Many kids growing up in a Christian home will walk away from their Christian faith after they graduate and leave home. This is a sad reality. In 2011, Kara Powell and Chap Clark researched this phenomenon and wrote the book Sticky Faith to address this crisis. The book is written to help parents raise kids with a faith in Christ that will stick. It provides “a compelling rationale and a powerful strategy to show parents how to encourage their children’s spiritual growth so that it will stick with them into adulthood and empower them to develop a living, lasting faith.”
It shares many of the same principles as the book Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna (see my blog summarizing Ten Principles and Ten More Principles from that book). Central to both books is the premise that the life and faith of dad and mom is the most significant factor in the faith development of kids. “More than even your support, it’s who you are that shapes your kid. In fact, it’s challenging to point to a Sticky Faith factor that is more significant than you. How you express and live out your faith may have a greater impact on your son or daughter than anything else.”
It’s not just what you say, it’s who you are and what you do. Paul says that his own ministry was patterned after the affection and exhortation of a mother and father.
“But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
Years ago, our Life Groups studied the Sticky Faith book. At the end of our study, we all wrote down concepts and principles that we wanted our kids to know before they grew up and left the house – not just ideas they had in their head, but concepts deep in their heart that would enable them to live out their faith as an adult. I compiled and organized all that our group shared into a list of fifteen truths that I pray my own kids hold onto when they leave home.
- We are always here for you. We will always be you mom and dad. You can always trust us. You can tell us anything. You can always come to us for help.
- Trust Christ as your Savior. Put Jesus in the center. Trust in him for this life and for eternity. Ground your identity in him – not what you do or what the world says about you. Walk with him every day.
- You will make mistakes. Mistakes and failures are a part of life. Own up to them. Learn from them. Ask God for forgiveness and accept it.
- Truth is found in God’s Word. Don’t believe everything you hear. The world will offer all sorts of ideas and stories that seem appealing, but ground yourself in God’s truth. Read the Word. Know the Word. Live by the Word.
- Sin is not fun. Sure some sins have a “fleeting pleasure” associated with them, but sinful choices always have consequences. Those consequences always outweigh the appeal. Sin is never worth it. God has given us his commands to protect us. Sin hurts. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you, to give you passion for the right things, and restraint for the wrong things.
- You can’t do it alone. If you are going to stay faithful to Christ and live a fulfilling life, you are going to need other people. Stay connected to the church and a close community of people serious about following Jesus.
- We will always love you. There may be times that we don’t support your choices, but that isn’t because we don’t love you. It’s because we do love you.
- Use your money wisely. Money is good and necessary, but don’t live your life for money. A big bank account doesn’t mean happiness. Don’t be wasteful, but also don’t be overly frugal. Be generous and give away some of what God has given you. Be a good steward, spend wisely, and save for later. Enjoy what God has given you for his glory.
- Be content with what you have. Whether it is your car, a house, friends, or a spouse, appreciate what you have. There is always more, but be content with what God has given you. The grass is not greener on the other side; the grass is green where you water it (that means you need to invest and care for what you have!)
- Be patient. Yes, do things and try things, but don’t rush life. Don’t make rash decisions hoping for a quick fix or instant gratification. You have your whole life to accomplish your dreams.
- Work hard. Very little in this life worth having comes easy. Strive, struggle, toil – all by God’s grace, with God’s Spirit. Work hard for the things worth having, and also take time to rest.
- Serve others. Selfish people are never happy. Consider other people more important than yourself. Have compassion for others. Give your life to love and serve the people in your life.
- You don’t know everything. Be humble enough to admit that! Be teachable. Learn from others and ask for help.
- Life will be hard. This world is fallen, so you will face disappointment. Even if you make good choices and live wisely, you will face hardship. Some of your expectations will not be met. Don’t lose your faith. Trust God who is sovereign over the good and the bad.
- Enjoy life. Have fun. Go on adventures. Love deeply. Find ways to laugh. Trust God and obey him. “Only one life, will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last” (C.T Studd).
If you are a young adult, has your Christian faith stuck with you? If you are a parent, how are you living to prepare your children for adulthood?
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”Proverbs 22:6