Sticky Faith Book Club, Chapter 1

This is part 1 in an 8 part series on Sticky Faith. Join our book club by signing up here

A horrible reality

For Kristen and I, the journey towards Sticky Faith for our own kids began in 2008. The first seven years of parenting went by in a blur of Sunday school lessons, small groups, Wednesday night youth group, and retreats. From 2000 – 2008 seemingly all of our energy went towards our ministry. We went into ministry as a couple to serve the church together. But as time went on in reality it became that I was in full-time ministry while Kristen was a full-time parent. Our marriage was functional but periodically miserable because life wasn’t panning out the way we’d hoped. Surely, a life in full-time ministry and having a family wasn’t supposed to be like this?

We were losing them. Their child-like faith was evaporating before our eyes. We could observe it. But then Megan (then 7 years old) actually said it.

Daddy, the reason I hate church is because that’s where you love other kids but ignore us.

That was a double dagger. First, she said she hated church. Second, she hated church because of our vocation. Before she said that we knew things needed to change. But those words took the conversation from “We know we need to make adjustments” to “Holy crap, we have to change things NOW!

A commitment to change

As I read the first chapter of Sticky Faith my heart soared with the reality that it’s not too late. Maybe we lost some of the early battles but we haven’t lost the war… yet. In that regard statistics matter and don’t matter. I have three kids. It’s impossible for me to look at the 50% rate of Sticky Faith and pick 1.5 of them to make it. I can’t hold Jackson in my arms or send Paul and Megan to school hoping that one or two of them stick with Jesus into adulthood.

Kristen’s reflections:

In 1 Samuel 1:27-28, Hannah delivers her son Samuel to Eli the priest saying, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” It’s hard to imagine physically giving back a child I desperately prayed for. In reality, I know that my children already belong to the Lord. Faith development is the “giving them over to the Lord” part of my parental responsibilities. It requires action and intentionality. Gut check time. Am I intentional in building faith in my kids? Truthfully I fail (often).

Adam and I have three children – Megan (10), Paul (8) and Jackson “JT” (7 months). In case you missed it, we are far from being model parents. The statement made on page 24 gives me hope, “Hear this good news: because faith development is a lifelong process for all of us, it is never too late to be more intentional in your parenting and the faith you model and discuss with your kids.” Adam and I are still learning and developing as parents. With JT’s arrival and with Megan inching her way toward middle school, we have a new determination to make faith development a priority.

The book asks, “What do you wish you had done differently?” For me, I wish I were more intentional about developing the discipline of prayer. (Confession time, my prayer life is active but mostly private.) What about you?

Questions for parents in ministry

  1. There’s a reason you joined this book club, right? What problems are you hoping to address by reading this book and processing it’s learnings with fellow ministers?
  2. How would you define Sticky Faith for your kids?
  3. As a minister, how does it make you feel to think that you are the most important influence on your child’s faith?
  4. As you think about how you have parented thus far, what are ways that your ministry is getting in the way of your parenting?





61 responses to “Sticky Faith Book Club, Chapter 1”

  1. Shawn Michael Shoup Avatar

    1) Who doesn’t want to be a better parent? And secondly, what believer doesn’t want their kids to follow after Christ? I’m the father of five, two in high school, two in grade school, and a 1-year-old toddler. I’m a district leader in my denomination and sometimes still feel clueless when I see my children’s faith fail or waiver. I’m all in! I want to learn how to do this better.

    2) I want the John 10:10 life for them. I don’t want ANY of them to live a life that isn’t up to their full God-potential. I can see all the things God COULD do through them and I don’t want to see them fall through the cracks.

    3) Gulp! Like I’d better take it more seriously. I’ve known this for most of my adult life, but do I live like I believe it? I don’t know.

    4) Definitely time consuming. I’ve been pretty protective of our evenings together, but wonder if that’s the only thing I can be doing. 

