Saturday, January 31, 2009

Church: The Next Generation

Why do church services not appeal to teenagers? Does it depend on which church? Is the church making God look bad?


  1. If my ideas about socialization are correct, they suggest that competition for the attention of young people from other sources of information about how the world should be is crowding out the lessons from parents and religious leaders.

    It doesn't help that religious socialization is an inherently limiting message--largely an argument for delayed gratification that places emphasis on constraining behavior today as a way to avoid eternal punishment.

    This was more effective before humans began to find scientific explanations for nature and reduced the scope of possible intervention by God. Growing interconnectedness and diversity also limits the effects of religious socialization, since it exposes people to other cultures and social environments. This may not induce us to adopt other cultural and religious norms, but it makes them seem less threatening--less "other."

    Remember that for young people, especially very young people, religion has as much to do with fear as with love. Our youth are exposed to new ideas much earlier now, and they both fear offending God less, and find love elsewhere more.

  2. What about the return that is "now"? No matter what world view one espouses, there is, for example a social advantages. For most, it introduces them to a new group of people with, as you say, a shared view or system. They would share some beliefs, geography, etc. which isn't a bad start to gaining a social advantage.

    I don't know any active youth who view participating in this system as giving up something now to gain something later, maybe because they don't think that far ahead.

    The church today asserts that THIS life is superior, because of the peace that comes from having some of the big issues settled. God would change our desires to His desires.

  3. Is this a serious question? If you have raised a teenager the answer is obvious. Teenagers are totally hormonal, self-centered creatures who believe the world revolves around what they want. They don't like anything they think is "boring." This includes church, school or any other activity that doesn't satisfy them emotionally. Chruch is just one item on a long list of things that are "boring".

    My experience raising 4 of these creatures is that their brain disengages from their body at the age of 12 or 13 and doee not reconnect until they get to be about 25.

  4. I guess that's what I get for requesting honesty and "actual" truth vs. philosophical truth.

    I have known teenagers that were very committed and glad to be.

    I do not have any teenagers of my own who meet this qualification.

  5. I raised a girl myself, and she often showed a disregard for rationality during her teens.

    But something must explain why many kids--as Richard correctly points out--behave with great maturity when it comes to planning, committing to service, and managing their lives in thoughtful ways.

    I think socialization has something to do with this. If parents and other adults develop close relationships with kids, they can strongly influence their attitudes, values, and behavior. The key is to do more than simply tell them the rules and than demand obedience. Kids need security and boundaries, but they must also be taught to evaluate what happens around them and make decisions.

    This is how you get the committed kids Richard talks about: communicate with them, and let them decide. If they have input and good role models, they will generally make good decisions

  6. I don't believe their frontal lobe(?) is fully developed yet and this inhibits their ability to make complex decisions that involve options that have both good and bad attached to them ...

    Or this is my rationalization.

  7. I visited a church of an old friend in AR. His church has a youth choir with 100 teens who appear to be thrilled to be there.

    What are they doing that is so different?