Customer Reviews: Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids
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on November 29, 2011
For those who care about the faith of the next generation, the book Sticky Faith is a must read. Youth experts Kara Powell and Chap Clark record the findings of the "College Transition Project," which is a six-year research study of over 500 graduating seniors. Here is their stated goal: "To better understand the dynamics of youth group graduates' transition to college, and to pinpoint the steps that leaders, churches, parents, and seniors themselves can take to help students stay on the Sticky Faith path" (18).

According to their research, between 40 and 50 percent of kids who graduate from a church or youth group will fail to stick with their faith in college. Only 20 percent of those who left the faith planned to. That means 80 percent of those who abandoned the faith were planning to stick with it. On the positive side, they estimate that between 30 and 60 percent return in their late twenties. But this still means between 40 and 70 percent of students who leave their faith never return.

Powell and Clark make a few initial points I found particularly helpful. First, parents influence the faith of students more than anyone (or anything) else: "More than even your support, its who you are that shapes your kid" (21). My research and experience as a teacher confirms that this is true. Second, there is no sticky faith bullet. There is no single reason why kids leave and no single reason that will make them stay. Young people are complex and their faith is influenced by a host of factors.

The core of building a sticky faith, say Powell and Clark, is helping kids develop a clear and honest understanding of the gospel and biblical faith. Sadly, most Christian kids understand the gospel in terms of what we do. We do go to church, read our Bibles, and pray, and we do not watch the wrong movies, cuss, be sexually active, drink, or talk back. Yet this misses the core of biblical faith, which involves trusting God (John 6:28-29). Whether they are doing homework assignments, serving the poor, choosing a college, or responding to a bully, our role with the next generation is to help them genuinely trust God in all they do. Instead of giving simple answers when problems arise, we ought to ask the simple question, "How can we trust God in this situation?"

One of the most powerful parts of Sticky Faith was the emphasis on having conversations with students about faith (not lectures!) Sadly, only 12 percent of mothers and five percent of fathers have regular conversations with their kids about faith. Creating space for genuine conversations about God and faith is one of the most helpful steps we can take to help students build a lasting faith. As a teacher, I give my students assignments that require they engage with their parents about important theological issues. The more we talk with our students about faith, and the more we foster conversation with other significant adults, the better chance they will have of sticking with it.

Here are a few of the practical things Powell and Clark found in their research about Sticky Faith:

§ Kids who left the faith report having questions about faith in early adolescence that were ignored by significant adults (parents, pastor, teacher).

§ A factor causing kids to shelve their faith is the segregation of kids and adults in church. Kids who attend church-wide services are more likely to keep their faith.

§ The more kids serve and build relationships with younger children the more likely they are to hang on to their faith.

§ Short-term mission trips seem to have little impact on the lasting faith of young people (they are not more likely to give to the poor or become long-term missionaries).

§ The more students feel prepared for college the more likely their faith is to grow.

Sticky Faith is a powerful book. That's why I recommend picking up a copy, studying it, and applying it to your own kids or the kids you work with. There is just one key point I wish they had included--the importance of apologetics in preparing this generation. By apologetics I don't mean arguing about faith. Apologetics is also not about providing pat answers for complex issues. It involves the biblical command to respectfully give reasons for what we believe (e.g., 1 Peter 3:15). As David Kinnaman points out in UnChristian, one of the reasons we are losing a generation is that we are not teaching them how to think. I have seen apologetics help many students develop a sticky faith beyond youth group. And I have seen many kids without apologetics training lose their faith.

As I was writing this review on a plane to Denver, a young man next to me sparked up a conversation. He proceeded to share how he grew up going to a Baptist church in Ireland. He left his faith when his college anthropology professor tore into Christianity. He felt stupid believing in the biblical God and so walked away. What brought him back five years later? Someone gave him a DVD of a Christian apologist who laid out the scientific evidence for God. I hear this type of story over and over again. Apologetics is critical for helping students build a sticky faith.

