I have just finished reading Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids for the second time. Looking back, I was surprised that I hadn’t reviewed it here on my blog previously (though I have referenced it several times), so I thought I would quickly do so today. Quite simply, Sticky Faith is an outstanding book, and it’s one that I think all parents should read. I’m actually co-teaching a class on it right now at church, and along with 2-3 other sources, it forms the core of my youth ministry library.
Sticky Faith is written for parents (though there are other versions for youth workers and students), and is all about helping you to instill a lasting faith (or a faith that “sticks”, hence the title) in your children. And I’m sure there are a lot of books like that, but what I really like about Sticky Faith is that (1) it is based on extensive research, and (2) it offers incredibly practical suggestions of tangible things you can do to help faith development in your kids.
Like any book, there are some ideas and suggestions in Sticky Faith that I disagree with, and I’m sure it will be that way for you too. But that doesn’t change the fact that, overall, it is an incredibly helpful resource for Christian parents.
Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book [my comments are added in brackets]:
“…Our conclusion is that 40 to 50 percent of kids who graduate from a church of youth group will fail to stick with their faith in college…only 20 percent of college students who leave the faith planned to do so during high school. The remaining 80 percent intended to stick with their faith but didn’t.” (pp. 15-16) [There are a lot of other alarming statistics which they gather from their research. These helpful numbers describe a big problem, which the rest of the book then sets about trying to address.]
“How you express and live out your faith may have a greater impact on your son or daughter than anything else.” (p. 25)
“…A performance-based Christianity can last only so long.” (p. 36)
“The greatest gift you can give your children is to let them see you struggle and wrestle with how to live a lifetime of trust in God.” (p. 46)
“If I had to choose between living out my faith or talking about my faith in front of my kids, I’d choose the former every time. But I don’t have to choose. And neither do you. We can do both.” (p.70)
“The closest our research has come to that definitive silver bullet is this sticky finding: for high school and college students, there is a relationship between attendance at church-wide worship services and Sticky Faith.” (p. 97) [Parents, this should make you think twice before missing church for a hunting trip, or a baseball tournament, or some other family outing. It matters. Youth ministers, this should make us think twice before frequently removing our youth groups from our congregational worship gatherings. A big part of being the Body of Christ is being present with the Body of Christ.]
“Over and over, students have told us that the first two weeks at college are when they make key decisions about drinking and other high-risk behaviors, right along with choosing whether to go to church or to a campus ministry.” (p. 151)
“It’s okay to go through periods of doubt and distrust and disillusionment. It’s okay to go through periods of questioning and confusion. Don’t run away from them. At the same time, don’t go off the deep end. Do the intellectual and spiritual soul searching within the context of a secure community of people who truly love you.” (p. 172) [This quote actually came from a student who was part of the research study—a lot of wisdom here!]
“But [kids] soon come to know that faith is ultimately meaningless unless they choose it for themselves.” (p. 179) [Yes. We must own our faith, rather than simply inherit the faith of our parents.]
“Especially during their lowest times, your kids need to know that, above all else, you are there for them, regardless of what they are going through.” (p. 180)
“If your family has served Christ through much of your child’s life, the seeds you have planted are potent and real.” (p. 187)
I could go on and on—large sections of my copy of Sticky Faith are highlighted or underlined—but these quotations should give you an idea of what the book is like. In short, I would recommend it to any Christian parent, or anyone who works closely with teens.