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Village Blog

Make Church Irresistible

Posted by David Wood on


Getting teenagers to church can be a Herculean task. At some point, it’s tempting to stop fighting with kids and just let them make their own decisions about faith and worship. But God entrusts Christian parents to provide instruction about him and his laws (see Deuteronomy 6:5-9).

So what are parents to do—especially when church seems boring or irrelevant even to you? Thom and Joani Schultz tackle that topic in their new book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore (Group Publishing). People today often complain that churches aren’t making Jesus real to them, yet the message of Jesus’ unconditional love is needed now more than ever.

One solution, the Schultzes say, is to understand how people actually discover and learn for themselves—through conversation, experience, and story-based approaches. “Just look at how Jesus interacted in his ministry,” Joani told GROUP magazine. “He was very relational and asked lots of great questions that forced people to grapple and discover for themselves. We need to really trust that process because Jesus did; we forget that we can trust the Holy Spirit. We create an environment that is rich with love and acceptance and the Gospel, and then we let God go to town.”

Churches and parents can embrace this advice as they work together to engage young people with worship and, ultimately, with God.


In Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore, Thom and Joani Schultz recommend four “acts of love” that are based on how Jesus lived. Use these acts to help bring kids closer to God:

    • Radical Hospitality. Kids feel welcome when they’re known by name, accepted, appreciated, missed when they aren’t around, and loved unconditionally. Express the joy you find in simply being with your kids.
    • Fearless Conversation. Interact with kids verbally about what they’re learning in church or youth group, beyond fact-based questions. Don’t be afraid to discuss tough topics that teenagers wonder about and would benefit from discussing. Kids are already wondering about the tough stuff and need to know that God is with them throughout it. Be real. Be authentic. Let God’s Holy Spirit guide you.
    • Genuine Humility. Focus more on the relationship that you and your kids are developing with God than on appearances and various accomplishments. There’s freedom and relief in that.
    • Divine Anticipation. As you talk to kids about God and the Bible, it’s easy to get stuck in the past tense. Yet teenagers need to know that God is very much here—now. Invite them to watch for God in everyday details and to share these “God sightings” with you. That habit will help them develop a personal, blessed expectation of God.

The View

    • Contrary to perceptions, most young people don’t lose their faith after high school. Only one out of nine young people who grow up in a Christian home lose their faith and become “prodigals.” But about four in 10 become “nomads” who wander away from participation in an institutional church. —Barna Group
    • When 23,000 Christian teenagers were surveyed about their commitment levels, the highest-ranking statement was “I’m absolutely sure that I’ll stay connected to a church after I graduate from high school.”


Questions to Ask

    • What positive and negative connotations do you have about church, and how do they compare to your kids’ views?
    • What things or people get you most excited about worship, and why?
    • What are some ways you can ignite your own faith—and your teenager’s?

Heartfelt Advice

Expert Insights for Parents of Teenagers | By GROUP Magazine

Heartfelt Advice

A Christian school asked 14-year-olds to share advice with a new believer. Here are excerpts from one of the letters:

Dearest Warrior,
I know you’ve recently made the most important decision of your life. You’re now secure in the Savior’s arms. Can you feel his love flowing in your veins? It’s so amazing that he died for you!

You’re at the beginning of the best but most arduous journey of your life. To grow closer to God, you must study his Word. You also can talk to the Savior—he absolutely loves to listen to you. You must quiet your heart to hear him,
though. The Savior is quiet, and you can’t hear him if you’re surrounded by noise.

Another great way to grow is to fellowship with other Christians. This isn’t necessarily always in a church building—it could mean attending a small group or praying with Christian friends. The Word says that when two or more Christians come before God, something amazing happens.

Remember—though you’re saved, you’re still a sinner and nowhere near perfect. The Destroyer will still try to tempt you, even though you’re a child of God. A great example of how to react is in Matthew 4:1-11. When Satan tempted Jesus, he simply replied by quoting Scripture. Ephesians 6:10-18 talks about the armor of God, which protects you from evil.

The step after growing in your faith is sharing God’s Word with others. At first this may be terrifying, but as your passion for the Savior grows, so will your passion to share him with others. Some people will openly accept Jesus, but others will reject him. Don’t get discouraged when people reject him. It isn’t your job to work in their hearts; that’s what God does.

