What is ‘Sticky Faith’ and why does it matter?

August 30, 2021

God designed parents to be the primary disciple-makers of their children.

George Barna’s research has found that the greatest influence on the beliefs and practices of teenagers is parents. In his book “Real Teens,” Barna writes, “Half (of teens) said that their parents have the greatest influence on their spiritual development, identified three times as often as the next most prolific source of faith influence.”

Sadly, only 4% of Generation Z — generally considered those who were born after 1996 — have a biblical worldview. A biblical worldview is grounded in biblical teaching, but you can’t align your life to the truth of the Bible if you don’t know what it says. That’s why everything begins and ends with the study of God as revealed in Scripture. Our worldview shapes our values, which in turn influences our behavior.

When it comes to raising kids with a secure faith, the single most decisive influence is the parents. Parents need to understand and grasp their role as primary disciple-makers. As ministry leaders, we can help build what Kara Powell calls “sticky faith.”

When it comes to raising kids with a secure faith, the single most decisive influence is the parents.

In her book, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Powell defines “sticky faith” as “a powerful strategy to show parents and ministry leaders how to actively encourage their young people’s spiritual growth so that it will stick with them into adulthood and empower them to develop a lasting faith. It is part of a student’s inner thoughts and emotions and is also externalized in choices and actions that reflect this faith commitment.”

As elementary students get older, their adolescent brain transitions developmentally to more abstract thinking and allows for deeper thought. For some, doubts arise. How doubts are handled can have a potent effect on faith. Students accustomed to having a safe place to openly express and wrestle with their doubts tended to have a more mature faith. Conversely, doubts kept secret and never addressed tended to erode a student’s faith.

To help break old habits of lecturing and spoon-feeding answers, instead ignite conversation. Powell has suggested responding to tough questions with, “I don’t know, but…” and then extending an invitation to learn together, or by saying, “I don’t know, but here’s what I do know about God…” and then sharing what the Bible says.

In addition to the influence of parents, the “Sticky Faith” study found that students’ participation in corporate worship with the entire congregation during high school was consistently linked with developing a mature faith in both high school and college.

Churches and families wanting to instill deep faith in youth should help them build a web of relationships with committed and caring adults at church, some of whom may serve as intentional mentors.

by Merrie Johnson  
/  Youth Evangelism and Discipleship  /  Baptist State Convention of North Carolina

Baptist Children’s Homes breaks ground for three new foster care homes

Almost 300 staff members and trustees of the Baptist Children’s Homes of North Carolina (BCH), Cleveland County dignitaries, supporters and friends came together on Sept. 11 for the groundbreaking of three new homes near Shelby, N.C. River Hill Refuge, as it will be known, will...

10 principles for leading in church revitalization

Many churches in our world today are in deep need of revitalization. In order to lead your church in revitalization, there are some basic principles you must follow. Here are 10 principles for a revitalizer: Be humble. You must swallow your pride, humble yourself and love even...

What you can do when your church is in decline

Facing reality in churches can be tough. When a faithful, dedicated church member of many years sees the church losing ground as the neighborhood around the congregation changes, painful feelings emerge and uncertainty abounds. This feeling is exacerbated when one’s age puts them...

5 reasons you should care about the new church fostering movement

A new movement is emerging among churches of all sizes. Though in its infancy, this movement has the potential to add a significant amount of energy to the world of church revitalization. The church fostering movement is one you should follow. What is church fostering? It’s good...

Help and Hope: ‘Humanity at its finest’

The remnants of Tropical Storm Fred dumped unexpected levels of rain on western North Carolina last month, pushing the Pigeon River beyond its banks in Haywood County and causing devastation to homes in its path. Aug. 17, 2021, is a date many residents will never forget. “I have...

Baptism Sunday requires volunteer training, preparation, pastor says

As part of Baptism Sunday alongside other Southern Baptists, Mercy Church has several names slated of those to enter the baptistry Sept. 12. But it’s those unplanned baptisms, said Pastor Spence Shelton, that require an extra level of training for volunteers. Of course, anyone who...

20 years later: Baptists on Mission remember 9/11 response

When the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial was closed to the public this summer because of COVID-19 restrictions, Skip Greene drove as close as he could to the gate. Greene, a longtime member of First Baptist Church of Boone, wanted to see the place where he served 20 years ago,...

Tharrington honored for 50 years of service with Baptists on Mission

Lynn Tharrington had two dreams as a little girl — to work in an office and serve as a missionary. Never in her wildest imagination did Tharrington think she would get to do both for 50 years while serving North Carolina Baptists in the same role for the entirety of her working...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get the latest news and event information by signing up for the Childhood Ministry newsletter.

Select Language ^

Share This

Share this with your friends!