Over the next year you will hear a lot about Sticky Faith and you might be wondering what it is all about. Sticky Faith is a term developed for youth ministry. It is based around the question, “What makes faith stick for teens once they leave the church and head off into the adult world?” The Fuller Youth Institute has spent the past decade researching what those things are. They compiled their findings into two books Sticky Faith and Growing Young. The research suggests that there are a few areas that have the greatest impact on the stickiness of faith. First, teens don’t just need financial and personnel resources to grow their faith. That means they don’t just need a large budget and lots of volunteers (even though those things are helpful). What teens really need is to rub shoulders and build relationships with adults. When teens are taught to interact, engage, and grow with adults and have opportunities to practice that, they will know how to find and engage in a church as and an adult. A huge part of that requires adults to go out of their way to engage with the youth in their territory and then invite the youth into the adult territory. This is a process that can take time, but yields a bountiful harvest of lasting faith. Second, it is common for youth leaders, parents, and community members to assume the youth are ready to move into adult life. The truth is that only one in seven seniors in high school really feel ready to move on into the adult world. It is important to start teaching students to, “Make their faith their own.” If they take ownership of their own faith and work at developing it from a young age, it will be easier for them to continue that practice when they are adults. A large part of youth ministry is to develop a personal relationship with Jesus that is encouraged by a church, but not bound to it.
Third, it is easy in the Christian life to focus on the “dos” and “don’ts” of Christianity. However, this leads to a pass/fail pressure which can undermine the grace of Jesus Christ. It is absolutely true that Jesus is the only way to the father (John 14:6). However, being afraid to fail is a tool of the devil. The beauty of the Gospel is that, “while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8), and that is still true after we have invited Him into our lives. He knows we will fail, over and over again, yet He still loves us. By going beyond the “dos” and “don’ts” of Christianity, we can foster a deep and true relationship with the Father that is based solely on faith, hope, grace, and love.
I invite you all to be part of the Sticky Faith process. Pray for the teens, engage with them, love on them, teach them, be broken with them, share hope with them. I am excited for all the children and youth here at MPC, and am so glad that MPC does indeed see children and youth as a priority. I am enjoying the journey we are all on at growing closer to Christ and developing Sticky Faith. If you want to learn more you can go to https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/stickyfaith or ask me for a copy of Sticky Faith.