As a teenager, some of the kids I attended church with weren't exactly the "churchy" type. I didn't always relish church services, but it was apparent to me that these kids would've preferred digging ditches to sitting hunched in their pews each Sunday morning. They seemed indifferent to religion, and some of them lived the teen party lifestyle - drinking, smoking, and even getting into trouble with the law.

Imagine my surprise when 20 years later I visited my hometown and attended church. I found that the kids I'd pegged to leave church in the dust were regular, active churchgoers, attending with their own children.

Even when our teens are cajoled, bribed or dragged by the necktie, taking them to church instills a habit that they often, surprisingly, carry with them into adulthood.

If we pledge to make it a part of our family's routine, attending church can do much good for our teenagers.

Church attendance instills a set of values and standards

Learning why it's important to keep our bodies morally clean, why we should follow God's example of love and service and how to avoid temptations are some things that churches teach young people. Having a moral guidebook provides clarity and direction, especially when our kids' friends or peers try to engage them in inappropriate behaviors.

Worship provides an anchor

Naturally, most teens' minds are on clothes, electronics, social media, popularity and the opposite sex. This is perfectly normal. However, when they have religious beliefs, they're more grounded to the things in life that really matter. The superficial, material aspects of life are balanced by the meaningful and eternal. Kids learn how to deal with all the worldly stuff and keep it in perspective.

Teens' social lives can be improved

When your kids attend church and church activities with other, like-minded youth, their circle of peer influence spreads. They have opportunities to befriend and associate with other kids of your faith who have similar beliefs and standards. Having a strong group of friends makes all the difference as they navigate high school and the teen years.

Your church may have service opportunities

When fellow church members need a helping hand, your teens can learn the principle of service. Or, maybe your church's youth group plans regular service projects. Any chance to serve the less fortunate or help the community will bless your teen's life. Helping others makes one less selfish, and increases the desire to help even more.

Your family will be strengthened

As you make church attendance a regular part of your family's lifestyle, you'll grow closer and stronger. Your worship of God will create a feeling of love and peace within your family and at home.

In many cases, teens will choose their friends, sleep, sporting events or anything over attending church. It can be tricky, but if you start the habit when they're young and not provide the option to stay home, your teens will likely fall in line. Church will become the routine, and they'll hopefully carry the practice into adulthood.

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