What Does it Take for Faith to Stick?

Youth Specialties
September 14th, 2011

You work so hard to plan events, lessons, experiences, studies, and interactions that will help teenagers learn who Jesus is, and what it means to follow him. And a lot of the time, your efforts actually connect with your students, and you find kids who are excited about living out their faith. But studies show that up to 50 percent of students who graduate from youth ministries drift from God and the church after graduation. The team at Fuller Youth Institute saw the research, and experienced that statistic in their own youth ministry contexts, so they went to work to find out what it takes to help teens embrace a faith that really sticks—especially after they leave the youth room.

Kara Powell, executive director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and co-author of the Sticky Faith series, explains that students have embraced what Dallas Willard calls the “gospel of sin management.” Powell says, “It’s a gospel that’s all about behaviors (what kids do and don’t do) and it’s grounded in a sense of guilt instead of grace. And let’s be honest: guilt is rarely a good long-term motivator.”

But what exactly is the “Sticky Gospel?” Brad Griffin, co-author of the youth worker edition, defines it as “one that clearly states that it’s by grace we are saved, and not works. Our obedience then becomes a natural overflow of the reality of God’s transforming grace changing us from the inside out.”

The Sticky Faith resources will include a book for youth workers (co-authored by Brad Griffin and Cheryl Crawford), one for parents (co-authored by Chap Clark), and a curriculum to use with teens. Part of the rationale behind a youth leader and a parent book is the fact that both youth leaders and parents play a significant role in the faith journey of teens. “Our goal is to give students, leaders, parents, and churches the tools they need to launch kids on a lifelong trajectory of faith and service.” The authors point out that one of the most important research findings that has come out of FYI’s studies shows that “students who are involved in intergenerational worship and relationships experience stickier faith, both in high school and college. One of our top tips for youth leaders is to look for ongoing ways to help kids and adults experience the church as God intends—in all of its diversity.”

Visit the YS store to see the complete family of Sticky Faith Resources.

Youth Specialties

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.