8 Reasons Why Kids Don’t Want to Go to Church

Why Kids Don't Want to Go to ChurchThe number one topic that brings people to my blog via Google search is whether or not to force kids to go to church (Google has put my page, “Should You Force Your Kids To Go To Church?” at the top of search results on the matter). Given how many parents search on the topic, it is obviously a common problem and question.

I have not yet had the experience of dealing with this as a parent since my kids are so young, but I happen to have a wealth of first-hand experience with the issue:  I was a kid who NEVER wanted to go to church.

Reflecting on years of reasons for desperately wanting out of church, I would not have been able or willing to articulate those reasons to my parents. I can now, however, encapsulate the spectrum of my personal experience in the following eight reasons.

For those struggling with the issue, I hope this list encourages you to dig more deeply into your kids’ excuses of “I just don’t want to go” to identify and address the real underlying reasons.


1.       They think it’s boring.


I put this here not because it is a real reason, but because I bet this is the most common thing that all kids say about church. I probably told my mom this 1,000 times, but what I really meant if I could have expressed it was one of the other real reasons on this list. Don’t accept this as a reason unless the youth program at your church really is poorly conceived (in this case, consider other churches where the youth program is more solid).


2.       They would rather (fill in the blank).


Addressing this one really depends on what you fill in the blank with. It is either a heart issue (they have no desire to prioritize God in their lives), or a schedule issue. By heart issue, I mean that they would literally rather do anything than go to church because they don’t have a strong relationship with Jesus (see number 8).

For kids who have their hearts in the right place with Jesus, but would rather do other things, there is likely a schedule issue. If they would rather sleep, have you overscheduled them to the point that they desperately need rejuvenation? If they would rather see friends, have you allowed for enough social time during the week? The list could go on, but the key point is that everyone needs time to breathe. If your list of required activities during the week leaves your kids feeling like the only optional activity they can clear to make time for themselves is on Sunday morning, their schedule may need to be revisited. This doesn’t mean they will be willing to cut activities themselves, but it does mean you may have to work with them on it.


3.       They don’t have friends there.


I don’t have to tell you how important social relationships are to kids. If they feel like they have no one with whom to connect at church, the feeling of alienation will outweigh the ability to learn or worship. This is something that younger kids probably won’t be able to express and older kids won’t be willing to express. I was a shy kid who had trouble making friends, and dreaded church from 4th to 6th grade because I felt alienated. You can treat this situation proactively just like you would at school – make friends with other parents, talk to the teacher, invite kids over to your house, etc.


4.       They don’t like other kids there.


It’s one thing to have few or no friends at church. It’s another thing to outright not like other kids. Just like at school, church groups can have bullies, snobs, mean kids and more. Depending on the situation and the potential to rectify it, it may be best to look for another church. Yes, in the “real world” we can’t always run from the people who bother us, but church should be the one place our kids can feel safe. I would rather teach my kids lessons about how to deal with difficult people pretty much anywhere but at church (if possible).


5.       They don’t like their youth leader/teacher.


My husband, after misbehaving during middle school youth group, was told by one of his teachers that he was “going to go to hell.” You can imagine how he felt about her after that.  I went to a youth group conference in high school and, when I didn’t get emotional about the message like other kids, was told by my youth group leader that there was “something wrong” with me. I never wanted to go near that youth group leader again.

The other possibility is that the leader has no credibility with your kids – too young, a hypocritical lifestyle, inexperienced, etc.  If kids don’t respect their youth leader, they won’t value their church experience enough to go. This is especially true for middle and high schoolers.

If there is a legitimate and significant reason why your kids don’t like their leader or teacher, I believe it is absolutely appropriate to find another church.


6.       It’s not relevant.


While it would be great if every church had a fabulous curriculum to really make the Word relevant to kids, in reality, this is the job of parents. Church does not replace the application of faith at home in daily life. If you don’t pray with your kids, study the Bible with your kids, or talk about faith with your kids at home, relevance is mostly left at the door of the chapel.

One major relevance issue stands out here, from my experience: if your child’s notion of Jesus and faith has been boiled down to heaven/hell or saved/not saved, church quickly becomes irrelevant.  This was hugely true for me. All the churches I went to focused so much on salvation that there was no emphasis on a living faith. As far as I was concerned, I believed in Jesus and was saved, and then couldn’t see why I really needed to go talk about it more each week. If you’re not applying faith at home, your kids may come to see church as a redundant message about a decision that they feel they have already made (to be saved or baptized).


7.       They don’t believe in God or are doubting Christianity.


I read a fascinating study recently showing that most adults who have turned away from the church started doubting God in middle school (I’m going to write a separate blog soon on these findings). The more doubt your kids start to have, the less interested they will be in going to church and hearing about topics that aren’t directly related to their specific questions at the time. Having an ongoing faith conversation at home is critical so you can relevantly address these questions.

(Need help learning about and understanding the biggest challenges to kids’ faith today? Check out my new book, Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith.)


8.       They don’t have a strong relationship with Jesus.


Practically speaking, this reason trumps all the other reasons. If a child is old enough to have a strong relationship with Jesus, that will likely outweigh all of these other things. If the relationship is weak or not there, then all the other reasons come into play. This is where we, as parents, have to really shepherd the hearts of our kids, by understanding where they are, why they are there, and what is needed to help lead them to where we want them to be with the Lord.

OK, your turn! Parents with older kids, what other reasons have you dealt with/are you dealing with? What approaches do you recommend or do you NOT recommend taking?

37 thoughts on “8 Reasons Why Kids Don’t Want to Go to Church”

  1. When you don’t have the option of attending a church with a vibrant kids ministry, what do you do? For example if you are a small church pastor or live in a rural area. You could do a couple of things – 1-volunteer to participate in it & do your best to help (if you have the time/energy to put into it), 2 – Have your kids involved in what you are doing: if you are a small church pastor – involved the kids to say a verse or if they are shy, have them take up offering. If they love to sing – have them help you with worship. If you are someone who lives in a rural area and only has 1 or 2 churches to choose from – get involved & include your kids in the process. Get them involved in the Christian community. Find the strengths of your children and involve them in some way, even if it seems minor. It has been hard for us because we desperately want to have our kids involved in a dynamic kids ministry, but that has not been the path God has let us be on yet. I really love this post because as parents we often just assume our kids will understand the importance of church if we drag them there. (if we do this – we are only repeating what we learned as kids). God wants to have a dynamic relationship with our children too. At 18 months, my daughter was worshipping with the rest of us in a loud voice. I used that to have her help me lead worship when she was a little bit older :). Now she loves to go to church – no matter if we are at a church with a big kids ministry or with nothing at all. I still struggle inside with how to cultivate that in her life, but I appreciate reminders that if we are intentional in our parenting, they will respond.

    1. Hi Debbie, This is such a great comment, thank you. I have always lived in urban or medium sized areas so I haven’t experienced the issue of what to do when there are NO (or few) alternative churches. I love your suggestions. These are all great ideas. And whether you go to a church with a good kids program or not, it is always worthwhile to get involved yourself – that’s an excellent point. I hope to do that soon. 🙂

  2. “One major relevance issue stands out here, from my experience: if your child’s notion of Jesus and faith has been boiled down to heaven/hell or saved/not saved, church quickly becomes irrelevant.”

    Having attended Catholic high school as a Protestant, I find this statement captures the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism–the first is focused on the afterlife, the latter is focused on this life. Once again, a well-done letter, one that provides reason to look forward each day to your next post.

    1. That’s a very interesting point – it definitely resonates with my perception, though I haven’t ever attended Catholic church or school. I think that’s the difference in approach when there is a salvation by grace vs salvation by works theology!

      And thank you for the kind words about the post!

      1. I am a Catholic, and life long. The comment from one poster-Catholics focus on the afterlife, is not actually 100% true. The more accurate statement would be that we focus our behavior, or at least try to, so that we can spend eternity with our loving God. Catholics focus VERY VERY much on this side of eternity.

    2. We got taken every week, sometimes I’d enjoy, sometimes not.
      as I became an adult the preacher was shouting, I’d leave a nervous wreck, I simply dont want to have that experience again, also we’d have the same hymn every week,. I only go if I really want to as an adult and that isn’t often.
      if I want to do good I’ve lots of places to do that, unfortunatly the church lost a potential disciple.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. My kids doesn’t really not want to go to church, but we all have a bit of a strugle, and most of these reasons come into play. Another – loud music. While we love good P&W music, often it is overbearingly loud, and for that reason left a church 🙁
    The search continues.

    1. Good point – church style is definitely something that comes into play. If the style overbears the message in either a good or bad way, the whole aspect of worship and learning gets tossed out. I don’t mind the loud music personally (I go to a loud megachurch!) but I completely understand how it would turn other people off.

  4. This is a great post. I think number 6 is so true. If we go to church as part of a weekly check list, we can be guaranteed that our kids won’t see it as relevant. I often think about it in terms of watering a garden – we need to saturate the soil of their souls every day, not just Sunday. This isn’t done with the garden hose set on “jet,” but rather a steady, daily shower of God’s word, love and relevance to every aspect of their lives. We need to do everything we can to make sure that we are cultivating their personal relationship with God by asking questions, avoiding legalism and having open and probing discussions about hard issues. Faith is not a love triangle; kids aren’t saved through parents but through Jesus. Jesus alone. Thank you so much for this post.

  5. reason number 9…..Their parents don’t go on a regular basis…..at least this is what the Moore household is going through….Since, the bad experience we had with our last church it has been hard to get involved with a church family. I am really getting convicted of this. The kids still see that Nathan and I love the Lord but they also see that we have not been involved in church and it is causing them to not have the fire that they used to have. It used to be they begged to go when ever the church doors where open and if we missed a Wednesday night or Sunday they would let us know how much they missed it and how we should have been there. Now, they just mention it in passing. As a parent of teen and preteen youth it is our job to take to heart Proverbs 22:6….Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

  6. I think the biggest reason children do not go to church is they learn from example, if mom ,dad or both think church is optional they will too and to a child’s mind it really would be fun to stay home on a Sunday morning, watch cartoons and just be lazy.For an adult to encourage this lax spirtualily is really a crime against God, especially in light of the fact the poor kids hardly hear about God except as a curse word in public schools. It’s not that you have to go to church to be a Christian, you GET to go, it’s a priveledge . You may notice on a casual surf of the web on this topic thet there are actually militant atheists movements trying to prevent kids from going to church or any kind of strong environment that might encourage them to revere God and show Jesus to people, I can see the day coming clearly when going to church will not only be a very unpopular option but a crime against a totalitarian regime. The church is mentioned 127 times in the new testament and always in conjunction with other people and the sharing of the word of God with power and authority.If we love Jesus we will love each other and we can not love each other if we deliberately stay away from each other.Jesus said,”Sufer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not.” We need to all we can to inspire, by word and deed a love for Gods people -the body of Christ(Acts, Ephesians, Collosians , etc).

    1. Ok, what about the parents that keep god and Jesus in their lives everyday? The parents who attend church with their children regularly and read the bible every night and read a little to their children? What if the child still has those thoughts? Some teenager, whether or not their parents are regular attenders of church with their kids, have the same thoughts about church.

  7. Today I am faced with this issue. Thanks for your insight. My mother decided to stay home to rest and my daughter wants to follow. My daughter is 6. Now my mother instead of encouraging my daughter to go has said that she is happy my daughter does not want to go because is nonsense I’m doing going to church every Sunday. I have decided to use this opportunity to teach my daughter the importance of church worship but I’m guilty of not making faith a daily practice with my daughter. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of your articles. Thanks for creating this blog to assist parents train their children in the Christian faith.

  8. Please excuse all the typos…im typing on my phone!)
    I feel God calling me to a small church in our town. We have attended the largest church in town and my daughters were bith saved and baptised there. However we eventually quit going. Now through several circumstances I felt the Lord calling me to a small church. We have visited a couple times and I am sure that is where the Lord wantz me to be. The people were so friendly and the pastor preached old fashioned style that I love. My daughters however were looking for the church band with guitars and drums…none of that here. There weren’t even many kids especially there age in attendance. Am I wrong about wanting to make this our church home? I feel my girls are a little spoiled and perhaps are more interested in a social scene and entertainment from church. And I thought maybe Gid is leading us there as part of growing this little church…and maybe he wants us to be a part of tbat. I dont know! I’m scared to drag them there if tbsy don’t want to go when tbere friends go to big churches with huge youth programs and activities. Anyone have any advice?

  9. There are a lot of relevant reasons why kids do not want to go to church. For me, the reasons that stood out are #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6. I think that a point mentioned in #3 is very true that kids are not able to clearly explain why in their situation why they don’t have friends or that no one likes them. I wasn’t able to fully explain why when I was a child and teen, but if I had an opportunity and go back to the church I left and explain why, I would be able to, and maybe make them listen. When I used to go to a Lutheran church, they were all about activities and filling in their needs on their schedule. As far as the religious aspect, they would pretty much only talk about being saved, and that all that will matter is if they believe in Jesus Christ they will go to heaven–if not, they will go to Hell. Those two ponts seemed to matter more than how they treated other people and even more important than the 10 Commandments. They didn’t care if they would break any of the commandments as long as it was not the first and maybe even the second commandment.

    I did not like I where I was when I was in the Lutheran church because I did not have any REAL friends in that church. I only went there because a friend from school so wanted me to go there. The other kids were just mean, and constantly talked down to me. They din’t like where I went to school. Almost all the kids at the church went to the same high school or other suburban schools, and I went to a city school, which wasn’t good enough. The Youth Leader that we had was nice, but not much older than we were. Looking back, he lacked the experience and training to be a true Youth Leader. From what I could tell, he would favor the other kids because he also lived in the same general area/district that they lived in. I did not feel that I could turn to him or anyone for anything or any guidance that I needed.

    I do feel that when families or even if it is only the kids going to the church, the parents should take the responsibility to know what is going on in church and church activities. Unfortunately, when I went to this church, my mom did not always go that often, except when she was told it was her turn to drive. So, my mom did not see what would go on when I would go to church there. I tried telling her that I was not happy there, and that the other kids constantly teased me and treated me like garbage. My mom would talk to my friend’s mom, and get her side of the story, and that was pretty much it, my voice did not matter. I feel that when I went to that church, that my mom was trying to use that church to replace her role in spending quality time with me. I feel that this church did not fulfill any of my needs, socially or spiritually, and anything that my mom did try to engrain in me was torn apart whenever I was at that church.

    I feel that parents need to be involved in knowing what their kids and other kids are doing at church, and to make sure that the environment is re-enforcing what the parents are teaching their kids at home, that their child(ren) are happy at that church, and that the church is giving them positive guidance on how to live the faith. A church is not worth attending if all it teaches is to only focus on salvation without living life.

  10. My question to anyone who’ll want to answer it is this:
    “How much does the LOOK of the children’s area factor into your child’s eagerness of going to church?”

    I work for a company that builds small branded interiors in sections of the churches and other buildings (Information desks, Kiosks, Missions Centers, etc) Increasingly we are doing more work for larger churches making the kid’s areas more inviting. Do you feel the look of the area is a factor?
    Note: I’m not selling anything 🙂 Just asking whether it’s a contributing factor. As a mom of 4 it actually is for me.

  11. Before my daughter started Jr. High, she had lots of friends she had grown up with. We live in a very small town. She loved going to church, doing church activities, anything that involved church, she loved it. Everything changed when she started Jr. High. Like I said she had lots of friends, she is a beautiful girl inside and out. She would do anything for anybody,
    There was one girl who my daughter was friends with that the other girls really didnt like, however that did not matter to my daughter, she liked the girl and didnt want to leave anyone out. As with most groups of girls you always have a queen bee. My daughter started spending a lot of time with the queen bee. I noticed my daughter even starting to act a little like her. I guess the other girl (the one the others didn’t really like, but tolerated because my daughter was friends with her) became jealous of their relationship. I had always overheard her comments when she would stay with us about why the queen bee didn’t like her or why she wasn’t good enough to be her friend. My daughter always answered the same sweet way I would have. However now this girl had found a way to make the queen bee like her. She knew my duaghter had shared with her about a boy she liked, who happened to be the same boy the queen bee liked. The boys family was in the same deer camp as we were so my daughter had hung out with him and the other kids out there. Needless to say the girls ploy worked. Every friend my daughter ever had turned on her out of fear of retribution from the queen bee. It got worse too. The girls began making up lies about my daughter being a whore and a slut. she has supposedly been pregnant 3 times and had 3 abortions. Just crazy stuff. We had to take her to counceling. She had thought about suicide many times. Thanks be to God she is a much happier, stronger 16 year old who is in her first year of high school. She still does not have a lot of friends, but the ones shes does have are worthy. I sorry this story was so long. Our problem now is that all those girls who were so ugly to her now go to our church. My daughter refuses to go because she says the minute she walks in the door, the girls and others start snickering at her. I know what all the has been through and I don’t want to bring those memories back to her. My question is should I try going with her one Sunday to help make her more comfortable. Ive tried everything else from talking to the new youth minister, and yes other parents. Believe it or not these are Christian parents who have told me i was over ;protective since she was my only child, there child would never do those things my daughter ACCUSED THEM OF, some even told me i needed to keep a better eye on her (apparently because they believed all the kids gossip and rumors about my daughter)…I dont know what to do, other than find a new church, and in such a small town there really aren’t any.

    1. this hurts my heart to hear. I am a parent of a kid that was bullied at school and i wouldn’t want my son to have to endure bullying at church. Please find another place to worship. Church is for fellowshipping and being on one accored with believers as well as hearing the word of God. That can be difficult if negativity surrounds you. i would drive for miles to find a church where i and my family could be comfortable. good luck and God bless

  12. Well said and thank you for sharing. I am so humbled and grateful that I had parents and grandparents that so “Hungered for Jesus” that they passed it along to us so … so much so that I can honestly say without any shame or doubt…I always wanted to go to church, be with other believers, and serve humbly with my God…

  13. I, being considered a minor since I am 16, hate church for nearly all of the reasons you had listed and more. I was born into the church with no choice of course, and had to grow up listening to the boring pastor who would read evidence from the bible and what we should do, not knowing what was being said most of the time. However, as I grew up I started questioning the church more and more often. These questions would often go unanswered and if answered, would just lead to even more questions. One of these questions include: :If god knows everything, then wouldn’t he know whether you will be saved or not?”. My mom is a super hardcore christian and her hearing me question the church breaks her heart. I would (and still am) often argue with her about church. I would tell her I have other things to do like school work or study for an important final. She would just ignore me and my feelings and say,”go to church, god will give you knowledge and answers”. Boy, did that give me answers for my AP classes at the time! These arguments between me and my mom about church distance our relationship and would hurt both of us badly. She would also say things that hurt me feelings badly (to the point where I considered suicide) such as “you will never amount to anything in life because you don’t go to church” and “someday I will leave you guys because I had failed god since I could not bring you into the “fold”. She considers church before anything else including family and school and would always hurt me vastly. I always try to reason with her logically and calmly but she does not listen to a single word I say. I once believed in God and Jesus and would pray to them every night so that my parents would not divorce. All I got was more suffering, watching my sisters grow up without both their parents, family members fighting with each other and lord knows what else. I try not to seek help from any of my parents since they both are quick-tempered so I dont really get a say in anything. She would swear I would do drugs and live on the street because I didn’t go to church. I try my hardest in school and get sraight As but even that isn’t enough to replace my moms expectations for church. She does not understand the work load I am put through in school ( in addition to being in sports,orchestra, and piano).

    1. My heart hurts reading what you’ve shared. I’m not much older than you at 18, and i was born into a nominally christian family. A large part of my childhood we did not even go to church, and it was only when i encountered God for the first time and became a christian at 16 that i came back. Friend what your mother says is unhealthy and damaging. It’s definitely not the right way to show Christ, or show what following Him looks like. It’s ok to question the church. It’s failed as an institution many times. And no doubt you’ve seen pain and suffering close to you and questioned where God had been when it happened. There is nothing wrong with questioning God. Have you read the book of Job in the bible? It’s 40 chapters of Job lamenting his existence and demanding answers for all the suffering that he had gone through, and God had allowed. I don’t know if you still believe in Him, but I can tell you that in reality God is not so small as to not be able to stand up in light of questions arising from human experience – after all, He made us. My heart breaks for all the pain that you’ve gone through, where you are with things. The church thing with your mom is something that will just have to figure itself out in time, but i implore you to not give up on God. He loves you and you are precious in His sight. He is close to the brokenhearted and father to the fatherless. I don’t know how to express all this well in one post. Please talk to me if you like – [email protected]. God cares about you, and so do i.

  14. so im 13 and my family switched churches about 2 years ago the church I went to before was a normal sized church and I loved it I had friends I got involved a ton my parents forced me and my older to switch churches with them me and my brother were not looking forward too it (there are a total off 800 kids total in youth group at my new church) but the first day we got there my brother found tons of people he knew school friends activity friends etc. there I stood alone pretty much wanting to just ball my eyes out. I hated it then it got worse they told me I was part of my grade girls A supposedly small group I found my group sat down and looked across the table to see all the girls glaring at me and whispering to each other I sat there alone and to this day I still sit alone. I have lots of friends at school but I can’t get involved or anything at this church and I feel like my relationship with Christ is getting weaker because Im not involved at church and have no one to talk to at church. and my parents tell me I have friends there but I dont

  15. I could use some words of wisdom. My son is almost 15, a freshman in high school, and a pretty well-rounded kid. He has a girlfriend, lots of friends in school, participates in marching band and boy scouts. We’ve been part of a small church since he was in kindergarten. When he was younger, he participated in most activities, even played two parts in the Christmas play one year. During middle school, he was confirmed and went to youth some, but never really seemed to care too much about going, but he went. I admit that I worked for a couple of years while he was in middle school and didn’t make him go. I didn’t grow up in a youth group, neither did my husband, and I’ve always like having Sunday nights at home to get ready for the week. Anyway, that’s my part I’ve played in this, I suppose.

    We are in a situation now where he doesn’t mind going to church, helping with VBS every summer, but he doesn’t like youth at all. I tried to force him to do some things last year, and early this year, but finally gave up. My reasoning is that I don’t want him to hate church all together if I force him, and this way he is still going to church. But the problem is that now I feel awkward around people, because when he does come, and when he comes to things where youth are there, he is treated like an outsider because he isn’t involved. The youth director there has given me the feeling that it’s all or nothing, and completely leaves him out with facebook posts (like congratulating the marching band) and she won’t talk to me or even look at me at church. It’s like they think my son thinks he’s too good for them, and that really isn’t the case. He does have a pretty full life and friends outside of church and I know that youth is the main social outlet for many of them in the youth, so perhaps they are snubbing him because they think he is a snob. I try to smooth this over, but it is still awkward. I wish people would just treat us like normal and be normal instead of weird… I mean, it’s not like we are terrible people, and why treat us this way simply because we choose not to do something? It’s getting to the point where I am getting uncomfortable, and it’s starting make me mad, to be honest, because I am friendly and do my best to be nice. And I’m not going to force my son to do something simply because of the way they are treating us and the way they are making me feel.

    1. I want to add that leaving the church isn’t an option right now. I have a younger daughter that is involved in the children’s activities and loves it.

      1. I am going through a similar situation. I really don’t want my sons going on the trips, sitting with the youth group. Some of the boys are talking about sexual things, and giving them the wrong idea about the opposite sex. The parents and the youth are snobbish, righteous in their own eyes, all about keeping up with the Jone’s, struggling to forge relationships with pkwerful or rich people in the church, shunning anyone who may make them look bad. I just know that what the body of Christ is supposed to be, and what it is, are two different things. I’m so discouraged with the church, but I have prayed and sought the Lord’s will, and He seems to want me to stay tbere. Ugh.

  16. Hello,people. I’m a Christian that is almost an adult and when I have kids in a few years,and if they ask me if we can leave church,or if they look like they want us to leave church,that’s not an option. And let me tell you this: Before I became a Christian, my grandparents and I went to church every Sunday . And one time I was curious about what can happen if we leave church and I asked my grandmother and she said “no”with her eyes wide open and now I know why and I knew some boy as a little girl that said to me that church is boring ,and that is a negative Christian attitude. I mean,really?!

  17. I was looking for answers for why my child does not like church or Sunday school. When in reality I know why. I was her age once and I did not like going to church,but it was not a choice for me. We went to church every Sunday,even when we were away on a vacation. I am Catholic. I found church boring,because I felt like I was there saying the prays and signing the songs because that was what I was supposed to do. I never understood the priests sermons,I could not relate to anything he was saying. So that made me very bored. I did not know what I was supposed to get out of going to church.
    I went to church every Sunday until I was 25 yrs old.
    I was now married and living my own life. I could decide if I wanted to go to church. Today I do go to church,but not every Sunday. I go when I feel I need to be there. I do not feel going to church makes you a good Catholic or person,but rather how you live your life is what makes you a good person.
    What I am struggling with now is my husband is not Catholic and does not follow the catholic religion with me or our children. Our children are raised Catholic cause that is my religion.
    My oldest daughter does not like going to church,or Sunday school. We do not go to church on a regular basis,and when we do it is just me and the kids. So my daughter asks why she has to go and not daddy.
    I feel like I follow the Catholic religion cause that is how I was raised,and that is what I know. Honestly I feel like sometimes I do not know my religion. You go to church and make all the sacraments cause that is what u do. I have never read the bible, I feel like I struggle trying to explain my religion to my kids. What is the reason or purpose behind receiving all the scar amends. Sometimes I feel like homeschooling them for religion just so I can get a better grasp of the Catholic religion. My parents are devot Catholics and I can not imagine how they must feel cause I do not go to or take my kids to church every week.
    Sorry for rambling,I am just trying to figure out how to have God present in my kids lives. I feel without Sunday school and going to church that they may not have religion as part of their life.

  18. When I was a teenager, I went to a Lutheran church. The reason that I went to this church in the first place was because a friend of mine from school wanted me to go, I was okay, at first to go this church, but it got to be a real burden in my life. From the get-go, my friend and her mother knew that I did not have transportation to and from church, and the church was not in reasonable distance to walk. After I was going to that church for a while, I noticed things in the church, the way people in the church acted, how they treated me, I started to lose interest in the church. But my friend as well as her mother got so pushy and hell-bent on having me attend every church function that I became resentful. They even conned my mother into “picking up the slack” on driving them to church every other week and activities, as needed. Personally, I did not believe that it was my mom’s responsibility because I could take it or leave it at anytime. I believe that my mom having to drive was the only reason I was obligated to go to these irrelevant activities, all because my mom would NOT put her foot down and tell them “Look, I cannot be expected to drive you every time something comes up. Ellen doesn’t even want to go to _______ activity. When you wanted Ellen to go to church with you, you knew that she didn’t have transportation.” I put that phrase in quotes because I believe that this is what my mother should have said to them, and maybe they would not have bullied me into going to that church in the first place. Looking back on this, I think that the only reason that my friend wanted me to go to church with her was so her mom could dump at least half of the responsibility of driving so they wouldn’t have to. To be honest, when I started going to that church, I did not anticipate obligations and activities outside of Sunday worship. And what is so sad about the whole thing is, the only reason that most people were going to that church was for social activities. Going to church had very little to do with God or even worship. People in the church were focusing on upcoming activities, and using worship as a formality because I guess some churches state that in order to participate in social activities, you must go to church once or twice a month.

    I now go to a Catholic Church, and I am very happy there. I go to mass regularly and I actually benefit from the mass. The Catholic Church does not really focus that much on social activities, they focus more on religious and sacramental needs. I realize that in the Catholic churches that a lot of people do not know each other because they do interact. But, if the church did have activities, I don’t know if they would treat like an obligation like the Lutheran church does. To me, activities are not an obligation, but optional. Optional meaning, anyone should be able to attend as often or as little as they wish without any pressure or interrogations from other people. I think that this is one of the big reasons why people leave churches because they are being pestered and pressured into participating in things that are not (always) important. I can say that from my experience in the Lutheran Church, I spent a lot of time there, but did not have any real friends there. Most people my age were always gossiping or asking inappropriate questions leading to judging people.

    So, instead of assuming that kids have no interest in church because they do not believe in God, pay attention to what your child is saying. I think points 1-5 mentioned above are very important. If you ignore what your child is saying or trying to tell you about why they don’t want to go to church, then how can you expect them to believe that you will listen to them with any other issues that come up. It is very difficult for children to connect with other peers when they are growing up and they hear a lot of things from multiple groups or persons, or because kids in church might have a different upbringing which leads to different values on things. I know, because I was a child once. My mother gave us a good foundation and instilled in my brother, sister and me to know right from wrong and to have good conduct. We got that without going to church. But when I started going to church with my Lutheran friend, a lot of this started to fall apart because adults in the church were trying to “discipline me” if I did not agree with something. My mom didn’t intervene when adults in that church would take a sassy tone with me. I don’t think that I every misbehaved in their church, however, I was bullied in that church and no one did anything. I was told over and over again that I am expected to forgive because that is what Jesus did. So, in other words, this Lutheran Church really did not give a damn about how they treated people. I think that when people in church have poor conduct, they should not blame people for not wanting to come back. If members in a church do not treat people right, then it’s no wonder that people might feel points 6, 7 or 8 above because they certainly aren’t getting anything from church that makes them feel relevant or close to God.

  19. So I have a different issue, but if I could get some feedback I would appreciate it.
    My husband decided to join a different church . We attended the same church for 2 years. He didn’t feel the church fit us anymore. He wasn’t getting what he needed. Since changing churches he has made so great changes in his life. Now he wants us to follow him. But we don’t want to. My kids love their church and I can go to either but I like the first one better. I don’t get to go often because I work Sundays. But when I do I go with my husband. Should I force my kids to change churches? I’m trying to leave this question without my input since I will undoubtedly argue point better than his.

  20. I never attended a “Youth Group” and neither did anyone else I knew growing up and about 85% remain in Church. I am perplexed at the “Youth Pastor” situation and Youth Group scenarios. The failure rate for keeping kids meaningfully in Church with these approaches is outstandingly high. I worked with a lot of kids over a 20 year period in Church, 4H, and baseball. I can’t name a single kid that is now anywhere from 19-28 that participated in a Youth Group that is still actively involved in Church. And this covers a large socioeconomic strata as well as numerous denominations. I can name 70-80 who went down the other route and are still active. The difference was that the parent or parents were active both in Church and in the religion….day in and day out. These kids come from all walks of life and Churches with as little as 50 and as large as 1500. No Youth Pastors and no Youth Groups. I can name any number of families who were traumatized to find the Youth Pastor communicating with kids unbeknownst to the parents. In reality this seems to happen a lot more than it should, which in reality should be never.

  21. I’m 14 and I think the reason I don’t like to go to church or associate myself with other Christians if the fact that my mom has always forced her religion on me. She doesn’t let it happen and she doesn’t understand other ways of life. But I have a question. A boy I’m friends with from school asked me and is begging me to go to church with him. I’m really worried that I’m gonna be judged by him, his family, and the others in the church. Because keep in mind I barely know this boy and I don’t know anyone at his church. I barely go to church with my own family. Should I go or say no?

  22. My little boy almost loves everyone on this church,he was always given a part to sing at young age 4,but most kids are really mean to him ,constantly saying they dont like him.Im not really comfortable in this church because of favoritism,faction ,groupings,I just cant stand going to this church.Because mostly members if they are not in favor with you ,you barely will see a genuine acceptance with them.I hate favoritism in the church

  23. i am literally going through this very thing with my Older son’s. I struggle with it because the younger kids LOVE church they are active and love being there. My pastor is like teaching about it as I type this right now. What is the answer? I am dealing with a lot and the last thing I need it for my boys who are supposed to be awesome men of God and they would rather do anything and everything else than be around Jesus and his people.

  24. I never liked church because it was so time consuming. The boredom there was certainly a factor, but I could have dealt with that if it didn’t end up consuming nearly the entire day.

    “It’s just one hour when you have the rest of the week to yourself” I often heard. That is very mistaken. School consumed the vast majority of my week, and my schooldays (now some 40 years ago) lasted about nine hours daily. . . some seven hours in class, combined with an hour’s bus ride twice a day through unpaved rural Iowa. I thoroughly hated that part. Left home at 7:30, and never got back before 4:30. That’s a lot for a kid.

    Getting my mother up and going was never a quick process, so we usually ended up at a later service. Waiting for her took up most of the morning, and because we got going so late that by the time we got back and had our customary family breakfast (what my father called it, was actually a very late lunch. . . 1 or 2 in the afternoon was typical) even more time was taken. Factor in the long drives going and coming, and a large part of a precious day off school was consumed. All of this, combined with the growing tension of returning to school the next day made my “day of rest” very stressful and miserable.

  25. Would you accept an answer from someone who went to church as a kid, but then left? And the reasons I left have absolutely nothing to do with anything you mentioned. I’m sure you won’t like this answer, but it is an honest one.

    The reason I want nothing to do with churches has nothing to do with Jesus — it’s that how Christian live and act doesn’t either. Look at politics. Trump says all black people are dogs and brown people are criminals and neo-nazis are very fine people — and Christians overwhelmingly support him. He brags about assaulting women, supports those who say rape is god’s plan for women’s lives, and eliminates funding for rape prevention around the world — and Christians overwhelmingly support him. Christians support policies to increase teenage pregnancy, and oppose healthcare for poor mothers — if you believe that Christians are “pro-life” it makes no sense, but if you believe they want to maximize suffering for anyone who doesn’t comply, it fits perfectly. They support violence against non-Christians or minorities, or at least vote overwhelmingly that they do.

    This isn’t about Trump — it’s about Christians. In my church growing up, they sang a song about how you will know Christians by their love. Well, rape and racism and bigotry and violence and mocking the poor and hatred, that’s not love. But if you look at Christians in politics, that is the Christian gospel. And it’s been that way for a long time, from the Moral Majority to the Christian Coalition to Focus on the Family to the gospel of Trump today.

    Being a Christian unfortunately means supporting hate and violence — or at least voting for those who do, and promoting social policies that do — or at a minimum aligning yourself with an overwhelming majority who do. And it’s not a problem isolated to a few bad apples, it’s mainstream especially in evangelical churches. I wanted to be a good person, making the world a better place as God teaches — and I couldn’t do that with a clear conscience in a church.

    That’s not the way it should be. That’s not what Jesus taught. But it is what it is. I have no issue with God. It’s self-righteous people using God as an excuse to be awful to each other that I don’t like.

    A clever youth minister can’t override the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong in the gospel.

  26. I know this post is old, but my issue with church when I was a child was that I was forced to go with no exceptions. My household was very strict, and the message of God was overwhelmingly bashed in our heads. My siblings and I felt isolated from the real world leaving us to be weird even to church people. Of course, when we got older, we rebelled, but we loved God. I certainly think there needs to be a balance. Also, issues in my family life led me to doubt our commitment to faith altogether. I did not believe in Christianity as my church taught it. And all the other points are true. Please talk with your kids about their faith and see what they actually believe. Don’t assume and force them to believe like you. Find a church where they actively involve the kids. The child’s church experience is even more important than the parent. You already know God!

  27. Thank you for sharing this post. I too am commenting years later (lol!) but I do feel I must share my thoughts.

    I’m a Christian in my early twenties and grew up going to church with my mother. My father never went with us – His parents were very overbearing on him regarding faith and he had bad experiences in the church as a result. He has since turned away from God and is a believer in evolution. With one parent a Christian and another living their life separate from God, I remember it sending some mixed signals to me.

    When I was in elementary school, I would always ask my mom why Daddy didn’t have to go to church while I was forced to. I got it in my head that when I became an adult, I would have the freedom to not go to church either. Looking back now I see my mom struggled greatly trying to teach me a faith based life when my father would actively avoid conversations about God. To your point above, I didn’t really have friends/connect with anyone in youth group, mainly because I was shy and kept to myself. We moved to a small town when I was in middle school. I found the youth groups at the churches we visited to be cliquey because most of the children grew up together and knew each other already.

    So my mom stopped forcing me to attend youth groups. I sat in with her and the adults for regular service. I found myself growing bored and zoning out a lot. I felt something was wrong with me because everyone else seemed to enjoy church and have these super emotional reactions while I didn’t. I have always been a believer in Christ and in living your life according to the Bible, but for some reason, “church was boring”, a “chore” you had to do to prove your faith. When I voiced my thoughts to my mother, she would scold me and say I was disappointing God by saying that. I felt so guilty and that I was a “bad Christian” for questioning the importance of going to church on Sundays.

    When I hit 18, my mother no longer forced me to go to church. My attendance became very sporadic throughout college. I did attend college youth group once or twice, but that’s it.

    Ever since not attending church, I felt a nagging emptiness. Even when I would listen to sermon podcasts, I knew in my heart it was not enough. God has really been telling me not to give up on finding a faith community. Recently I moved to a new city and found a church I’ve been very impressed with – It has a really engaging and robust young adult program and social meet up fellowship groups that do fun activities outside of church. The pastor is phenomenal – He goes in depth about the importance of church and fellowship and answered so many questions I didn’t dare ask my mother (I just didn’t want her to get the wrong idea and think I was considering leaving my faith). I don’t have friends there yet but feel really hopeful. Aside from having those questions about church, I think one of the major reasons I felt a disconnect when attending was the lack of personal relationships with those in the congregation. I didn’t really feel I had a reason to go beyond being told to by my mother.

    I don’t have kids, but I think parents should be open to hearing their children’s thoughts. Kids should feel comfortable asking questions about God, church and the Bible without fear of being shamed. It’s those discussions that help them understand what they believe and why it’s important.

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