According to Powell and Clark, the doubts young people have generally involve four questions. Two of these key questions are: "Does God exist? " and "Is Christianity true or the only way to God?" These are apologetic-oriented questions that we must help students work through. I agree wholeheartedly with Powell and Clark that we need to create safety zones for kids to doubt. And let's make sure we view their doubts as an opportunity to lovingly and patiently guide them to the truth.
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VINE VOICEon October 26, 2011
Sticky Faith
By Kara E. Powell and Dr. Chap Clark
ISBN 978-0-310-32932-9
Zondervan Publishing
Reviewed by Clint Walker

Drop into many churches in the United States and you will hear parents and grandparents making the same complaint. The church will be full of older folks, with a few middle-aged people sprinkled in. In most of these churches you will hear how the church was once full of children, but now there are hardly any young adults or children present. They will go on to say that some of their children live nearby, and yet they cannot get them to join them in their church involvement. "What are we to do?" they ask, "How could have things been different?"

Into this world of concern about young people retaining their faith come the Fuller Youth Institute, and its leaders Kara Powell and Chap Clark. Combining keen insight with painstaking research, Powell and Clark believed they have uncovered some thoughtful ways parents can raise their kids so that their faith "sticks" even after they leave home. Their learning is compiled in the book Sticky Faith. Much of what they have to share is very helpful, and parents would be wise to heed it.

Over and over again, children and teenagers cite their parents as their primary role models and their heroes. Thus, Sticky Faith directly challenges parents to be very intentional in their child's spiritual development, and addresses them as the primary influencers that they are.

The book challenges parents to be involved in their children's lives on a number of fronts. First, it encourages parents to live their faith transparently before their children, and to invite their children into a family that functions as a community of faith. Sticky Faith gives parents helpful hints about how to have spiritual conversations with their teenage children. The book exhorts parents to develop larger, intentional networks of caring adults to support themselves and their children as they work to lead their children to Jesus. Through the whole book, Sticky Faith argues in a number of different ways that meaningful intergenerational relationships are essential to a child's longevity in the church and overall spiritual vitality.

I enjoy the way the book is set up. Sticky Faith helps parents know more about what their child is going through, and that it is normal. It helps parents with specific practices they can have as parents to be stronger in leading their children into an authentic life of faith that lasts through college and beyond. It is a book that is less driven by guilt than by faith. The authors even occasionally point out times where they have struggled to implement the principles that they describe. Their humility encourages me, and makes me want to hear more from them.

Occasionally I was amused with the discussion of larger churches, and their inability to integrate young adults into "big church". I serve in a small church, and there are several facets of "sticky faith" that we practice just by virtue of being small. At times, some of the things that Chap and Kara shared seemed to be obvious. But if they felt the need to say what they said, maybe the ability to relate to teens and children in a meaningful way is rarer than I expected.

Based on both Kara and Chap's research studies, Sticky Faith is a gem of a book that should be in the hands of both pastors and youth workers across the country. This book is full of the cutting edge information about the spiritual lives of teens can endure into adulthood. And, although some of the discoveries may not be all that earthshattering, Sticky Faith is, at the very least, full of helpful reminders on how to love our children well, and hints on how to guide them best to Jesus.
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on October 5, 2011
Sticky Faith is the best book I have read in guiding parents on how to instill the Christian faith into your child's life. Backed up by new research and interaction with Scripture, Powell and Clark cover a variety of things that contribute to developing a life long relationship with Christ. Rather than simply looking at the problems facing our kids today and panicking, they give many creative ways and ideas for parents of children of all ages. They do so without oversimplifying the process of faith development, but instead affirm that it is often a winding and bumpy path kids and teens will walk on their path to spiritual maturity.
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on October 4, 2011
This is a must read for parents of teenagers or pre-teens! Parenting can be a challenging and discouraging task, but a crucial one. Sticky Faith gives research-based ideas, tools, and encouragement for parents to engage all the more during their child's teenage years. It will stimulate growth and health in your family. To say I believe in this book and the authors is an understatement!
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on June 13, 2012
The Sticky Faith movement is genuinely changing the face of ministry to young people. The church world has been wrestling with the reality that young people are leaving the church and faith at an alarming rate. Sticky Faith is addressing the issue with solid research and practical suggestions.

