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    Thinking of Leaving Your Church? Then You Need to Read This!

    Every Sunday morning it’s the same old thing. You drag yourself out of bed, try to figure out something cute and appropriate to put on, and head out the door for church. That’s when a little voice whispers in your ear, “Is this really worth it?” or “It’s my only day to sleep in.” Or maybe you hear, “When I turn 18, maybe I’ll take a break from church for a while. After all, I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian, right?”

    A recent study by the Barna research group showed that 59% of young Christians will permanently leave the church or stay away for an extended period of time after the age of 15. If you give in to the voice that wants you to sleep in or quit making church a priority, you’ll be added to that number—and that’s not good for your faith or for the rest of us who need you to be part of us. Here are 5 bad reasons to leave your church:

    1. You think you don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. While that is technically true, it’s not a good enough reason to leave your place of worship. Being a Christian in this culture is tough, and church offers you the opportunity for fellowship, instruction in the faith, prayer and worship. If you were a car, going to church would be like getting a full tune-up every week absolutely free! To stay close to Christ, you need to learn more about God’s Word, pray, spend time in worship and surround yourself with others who believe in Jesus too. What better one-stop shop than your home church?

    2. You don’t like the music. Okay, so this is a big argument in the church today. Hymns or contemporary music? Organ music or a full band? Rock or rap? Even if the songs your church chooses would never make it on your Spotify or Pandora lists, that’s not a good enough reason to bail. If you are plugged into ministry, learning and growing, and surrounded with faith-filled friends, music should not be the tipping point that sends you running for the door. Ask God to give you a new appreciation for the lyrics of the songs and use the worship time to focus on Him.

    3. You can’t find anybody new to crush on. Now this reason might sound ridiculous, but Christian teens who spend lots of time together at church and youth group events tend to fall in and out of “like.” A lot. Pretty soon, it can seem like you or one of your friends has had a crush at one time or another on every guy in the group. Remember, you’re not at church to find a boyfriend–you’re at church to love on Jesus and to let Him love on you!

    4. You’re not having enough fun. Sure, some churches have video games, big screens and popular bands. And maybe yours doesn’t. Or maybe you know churches who take their teens to a foreign country every summer on missions, and your church only goes to Kentucky. If church has become boring to you, re-evaluate rather than run.

    What is your relationship with Jesus like right now? Have you been drifting away from your walk with Him? Are you reading your Bible, spending time daily in prayer, and making sure you try new ministries, groups and classes? If you’re not growing in your faith, make an appointment with your youth pastor, reverend or priest and ask for ideas to make church exciting. Life with God is an adventure. If your faith is just ho-hum, try spending more time at church, not less.        

    5. You have doubts about your faith. Doubts are natural. Most people have them. You’re almost an adult now, and you need to sort out what you believe for yourself rather than ride the coattails of what you’ve been taught. Times of doubt are the best time to press in and keep going to church. Find members who have believed for decades, and ask your hard questions. Satan loves to get young Christians isolated from others who believe. It’s much easier for him to convince you that you don’t need church or Jesus when there’s no one around you to remind you that you do.

    Next Sunday morning when the alarm goes off, ask God to give you a new enthusiasm for church, to show you fresh ways to connect and to reveal more of Himself to you. You are a precious, important part of the body of Christ. We need you. I love what my friend Mark Hall, a youth pastor and lead singer of Casting Crowns says: “God, help us stop shopping for the church we WANT and start being the church the world NEEDS.”

    Have you ever thought about leaving your church? Did you change your mind? Share your story in the comments below–we love hearing from you!

    Natalie Gillespie
    Natalie Gillespie is the mom, stepmom and adoptive mom of nine kids, as well as a best-selling author, editor, and speaker. She is the co-author of "Into the Light: My Journey from the Glare of Hollywood to the Glow of God's Love" with Nicole Weider.

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