Drop into many churches in the United States and you will hear parents and grandparents making the same complaint: the church is full of older folks with a few middle-aged people sprinkled in. In most of these churches, you will hear how the church was once full of children, but now there are hardly any young adults or children present. They will go on to say that some of their children live nearby, and yet they cannot get them to join them in their church involvement. “What are we to do?” they ask. “How could have things have been different?”
Into this world of concern about young people retaining their faith come the Fuller Youth Institute and its leaders Kara Powell and Chap Clark. Combining keen insight with painstaking research, Powell and Clark believed they have uncovered some thoughtful ways parents can raise their kids so that their faith “sticks” even after they leave home. Their learning is compiled in the book Sticky Faith. Much of what they have to share is very helpful, and parents would be wise to heed it.
Over and over again, children and teenagers cite their parents as their primary role models and their heroes. Thus, Sticky Faith directly challenges parents to be very intentional in their child’s spiritual development and addresses them as the primary influencers that they are.
The book challenges parents to be involved in their children’s lives on a number of fronts. First, it encourages parents to live their faith transparently before their children, and to invite their children into a family that functions as a community of faith. Sticky Faith gives parents helpful hints about how to have spiritual conversations with their teenage children. The book exhorts parents to develop larger, intentional networks of caring adults to support them and their children as they work to lead their children to Jesus. Through the whole book, Sticky Faith argues in a number of different ways that meaningful, intergenerational relationships are essential to a child’s longevity in the church and overall spiritual vitality.
I enjoyed the way the book is set up. Sticky Faith helps parents know more about what their child is going through and that it is normal. It helps parents with specific practices they can have as parents to be stronger in leading their children into an authentic life of faith that lasts through college and beyond. It is a book that is less driven by guilt than by faith. The authors even occasionally point out times where they have struggled to implement the principles that they describe. Their humility encourages me and makes me want to hear more from them.
Occasionally I was amused with the discussion of larger churches and their inability to integrate young adults into “big church.” I serve in a small church, and there are several facets of Sticky Faith that we practice just by virtue of being small. At times, some of the things that Clark and Powell share seem to be obvious. But if they feel the need to say it, maybe the ability to relate to teens and children in a meaningful way is rarer than I expected.
Based on both Powell and Clark’s research studies, Sticky Faith is a gem of a book that should be in the hands of both pastors and youth workers across the country. This book is full of the cutting-edge information about teens’ spiritual lives that endure into adulthood. And, although some of the discoveries may not be all that earth shattering, Sticky Faith is, at the very least, full of helpful reminders on how to love our children well with hints on how to guide them best to Jesus. – Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Nearly every Christian parent in America would give anything to find a viable resource for developing within their kids a deep, dynamic faith that "sticks" long term. Sticky Faith delivers. Research shows that almost half of graduating high school seniors struggle deeply with their faith. Recognizing the ramifications of that statistic, the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) conducted the “College Transition Project” in an effort to identify the relationships and best practices that can set young people on a trajectory of lifelong faith and service. Based on FYI findings, this easy-to-read guide presents both a compelling rationale and a powerful strategy to show parents how to actively encourage their children’s spiritual growth so that it will stick to them into adulthood and empower them to develop a living, lasting faith. Written by authors known for the integrity of their research and the intensity of their passion for young people, Sticky Faith is geared to spark a movement that empowers adults to develop robust and long-term faith in kids of all ages.