I hope you’ll take my advice and grow in your love and admiration for the Savior. —GROUP magazine

Bible Focus | Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Past Event Highlights

Media Reviews


Jamie Grace


Toby Mac discovered this singer-songwriter via YouTube in 2010. Two years later, she won the Dove Award for New Artist of the Year. Her single “Hold Me” hit it big on Christian radio. Grace, now 22, was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome at age 11.


Ready to Fly (2014), One Song at a Time (2011)

    What Jamie Grace Says

    When discussing her song “God Girl,” she says, “I don’t know if the first guy I date will end up being my husband, but I do know I’m not going to date anyone who isn’t husband material. If a guy isn’t working with me spiritually, doesn’t respect my parents, and doesn’t respect his parents, then he’s not dating material because he’s not husband material.”


    Her music is available on YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, and Spotify. 


    Jennifer Nettles


    Nettles, 39, is best known as lead vocalist of the award-winning country group Sugarland. Now she’s releasing her long-anticipated debut solo album, which explores her roots in both country and gospel music. (Nettles began singing in her Southern Baptist church while growing up in Georgia.) In 2008, Nettles launched Common Thread, which encourages musicians to raise money for their favorite charities


    That Girl (2014)

    What Jennifer Says

    Of venturing into a solo album, she says, “I think it’s way more intimate to me and way more personal in the sense that when you collaborate…you’re affecting each other, and playing with and inspiring each other, and yet there are things that one may not get to do or want to do when collaborating.”


    Her music is available on YouTube, Google Play, iTunes, and Spotify. 

    Disclaimer: This review is not intended to endorse this artist, but rather to inform parents.


    The Princess Bride

    "With its swashbuckling action, wholesome romance and wry humor, this unconventional fairy tale has become a cult classic. To overlook its moral themes would be, well, inconceivable!"

    A Movie Night is a golden opportunity for parents and children to have a meaningful, biblically based discussion about one of the better films coming out of Hollywood. It's also the term used for the downloadable curricula PluggedIn Online has created to help you accomplish that.

    "Movie Nights for Teens," encourages parents and adolescents to explore deeper issues with the help of more challenging, mature-minded films. These Movie Nights are more dialogue-oriented and intended for older children (13 and up), but the goals remain the same: Have fun, enrich the parent/child relationship and help children learn to analyze media from a Christian perspective. 

    Download Movie Night PDF


    Gimme Shelter

    Genre: Drama, Inspirational

    Rating: PG-13

    Synopsis: Based on a true story, Gimme Shelter is a gritty, painfully grown-up depiction of what it looks like when a teenager (Vanessa Hudgens) is forced to grow up too soon. It grapples with and pushes toward hope and life in the midst of pregnancy, abandonment, homelessness and abuse.

    PluggedIn's Take: Gimme Shelter, based on a true story, is a gritty, painfully grown-up depiction of teen pregnancy, abandonment, homelessness and child abuse. As Apple, Vanessa Hudgens (of High School Musical fame) is nearly unrecognizable underneath her piercings and unkempt hair. And this role may well mark her as a serious actress capable of doing serious work.

    An aside: Often, we hear about former Mouse House princesses wanting or (some say) needing to become more "adult"—a transition typically marked, ironically, by increasingly juvenile stunts and immature decisions. But as Miley Cyrus twerks her way to ever greater notoriety, and even as Hudgens herself makes forays in that direction (with Spring Breakers and Machete Kills), Apple pushes Hudgens into a role that requires real maturity—playing a teen forced to grow up much too young.

    This isn't necessarily a family-friendly movie. Young children wouldn't (and shouldn't) easily understand the subject matter; they could easily be hurt by the intensity of the conflict surrounding it. And it's not technically a Christian movie—at least not as we've come to understand the term in recent years. (See Fireproof, Grace Unplugged and I'm in Love With a Church Girl for reference.) But it does spend a great deal of time teaching us about God, His love, His direction and His care. And it may be the most persuasively pro-life movie we've ever reviewed here at Plugged In.

    Gimme Shelter is about great kindness in the midst of severe suffering. It's about what a difference people can make under difficult circumstances. It's about courage, about growing up, about letting go of past pain in order to secure a better future. And it's about protecting children while they're unable to protect themselves—both 16-year-olds and 0-year-olds. It doesn't deny the awfulness that life throws at us sometimes. It just says that if we look hard enough (and accept God's guidance here and there), we can find our way … well, to shelter.

    Read the Full Review

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