13 February 2012 ~ 8 Comments

Is sticky even enough?

The world of youth ministry has spent the last ten (maybe 15?) years struggling with the components laid out in this first chapter. We’ve known for many years that that kids often don’t continue to practice faith to the same degree through their college years, and in fact we celebrate when a youth ministry is full of juniors and seniors, note even really setting our sights on college (FWIW I think this college “rebellion” is less dramatic in mainline denominations and I’ve known of many kids growinig in faith through college ministries or congregations.)


We’ve known for a while what Christian Smith says in chapter one.  “when it comes to faith, parents get what they are.” Others have said that “parents are the best youth ministers.” We’ve known this for a while. We also know that retreats and mission trips transform lives of faith. We know that lock ins and messy games cement positive friendships that are so different than what happens in the middle school cafeteria.  The data tells us one thing. Our experience (and job descriptions) tell us the old school is also transformational (but we wonder if our gut if those kids who experience transformation will be practicing faith as adults, or even next month).


So what does a youth ministry look like that lives in this tension?  That’s the questions I continue to struggle with as I work through chapter one.  A couple of big pieces come to mind; we need to address this as culture change and not a new program, parents need opportunities for faith growth on their own, parents need permission to not be perfect, and the youth ministry needs to treat parents as they are- experts on their own kids.


One other though I had as I processed is that I don’t know that sticky is the descriptor I want. Sticky just stays with you. I like the term used by one of my professors Rollie Martinson; vital faith.  A vital faith is active, central to one’s life, and denotes that without it one would cease to be. Sticky is a marketing concept to me and makes me think of remembering rather than transformation.  That being said, the research was focused on college kids and I feel the authors are using sticky with some different connotations.


Here is a link to what Martinson and others have defined as “Mature Christian Faith,” or what I would like to call Vital Faith.

This is perhaps the most comprehensive list I have seen on this topic.
Please take a moment to comment and respond to either what I said or one of the discussion questions in the back of the chapter.  Even if you feel it’s not a wonderful comment, stick something up there so we know you’re reading and participating. If I don’t hear from you by Thursday I’m going to bug you about responding.

Here are the questions from the end of the chapter:

  1. When people decide to read a book, usually they are trying to solve a problem.  What problems are you hoping to address by reading this book?
  2. How would you define Sticky Faith?
  3. How does it make you feel to think that you are the most important influence on your child’s faith?
  4. As you think about how you’ve pre anted thus fa, what have you done that has contributed to your kids’ faith? What do you with you had done differently?
  5. What do you think of the suggestion that parents trust the Lord with their kids and beg to the Lord to build Sticky Faith in them?  Perhaps you’d like to put this book down and pray for a few moments before you even turn the page.

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