Last night during our church service my husband reminded me of something I had declared years ago. Back when our children were younger the teens in our church sat in a particular section of the sanctuary. There were times that because they were unsupervised they got a little out of hand, particularly with the talking and I could recall a couple of incidences where our pastor actually stopped preaching and scolded the teens.
Back then I had declared that when our children became teenagers they would never be allowed to sit with their friends. They would have to sit with us.
So last night we were enjoying a wonderful message being preached by our youth pastor. His message was about craving God and craving His Word. It was one of those messages where you think everyone would have to be impacted by it.
At the end of the message we stood up for praise and worship. I looked across the sanctuary to see my two oldest children who were sitting with their friends. Both of them were not only still sitting down during praise and worship but they were chatting with their friends. I poked my husband in the ribs and pointed to them. It was later on when he would remind me of what I had said when they were younger, that they would never be allowed to sit with their friends.
My initial thought was to stop allowing them to sit with their friends for our Sunday evening service. Yet a reality hit me. Whether they sat with us or their friends, it wouldn’t change their hearts. A relationship with God begins in the heart and if their hearts are closed off to hear something from Him, where they sit really won’t make a difference.
It only showed me that I need to step up my prayers for my teenagers. They have this pull between the world, which includes their friends, and allowing themselves to really hear the Lord’s message. But where they are physically stationed isn’t what matters. It is where they are spiritually stationed.
Our teens are in a real battle. Most of them don’t even recognize that. So it is up to us parents to stand in the gap until they are at that point where they know to do the fighting themselves.
Meanwhile don’t give up on your prayers for your teens. We are raising them in an age where the pull of the world and all of its distractions are very strong. Yet we are not alone. We have One who not only created our children but cares for them more than we ever could. Stand in the gap for your teens.
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I’m a Christian young adult and I’ve been mildly disturbed by the undertones of this article. Nowhere in the bible does it say we must sit when the preacher says sit and stand when the preacher says stand. Who’s to say your “heathen” children weren’t chatting about the way God is moving in their lives? Or perhaps contemplating the meaning of the message? Why is it so offensive to see people conversing in a church service – isn’t church, ideally, a fellowship of believers? Without discussion, where is the fellowship? Or is it simply the fact that they’re teenagers that make it irreverent? Don’t get me wrong, I love what you say about praying for your teens. We all certainly need it. But please don’t write us off because of our age. Our culture has despairingly low expectations for young people, and I would argue that many well-meaning church people just feed that flame of low expectations. When expectations are low, teens feel they have nothing to strive for. When I was an early teen, I was greatly distressed by the pressures I felt from adults caused by their low expectations of teens, and therefore of me. Perhaps action must accompany our heartfelt prayers. Action that will encourage teens that we can be more than our culture tells them us be.
I’m sorry for the undertones you believe is coming across my message. It wasn’t about standing or sitting. It was about respect and not laughing and talking during moments in a church service that are not appropriate. My children are by far not heathens and I don’t think that in any way I came across saying they were. These were not “some” teens I was observing. They were my own children who I know and believe me, a mother knows if her children are chatting about the way God is moving. I am very close to my children and we had a discussion afterward in which they opened up to me about some things. So you only got a glimpse of what happened and definitely misinterpreted what I was trying to say. If you knew me and my relationship with my children, you wouldn’t make the assumption that I was coming down on my children. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even say a word to my children. I take all of my concerns for them to God. Instead, I make myself available to my children so that they always feel safe and secure sharing with me.
A worship service is just that. It is not a time for fellowship. There are plenty of opportunities at most churches for fellowship time outside of worship time. A worship service is about respecting God and not our social needs. People (and it has nothing to do with what age you are)carrying on conversations during a worship service, aside from a comment here or there, are not worshipping. It does bother me to see that for two reasons. It shows that the short time we have, once a week (for most people), to join together and worship God is not a priority to some. That saddens me. One to two hours to give to God in worship is such a small time out of the 168 hours a week he gives us. Second, I also feel it shows a lack of respect for the other worshippers. People conversing during worship is distracting. I agree that it is a matter of respect, for God and for others. hzl22755, it seems to me a contradiction that you do not want adults to expect teenagers to respect God and others during worship, yet you feel adults do not have high enough expectations of teenagers. Healthy Christian fellowship is crucial for teenagers, no doubt. At the same time, worshipping God respectfully is also crucial for teenagers.