If you start teaching your kids proper church etiquette when they're young, they'll know how to behave in church when they're teens.

How to Teach Church Etiquette to Teenagers

by Shellie Braeuner

Parents often want to make regular worship a habit in their teens lives, but at the same time, don't want their teens taking the worship service for granted and just going through the motions. For this to occur, you should encourage your teens to pay attention to the service while participating in it. Your teens should also demonstrate appropriate church etiquette, which is basically showing respect for God and good manners to others at the service by not distracting them. Teaching your teens proper church etiquette is essential.

Explain to your teens that they need to arrive for the service on time. So plan ahead. Help your teens ensure that they rise early enough to get dressed and groomed in time for the family to leave for the service. Point out that arriving late disturbs other worshipers and distracts from the service.

Help your teens choose the proper clothing for church. While some churches have certain dress codes, such as covering your head during a service, other churches are very lax and allow everything from shorts and T-shirts to flip-flops. If your church has a dress code, see that you teens follow it. If your church is lax when it comes to dressing, explain to your teens the importance of dressing respectfully. This means neat clothing. Dressing for church in the same manner as you would dress for the beach shows a lack of reverence.

Tell your teens that they must turn off their phones and leave other electronic devices at home. Church is not the place to text or surf the net. Also let them know that they should leave gum and snacks at home as well. Teach your teens that when they are is in church, they are there to listen and respond to God through the actions of the priest or minister. They should focus on what is going on in church.

Explain to your teens that as soon as they enter the church, they need to speak in a soft voice and in a respectful, appropriate manner. Most churches have areas, such as a lobby or narthex, where people can greet and talk with friends. Discuss how while it isn’t appropriate to carry on a conversation during the service, they can speak to friends in the areas designed for discussion and socializing. However, make it clear that they should not laugh loudly or curse or swear in these areas as that shows a lack of respect to God and others in the church.

Model good church etiquette for your teens. This means making sure that, as the parent, you set a good example. Get up in time for church. Dress appropriately. Leave your own cell phone off or at home during the church service and pay attention to what's going on. When you set a good example, your teens better understand what you expect of them.


  • If your teens are going to visit a church other than their own, explore the customs of that particular church so that your teens feel comfortable and can focus on the service. For example, if you belong to an Episcopal church and are to attend a Catholic service, you might explain to your teens that Catholics kneel during the service, so the kneeling doesn't distract them.

About the Author

Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

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