The DVD curriculum is a fantastic way to take Sticky Faith to another level. As a pastor and parent, I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the curriculum with other parents. The videos are great and invite thoughtful discussion. Our group of parents was diverse and the age of our children broad, yet each one of us got something out of it. In fact, the problem was trying to stop discussion!

I'd highly recommend the DVD curriculum for parents with children of any age & stage. It's fantastic information, it's practical and it's completely relevant to all parents!
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on May 3, 2015
A very culturally molded book about how to ensure kids don't lose faith. The author while trying to make a noble attempt at providing the secret sauce of ensuring your kids keep the faith misses almost completely what really works. The author only knocks on the front door of what works. The author is affiliated with fuller theological seminary which abandon the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy and it really shows in this culturally friendly book. If you want a good book that covers the same topic in a more thorough and biblical way, get Vodie Baucom's "Family driven Faith". After that get "weed in the church" by Scott brown and watch the movie online free called "divided". These resources give you the biblically thorough steps to promoting faith in the family.
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on May 19, 2012
AMAZING BOOK! ALL parents of teens would benefit from this very informative book! It gives direction and pinpoints
what to do to help you child "Stay in the Faith". You will be Blessed by this information and maybe even shocked by the statistics. Be on guard and use this book as a tool to keep your children from falling away from their beliefs.
A MUST READ if you care about the future of your children!
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on October 6, 2013
We used this for an adult Sunday school class. The format is excellent: 20 minutes of DVD then 4-5 discussion questions at the end, it was perfect for a 1 hour class. The adults also were glad not to have "homework" to have done prior to class. We found the material to be interesting and relevant with plenty of ideas for practical application. We met 5 weeks in a row to do each of the 5 lessons then on the 6th week we met one more time to bring ideas to the table for what our church can do to make positive changes based on what we learned.
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on February 3, 2012
What is sticky faith? It is a faith that is internal, as well as reflected in one's actions. It is personal and expressed in relationship with others. It is mature, yet always growing. All Christian parents desire for their children to have this kind of faith....but we often wonder what we can do to transfer our faith to them in a way that sticks. This book has done extensive research to help parents and youth leaders find the answers. While the authors admit that there is no easy formula to follow, there are many factors that make the development of a sticky faith more likely. This book shares those findings, ideas for practical application, and discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

I found this book to be very that I will probably re-visit every five years or so to get fresh ideas as my boys grow older. Right now (at ages 4, 6, & 8) I recognize the need for my husband and I to model and talk about our faith with our boys, also including them in serving others. The book talks about the need to surround children with a web of healthy adult relationships who will encourage and care about them. There are also many helpful suggestions for the later teenage years and to help with the transition to college. While I feel a long way off from that phase, I can remember my own college experience, and the advice provided seems to be right on target. The authors "top suggestion is this: trust the Lord with your kids and continue to ask - maybe at times beg - the Lord to build in them a sticky faith." There are certainly things we as parents can do, but ultimately we need to trust them into His hands.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review.
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on December 28, 2011
I consumed this book in a day; underlining phases and paragraphs on nearly every page. I loved the fact that this book is backed by what appears to be great data - it blends the experiences of the authors (well trained in their own right and leaders of Fuller Youth Institute)as well as a variety of research results on the lives of teenagers. It is a roadmap to help parents and ministry leaders understand how to help our kids move from childhood faith to a faith that is uniquely theirs. The tools provided to help these kids navigate their high school years and transition to college is exactly what I was looking for, and then some. This is a book that will be well worn by the time I've journeyed with my son through college. I highly recommend this resource and the [...] web site.
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