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I’ve not been in youth ministry a long time, but already I’ve ran into the puzzling question raised in the first chapter of Sticky Faith. Why is it that for some students their faith is real and continues into college and then adulthood, and why do others seem to be less sticky? This is a puzzler that causes me to puzzle and puzzle and puzzle until my puzzler is sore.
Why is it that Bobby and Britney both come from great Christian families and are involve in the church, but Bobby over time begins to dissent from the community of faith and life and Britney stays committed?
Blame has been thrown onto youth ministers, parents, teachers, coaches, peers, etc., but spreading blame as if it is weed killer in the yard offers no step forward. In the midst of all of the questioning are young people who are being abandoned as we search for a cure.
What I love about Sticky Faith is that they don’t offer or even suggest that there is a silver bullet. If we are in search for an ultimate cure we place young people in the space of being accompanied by a societal problem. And too often they then are regarded as the problem. Thus, the “systematic abandonment” (Chap Clarks analysis in his book Hurt) of adolescents grows deeper.
Rather, the approach Powell and Clark take is a proactive one that offers ideas and perspective on ways to instill sticky faith in adolescents. An idea that finds it’s roots the adult-young person relationship. To grab a quote from the first chapter:
“…our research shows a relationship between this parental support and Sticky Faith. But parental support, while important, is not the only way you influence your child. More than even your support, it’s who you are that shapes your kid.”
So I offer parents this question: What have you been doing that goes beyond support and instills deeper roots in what it is to be a follower of Jesus?