Dad, I hate our church. I think it is boring and I don't want to go there again."
Even though I had heard similar words from my older daughter a few years before, I was absolutely not ready to hear the negativity and passion of this statement from our second daughter, Rebecca, age 16. My first reaction was to get angry with her. Then I felt myself moving into preaching mode.
But before I said something I knew I'd regret, I took a good look at my daughter. Something was causing this most-of-the-time wonderful kid who sings in the worship band and helps lead a Fellowship of Christian Athletes huddle to react so strongly.
After taking a few deep breaths, I simply said, "It sounds like something might have happened to make you hate something you liked so much just a few weeks ago." She blurted out, "Josh and Justin are spreading rumors about me. Plus, I'm bored with the worship." After separating the statements, I realized Rebecca wasn't so much rejecting the idea of church, but rather looking for new ways to deepen her developing faith.
As teens grow more independent, it's natural for them to want to find expressions of faith that they can call their own. At the same time, I believe it's vitally important for families to worship together.
This is an area where I encourage parents to make their own desires clear. We've told our daughters that church is not an option. We eat, sleep, go to school, work, and attend church. Sure, we've missed a Sunday or two because of gymnastics championships, soccer tournaments, and other events, but our commitment to participate in the life of the church is a non-negotiable.1