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One of the most frequently asked questions we have received after the release of our new book on parenting teens is, “Should we require our teenaged son or daughter to go to church with us when they do not want to go?” It’s a great question and believe it or not, we know what that is like… Fighting to get them up, fighting to get them dressed appropriately, fighting to get them to listen, and the constant debate over why it’s important. It is not uncommon for parents of even Christian teenagers to face a season sort of like this. What should you do? Should you require it?


We think it is critical for every family to practice what we call “Sabbath principles.” The idea is that because God requires us in the Scripture to set aside a day as different from all the other days of the week to honor Him and to rest, we want to put these principles into practice. Since we are Christians, we worship on the first day of the week to remember the resurrection of Jesus. Sunday is also the day that we incorporate Sabbath principles. What are these principles? In short they are as follows:

  • Gather with other believers and worship God through prayer, singing, and the reading of His Word
  • Participate in a small group for Bible Study and connection (everyone needs a tribe)
  • Enjoy time with family and friends for rest and play

We decided, no matter how difficult, the principles of the Sabbath would be a boundary for every person in our family, especially teens whose hearts are running away from God.

Was it hard? Yes, some Sundays it was exasperating but we didn’t cave. The outcome is beautiful and the fruit is amazing. Our teen that once hated church is now deeply involved in its mission. Set a Sabbath boundary. You will be glad you did.

Just as an aside, if Sabbath principles seem completely foreign to you, consider clearing your Sundays for worship, community, family, rest and play. God wired us for just such a rhythm. When we honor Him we find a better way.

One other note. In those difficult seasons, we did not require our teen to do everything the church had to offer nor do we require it when they are walking with God. For us Sabbath principles on Sunday is the boundary. Everything else is opportunity.

For more information on parenting your teenager, check out our new book “Relentless Parenting: The Crucial Pursuit of Your Teen’s Heart.

Brian Haynes
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