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Now that I’ve been out of day-to-day church employment a bit I’m surprised at how fondly my kids remember things I did right. Like, they LOVED it when I would take them to church and let them play in the kids areas all by themselves. They talk about that all the time. And they also LOVED the 1-2x per month I would bring them with me to move 400 chairs into our out of the sanctuary. That’s encouraging because those were time eaters and I just dragged them along… but it made an impression. Cool!

  2. Danny Bowers Avatar
    Danny Bowers

    1- For me I’m not looking to address problems but learn, watch & hear how others are taking significant moments to build up their kids with spiritual building blocks.  I value learning from others and know i am NOT perfect as a parent but hoping collectively we (book club) can challenge & encourage each other to engage a little deeper or intentionally than what we are doing.

    2- Faith that walks humbly in Fear of God but engages each day with conversation about EVERY aspect of life.  Compartmentalization is a swear word in my book.

    3- I love it & it scares me.  Not having a dad growing up I highly value the chance to be a huge/the biggest influencer & model for my kids faith.  It scares me cause I feel like i suck at it every week.  I don’t want in 20 years to see my failure & faults be a reason my kids go off the preverbal “deep end”

    4- Time.  A quote i’ve held onto since Psychology undergrad is “BUSYNESS RAPES RELATIONSHIPS”.  it’s a strong quote I know but I hate when ministry eats the time I’d have with my kids & family.  I have to fight hard to put strong boundaries up so my kids know they have my full attention at anytime, anywhere & with anything.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I like that quote and will steal it mercilessly. 

      I didn’t grow up with a dad in my life either. I mean, he was there sometimes, but not the way I want to be there for my kids. 

      I use that fact as both a motivator and a stress relief. Without a doubt I want to be there for my kids in ways my dad only dreamed of. I saw his regrets and he tells them to me all the time. The flip side? Somehow I turned out OK. God’s ultimately the true Father who want walk away and was there for me even when I didn’t want Him there. That second thing reminds me that I’m über important but when I fail… God has my parenting back!

      1. Danny Bowers Avatar
        Danny Bowers

        Yes & Yes on God having my parenting back. Donald Miller unpacks that theme in a chapter in his Book TO OWN A DRAGON.  I cried a lot reading that book, it picked off some scabs that i realized never healed in my own soul.  I love the fact that God has father can be called ABBA Daddy in one breathe & HOLY GOD in another and yet his grace is the same grace for me!

  3. Joel Harrison Avatar

    1) As a new parent (our firstborn just turned 9 months old), my prayer is to learn as much as I can to make sure that my wife and I can raise our daughter to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. As a youth minister my prayer is that through the information in “Sticky Faith” I can show the parents in our congregation the importance of discipling their children and not just parenting their children.

    2) Simply become true disciples of Jesus Christ – not just in name – but with their entire being.

    3) In one since, I feel really privileged – I get the greatest joy of sharing with my girl the love of Jesus Christ. At the same time it is intimidating because I also have to make sure that I am living with integrity and actually showing and demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ. As her dad, she will see everything I do (unlike the students in youth group). Now more than ever – I need to have a complete and total life of integrity for my daughter’s sake.

    4) Time is the biggest struggle. Balancing ministry, family, and personal time with God is always a struggle, but I do believe a balance can be found.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      If I could go back to where you are at… I’d change a lot. I was SO FREAKING BUSY Megan’s first year of life. I was a full time undergrad student, had a FT job in the business world, and had a PT job at the church. I think this is a great time to establish boundaries and learn from the other parents in this group. (Hint: hopefully someone will jump in!)

