Lord. I have seen it happen many times. Some kids never come back. Don’t let yours be one of the statistics!

The important thing is not whether or not your kids are going to your church’s youth group (or church services), but whether or not they are growing spiritually. If you pray about what is the best choice for them and let them explore some different options (weekly Bible studies, outreach ministries, etc.), the Lord will show you where they belong.

I do urge you not to put it off, though. Kids at this age need the support of mature Christian adults more than ever to get them through these tough years. Even the “good kids” will have a tough time and need that support.

Working through this will also be a good lesson for them, teaching them how to make good choices for themselves.

Written by Rachel Paxton.


4 Comments on "My Teen Hates Our Youth Group"

  1. Hello: while reading your newsletters, i read this section and i felt i’d write because i went thru the same thing with my teenagers. Basiclly our daughter . . Suffice to say my husb & I were raised Catholic but our families left the church for a variety of reasons, but they never had anything for youths when i was growing up . . maybe it’s different now, i don’t know. Our kids went to Methodist churches with us, until our daughter began hating any type of church . . .and felt left out of some of the youth groups. It got worse and worse to the point of arguments when we’d go to church . . finally in h. school she was in counseling, her counselor let us know if we keep FORCING her to attend Church, things wouldn’t improve, she just made us miserable every Sun . . soooo we let her stay home from Church , it was so much easier than fighting. She’s not a religious person and i wasn’t going to keep fighting with kids, i know how much i HATED going to ‘mass’ when i was growing up. So i couldn’t see forcing my kids to attend any type of church service if they hated it that much . . . . You can’t force kids to like what you like . Both our kids are grown adults now, and are decent loving people, i dont’ care if they go to church or not. They know right from wrong and treat people great , have great jobs and are doing well . . . that’s what matters to me. not fighting about Church.

  2. Hi Bev…I agree that at a certain point it is pretty useless trying to force teenagers to go to church, especially if the church doesn’t have anything that draws the teenager in to want to participate. I don’t agree that it is okay for them not to go to church now, because the Lord wants believers to be in fellowship with one another to accomplish His purposes. Of course you did your job and it is great you took them to church as long as you were able. It is up to them now to make their own choice. Hopefully if they have Jesus in their hearts they will decide to go back to church some day. I went through a similar period myself and after I got married and had children I realized how important it was for them to know the Lord and started taking them to church. That is when my relationship with the Lord really began.

  3. Me and my sister went through a similar problem. We’ve been going to the same church since we were babies, and we both love it and the people there. However, the church does not have enough teens to have a youth group. In fact, its just me and my sister in the teen age group, all the other kids are between the ages of four and ten. But we have always gone to a youth group. We started out at the kids group at our christian school, then we attended the youth group at my friends church. That one didnt feel right though, so I tried out a youth group my cousin went to. Me and my sister have been going to that youth group for six years now. Its like having two church families and its wonderful! It took us a while to find the right one, but when we found it, it made us a lot happier. Both of us are still very involved with our home church, she is in the choir and I am the sound technichian. We have to compromise on some things, but overall it works great and the youth group really helped me through high school, and is supporting my sister now. We’ve both developed a love for God. Also, I recommend finding a good christian summer camp. We both attended a week long camp every summer and every time was an amazing experiance! Bair Lake in Michigan is a great one!

  4. I was one of those kids. My church did have a youth group but with only a few teens. The church used us as free babysitters for the younger kids. I still resent it years later: find a good place for your kids, and if they aren’t happy, find out why. Bad things do happen at church. If a pastor or Sunday school teacher is abusive they may be afraid to tell you. Don’t treat this as trivial – your kids may grow up regarding church as something they cannot wait to get away from.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *