Time to send your teenager to a different church?

Posted on Aug 3, 2011 in Parenting

Send your teen to a new churchAs a P.K., I grew up in my dad’s church from the time I was 1 year old to 18 years old. He’s still serving there today — in fact, he celebrated 30 years of ministry at that church two weeks ago! — but there came a time when I needed to leave. For all my life I was the pastor’s kid. Everyone knew me in the context of my family and my dad, which was fine, but as my identity was forming in my teenage years I wanted to be independent of that relational context with everyone at church. I wanted people to know me for me. I wanted relationships that weren’t deeply rooted in my childhood years nor connected to the rest of my family. I wanted to be known as “Tim Schmoyer” and who I felt I was becoming, not “the pastor’s kid” who was “growing up.”

After starting the youth ministry program in Bible college, I was invited by a youth pastor at a larger church in town to come intern there. I had been willing to leave my dad’s church throughout high school, but didn’t have another place to go until that invitation. So, after one visit to scope out the church and its youth ministry, it was a year or two before I visited my dad’s church again. Although there was some criticism at my dad’s church for my transition (especially it’s abrupt nature), it was the best thing for me to do and my parents fully supported me through it.

This morning I talked with a youth pastor who’s oldest son is in middle school. The dad wants his son to learn from other people besides him and wants his son to form his own independence outside the very-present nature of their family at church, so he’s considering other churches in the area where his son can possibly attend youth group instead of his own.

It’s an interesting perspective. Personally, as a teen I would’ve jumped on that opportunity to attend youth group at a different church (solely for my own independence reasons) had my parents considered it, but yet I understand that it feels potentially threatening to send your kid to a different church. People in your own church start asking questions: “What’s wrong with our own youth group that he your son can’t be here? Why aren’t you committed to growing our own church instead of someone else’s? Are you teaching your kid that he doesn’t need to be committed to a church?”

QUESTION: As a pastor, would you send your teen to a different church in town? Why, or why not?

About the author,

Tim is a dad who is imperfectly pursuing his wife and children while ultimately trying to pursue the Lord's vision for his family. He's written a few books and dabbles in online video, mostly to support his primary ministry at home.

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