What if my kid doesn’t want to go to church?

3 April 2023

'I don't want to go to church!' may trigger all sorts of fear in us. But it's actually a wonderful opportunity to talk to your kid about church and coach them in learning what church really is and how to engage with it well that will set them up for life.

When church is so important to you, what do you do if your child doesn’t want to go?

In an episode of the Parenting for Faith podcast, we asked Rachel Turner, founder of Parenting for Faith, what she would say to parents or carers facing that question.


You can skip straight to her wisdom, but here is a short summary of her key points.

Having conversations about church will not only enable you to hear what is going on for your child, it’s also great training to help them learn how to think about church and how to make decisions about church when they have left home.

Rachel discusses the following topics:

  • When your child or teen just doesn’t want to go to church
  • When church clashes with other activities
  • When they would like to be part of another church
  • When you are struggling with your church

When your child or teen just doesn’t want to go to church

A child or teen not wanting to go to church is actually an indication that something is going on. It might be about them, God, friends, boredom … but until you know what that is, it’s hard to make a good parenting decision about what to do.

When church clashes with other activities

All sorts of things may clash with the Sunday service, some of which you might value and which you’d like your child to be a part, or about which they feel strongly. It can be helpful to see this as a values based decision, rather than as a scheduling decision.

  • Decide what it is about church that is so valuable for you. These things will not all happen exclusively at the Sunday service.
  • If your child or teen will miss Sundays, figure out how they can access those things that are important and so still be part of and experiencing church.

Here are the five values of church that Parenting for Faith teaches.

When my kid wants to go to a different church

  • This is a great opportunity for a conversation about your church. Why are we here? What’s working or not working? What is it about church that we want?
  • Think about whether for your family everyone attending the same church is important.
  • You can help children and teens learn how to evaluate churches for themselves through conversations and visiting different churches – important preparation for when they leave home themselves.

When I’m struggling with church

We will all have times when we struggle with our church. It might be a temporary blip; it might be something about me and my circumstances; it might be about change.

  • Know that how you speak about church and the people in church will inform your kids’ views of that church and of church in general. You don’t want them to mistakenly hear ‘this church is unsafe’ or ‘people in church are untrustworthy’. This doesn’t mean not talking about it, but be careful to frame what you say well.
  • This is a great opportunity to help your kids learn what to do when they discover they are struggling with church in the future.

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