When you travel, it is good to be aware of the terrain. Weather conditions, approaching weather systems, terrain (hills, valleys, mountains, road/path conditions (grassy or paved paths) all are useful to know. And, if you have a family, bathroom stops are critical.
In this chapter, the authors sketch out modern patterns of young people and faith to help us get an idea of where we are going in current culture as well as where they are coming from.
40-50% of kids who graduate from a church or youth group will fail to stick with their faith in college.
It would be nice if we could dismiss that as someone's poor conjecture, cynical statement, or ignorant comment. But, as you'll read if you followed the footnote, this is based on a summary of various research results.
Add the story of Tiffany and it will probably (should?) move the heart of any Christian who has God's heart for the young.
Add some of the other statistics:
- only 20% of college students who leave the faith planned to do so during high school
- the other 80% intended to stick with their faith but didn't
- 30-60% of those who leave do return
That last stat is small comfort given God's heart that will leave the 99 to go after the one lost sheep. (Or the lost coin or the lost son. Three parables from Jesus to speak about God's heart, all in Luke 15.)
Defining "Sticky Faith"
As we saw, there are a few things about Powell and Clark's definition of Sticky Faith:
- It's both internal and external. Inner thoughts and emotions as well as choices and actions are impacted. It's a "whole-person integration" (p. 22). (I can't help but think of how that term is a good description of a life transformed by Christ.)
- It's both personal and communal. There are individual aspects while also being called to be part of a community in Christ, the Church. (Romans 12/1 Cor. 12 comes to mind with Paul's body illustration: we are parts but also a whole body.)
- It's both mature and maturing. There is the element of completeness but also the ongoing aspect of growth. (The image of how God's kingdom is "already but not yet fully come" echoes here. At FirstCov, we talk about the aspect that we are on a "journey.")
And the Winner Is...
One of the more uplifting results is that when youth were invited to comment about quality and quantity of support from five groups (friends in youth group, friends outside youth group, youth leaders, parents, and adults in the congregation), PARENTS came out on top.
But they also found that support was not all... how they lived out their faith had the greatest impact on a son or daughter.
Two Aspects to Each Chapter
You'll want to note that each chapter will have:
- research info and findings
- practical issues of applying it.
Never Too Early/Never Too Late
The good news is faith is a journey that goes throughout life and no matter what time of life, NOW is the time to pray and act. God works in all moments. So, whatever the age and whatever the relationship (child/grandchild, niece/nephew, or a youth in the church family), now is the time to begin. As Jesus noted: nothing is impossible with God.
Share what you learn with others. Form a Sticky Faith Team for your family. As a church family at FirstCov, that is our goal in this book read but there may be other significant adults to invite along, whether for you to discuss or process with, and have join us on the blog or encourage to read the book with you. It may be grandparents, godparents/sponsors, or others.
The Authors and Faith
It was good to hear of the authors' faith in this as well. Research can (& has) become an idol in such situations and their reflections (p. 28) were helpful in how love of God over research, belief in God over belief in research, and valuing prayer over sorting data are good reminders. As they noted:
As we share our research with parents, including parents who are grieving the way their children have strayed from the Sticky Faith path, we are repeatedly reminded of the God who transcends all research and all easy answers. We are struck by how much we need to depend on God for wisdom and strength for ourselves, and sometimes just plain miracles for our families. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit, not us, develops Sticky Faith in kids (p. 28).
We have the opportunity to "talk" now. Below you can leave a comment (using your full name, a first name or even an anonymous reference for your name). Share a question you have, a thought you'd like to share or reply to someone else.
There are some excellent questions on p. 29 to discuss with a spouse, friend, your "Sticky Faith Team" or someone from your church family. Feel free to comment on any of them.
If you are not reading the book, let's start with:
- When people read a book, usually they are trying to solve a problem. What problems are you hoping to address by reading this blog?
- How have you seen the themes above play out in your everyday observations of life?
Next week: Chapter 2--the sticky gospel.