Tag Archives: Student Ministry

Book Review – The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell

Last year our church transitioned from having a “children’s ministry” department and a “student ministry” department to having a “family ministry” model. Instead of seeing these two stages of life as two-clear-distinct-separated stages we came to the realization that we can minister more holistically to parents and their children with the understanding that the development of a child’s faith is a process that really begins at birth and continues on even into the college years. In the process of transitioning into a “family ministry” model we have sought to discover ways that we can help parents cultivate environments and experiences that can help their children’s faith flourish – because the truth is parents can often feel overwhelmed by the idea of being their child’s primary source of spiritual care, its easier to outsource that to the kids ministry pastor, small group leader, or youth pastor.

Parents can often feel overwhelmed by the idea of being their child’s primary source of spiritual care.

As we have been trying to figure out how to practically help these parents we have been scouring all sorts of resources that we can use to create resources for parents – that is when I came across The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family by Kara Powell….

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family is an easily readable, easily accessible, and entertaining collection of “Sticky Faith” research findings partnered alongside of “Sticky Ideas.” Youth pastors know that the Sticky Faith team is at the forefront of youth culture research, so you know that the findings you are reading in this book are very well researched and are the latest-greatest thing. Youth pastors also know that the Sticky Faith team isn’t simply a group of theoreticians, the Sticky Faith team is a team run by practitioners, so you know that the practical advice offered in this book is tested and tried.


  • The Sticky Ideas Seep Into Every Area of Life – Its easy to think of a child’s spiritual formation as simply something that happens on Sunday’s or Wednesday nights at church or possibly around the dinner table at home, but Powell does a good job pointing out that faith develops at home, on vacation, in community, in our mistakes, in our transitions, and even in our times of service. Basically if you are looking for “sticky faith ideas” to start applying to many areas of life, you will find them here.
  • It is Super Practical – The cover of the book states that there are “over 100 practical and tested ideas to build lasting faith in kids.” 100 ideas! Trying to implement 100 new practices in your family can seem overwhelming if not impossible. However Powell is pretty clear on the fact that parents can’t implement all 100 ideas, they probably can’t even implement 10 ideas really well! She recommends that you aim for 5, 3 or just even 1 idea before you start to implement new ideas.
  • The Chapter on Transitions – Transitions between elementary to jr. high to high school to college can be some of the most difficult seasons in a child’s life and even in a parent’s life. But one thing that is often underestimated is how difficult those transitions can be for youth pastors. As somebody who had the difficult task of helping high school students transition into our college ministry I certainly appreciate any help I can get. Powell provides plenty of practical advice for making that transition. She also provides (in the appendix) an overview of the College Transition Project – within this appendix she provides research criteria for “vibrant faith.” College ministers will definitely appreciate this criteria, not as a fool proof list of things to judge one’s student’s faith but as a helpful guide to evaluating where your students might be at.

I highly recommend this book – and that isn’t just me saying that – I actually liked this book so much that I gave it to our family ministry’s pastor as a possible resource for equipping parents to instill vibrant faith into their student’s lives.

(Note: I received this book courtesy of Zondervan in exchange for an impartial review.)


Lost in Transition

“We are going to lose them…”

Those words often get tossed around when church leaders discuss high school students making the transition into college. To a certain extent this is a legitimate worry – there are many factors in play as to why students get lost in transition. This is especially a concern for churches that have both a high school ministry and a college ministry. Naturally there are cultural patterns that influence high school students to disconnect from church as soon as they graduate – but its not only their fault. The church should accept its responsibility and admit that it is partly to blame for why students get lost in transition.

High School Graduation

As summer approaches my church faces the challenge (that many other churches face) of how we are going to help our high school seniors make a successful transition into our college ministry.  But there are several things that we do  to help them make this arduous transition; for instance we make sure that our college ministry and its leaders interact often with the High School ministry – that way the Seniors have some familiar faces when they come into the college ministry. We also encourage some of our college leaders to attend camps/events and hang out with the seniors during the few months before they graduate. These are just a few of many things that we do to help them make this transition, however there are some issues that the American church as a whole needs to address if this generation is going to make the jump from being believers as children and teenagers to being believers as adults. If the church doesn’t address these issues we will have a generation that gets lost in transition…

David Kinnaman, in his latest book You Lost Me, outlines six reasons why so many people in this generation get lost in transition:

  1. Many see the church as overprotective and sheltered.
  2. Many see the church as shallow, including its teaching.
  3. Many see the church as anti-science.
  4. Many see the church as repressive and judgmental.
  5. Many see the church as exclusive.
  6. Many see the church as an unsafe place to express doubt.

It would seem as though this is actually a perception issue, as though the Church has made some bad PR moves and all that needs to happen is that the Church needs to do a better job in how it portrays itself. However the issue is much deeper than that….

Some of these issues spring from the church acting in an un-Christlike manner, prioritizing religion over authentic faith, however some of these issues spring from a clash between the gospel and cultural norms. We know that the church cannot compromise the gospel for the sake of coming in line with cultural norms. However, as the church ensures that we don’t let this generation slip out of our hands we will need to reexamine ourselves and make sure that we aren’t pushing people away because we refuse to let go of religious norms and traditions.

In other words, we need to look at this list and determine which of these factors if any are the logical consequence of the gospel and which of these factors are birthed out of our own tradition and preference.