Sticky Faith (Ch. 2): The Sticky Gospel


As I sat down to begin to write this, my youngest son, munching on some dry cereal, was sitting next to me. Suddenly, he reached out and made a small grunting sound as he reached out to me and made the clear body language of "I want to sit with you." To be honest, I had a moment where I thought "This will go faster if I don't pick him up" but then I realized what was occurring was exactly the dynamic I was about to write about. (And what father can turn down a child's generous openness...)

Now, in FULL (somewhat frustrated) DISCLOSURE: Not all is glorious in this as I lost a quarter of this post when he restarted my computer and he giggles every time he presses something, so I am writing off all spelling errors as his in this post.

Faith is...

All this reminded me of this chapter's theme on the gospel and faith. Powell and Clark explore faith describing it as trust in God. As they explored, the Greek word translated for faith is pisteuo, which can be translated in three closely related words: faith, believe or trust. (If you enjoy exploring a bit more in the original language, check this out for more info on pisteuo.)

Thus, one can frame the gospel of Christ in terms of trusting God. This is both an initial event (putting our faith in Christ for salvation) but it is also an ongoing expression of living by the gospel as we grow in Christ's image (known as sanctification).

Faith is Not...

A contrast is what often occurs to us as we seek to disciple people. This is often an overemphasis on behavior and results in the gospel of sin management, a term that Christian teacher and thinker Dallas Willard coined.

The danger is that seeing a disciple acting or doing the right things is attractive to us but that "obeying God" is not the same thing as "trusting God." Trusting God is a gospel-centered response in that it focuses us upon God rather than behavior.

Thus, for the authors, the primary question for how to live a gospel-centered life (a sticky faith) is that in every question, every thought, every action in whom do I place my trust? Do I trust my instincts, my desires, my convictions, or do I trust Christ? (p. 34)

Practical Ideas: Encouraging Trust in God

As an adult in the lives of children and youth (whether they are your kids, grandkids, neice/nephew, cousins or part of your church family), the goal is to encourage a trust in God. As my child expressed trust in sitting in my lap, how do we encourage people to not just use words of trust but to express trust in God in actions?

 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe [or trust, pisteuo] in the one he has sent (John 6:28-29).

With some useful description, they propose three practical engagements to help one form a sticky faith (pp. 39-46):

  • Focus on Trusting God vs. Obeying God
  • Frame Discussions and Activities as Opportunities to Know and Trust Christ
    • To get you started, they give examples with Time, Money, Relationships
  • Respond with Grace When Your Child Misbehaves

Let's Talk

In your own life, how have you seen an adult invest in a way that helped you trust and/or know God rather than just live out a behavior? (Can be parents, a mentor, a family friend, or anyone.)


Help others get ideas by sharing how you have applied one of the 3 areas above intentionally with a child in your life. (It doesn't have to be your child...)


Leave a comment or a question below.

-Pastor Brian

Check out other posts in this series or follow-up on some of the further conversations that happened:

Next week: Chapter 3 "sticky identity".

3 Responses

  1. Pastor Brian
    When one of our children misbehaves, I will occasionally not follow through with the consequence. Instead, we'll discuss mercy (not receiving what we do deserve) and connect that with sin and God's mercy to us in Christ or the call to forgive 70x7. Similarly, when I just give them something not linked to what they've earned, we'll discuss "grace" (giving something you don't deserve) and how God's grace touches our lives in different ways. The kids seem to get more out of what can be two aspects of God that many just see as one.
  2. Reader
    Not in answer to the above questions but a somewhat random comment instead: I was very convicted in reading this chapter about focusing on TRUSTING God rather than obeying God. Definitely something to work on and strive for!
  3. Lindsey
    I don't know how to answer the above questions, so I, too, will just leave some comments. I thought the "Gospel of Sin Management" was a really good description of how I think most Christians and non-Christians view God's Word. For most of my life, before and after becoming a Christian, I found myself believing the same thing. I was glad the author brought this idea to our attention. I also liked what was brought up on the bottom of pg. 34, that every though, decision and action comes down to the question of "In whom do I place my trust? Do I trust my instincts, my desires, my convictions, or do I trust in Christ?" That challenges me to keep those questions in mind for my personal life, and hopefully, in turn, I can become a good model to my children of being able to answer those questions. "Our kids are mirrors of our attitudes and beliefs" (pg.34) stood out to me. I have seen this to be true in my own life and the lives of many others. There are things my kids do or say and when I ask where they got it from, they reply with, "From mom" or "From dad." Most of the time I don't even realize that my husband or I do or say those things. I keep hearing and seeing over and over again that "actions speak louder than words." Brian - I like your examples of showing mercy and grace to your kids.

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