      1. Lisette Fraser Avatar
        Lisette Fraser

        This is an area of passion for me . . . setting up for sustainable, long term, healthy ministry! I think when your kids are young is the time to establish the boundaries, absolutely!!! There’s a number of things that are important to establish & hold to, but perhaps the one that I think has been the most important to us: Dinner & bedtime! We know in youth ministry nights out can get crazy! Early on, my husband and I made a commitment that we would only miss one dinner/bedtime per week (whenever humanly possible!) Our kids bedtime was 7:00 for a long time. So, our routine was to keep 5-7 as family time, all the time. We’d have dinner, bath time, etc & then we’d tuck the kids in. Often, I’d be off with students or for meetings after that, but I committed to starting evening stuff at 7:30 so that I’d be home for the important stuff. To this day, even with the kids 8 & 10 yrs old, this is one of the most vital, meaningful parts of our day. They go to bed a little later, but I still miss at most, 2 bedtimes a week. It’s one of the little things we did . . . but man, it’s been huge to our kids!!! 

        1. Kristen McLane Avatar

          We do well with the bedtime routine and Adam has been scheduling meetings after the children are in bed so that he can be home. I appreciate the effort. Dinnertime is an entirely different story. Tons of room for improvement!

  4. Randy Evans Avatar
    Randy Evans

    Hello everyone, I’m not a parent to me own, so I’m reading this book in acouple different ways.

    1} When I was a teenager coming out of High School I thought I had everything planned. My family never went to church, so the church was my family. I went to bible college, I was a youth pastor at the age of 19, and thought I could’nt be touched. As soon as I was questioned though I turned. Theres alot more to the story, but as I read Sticky Faith I say to myself “Randy, I wish I had this book then”

    2} Knowing why you truly believe what you believe, but also being open to listen to others.

    3} AMAZED

    4} Not there yet.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Looking forward to getting to know you better and hoping you can unpack #1 some more. 

    2. Kristen McLane Avatar

      I’m looking forward to your perspective as we all read the book together. Thanks for joining us!

  5. Caroline Wood Avatar

    1. I’m interested in processing this with fellow ministers. I’d like to hear perspectives and ideas on reversing the trend of from slippery faith to faith that sticks. 
    2. Sticky Faith is faith that makes a difference in your life and in choices. It stays with you into adulthood rather than slipping away in college. 
    3. The feeling is overwhelming. My children are 25,23 and 20. I’m glad it’s not too late. I wish I had been even more vocal in the struggle between cultural pulls and faith in earlier years of their lives.
    4.Ministry has always been there. I think I tried to give my kids room to question and doubt…to a point. I tried to take off the professional minister hat when at home. Keeping the pro hat off, I should have opened more conversations with them about their faith. 

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      As I was reflecting on your response to #3 I couldn’t help smiling. You’re going to love this book! Chapter 3 really gets practical with stuff that would make tons of sense with a 20 year old. 

  6. Harper Charlie Avatar
    Harper Charlie

    1. I am not a parent yet, but a youth worker on several levels constantly thinking through how to disciple students in a lasting way.  However, my wife and I should be foster parents by the end of the year, so I am getting ahead!
    2. I admit that I would have defined it the way I have seen it described in the book with kids that later left the faith, so I am looking forward to this discussion.  I would describe it as faith expressed by genuine desire not because they are supposed to.
    3.  It is overwhelming and my passion at the same time.
    4.  Not there yet.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I don’t know you guys super well, but we’ve been online friends forever. I think you and Char would be amazing foster parents!

  7. Tim Desilets Avatar

    1. My wife and I started doing high school ministry four years ago after doing six years of just junior high work.  This past spring we graduated our first group of students that we’d spent eight years with.  We’d graduated other classes in previous years bur for some reason this one felt different – for both them and us.  This year we have our largest senior class ever and I can only imagine that it will feel the same and I just wonder often if we’ve done everything we could from the beginning to prepare them accordingly.  
    On top of that we have three little girls 5, 3, and 2 weeks old and my joke has been that I won’t know what to do with them until they hit middle school but there’s reality there too – I know we need to be proactive now to instill the right values and practices in their lives. 

    2.  Sticky Faith is purely a faith that lasts beyond their attachment to the family, church, ministry, mentors, and whoever else that have shaped them day to day to the point where they move on into a less attached part of this world (college, career, marriage, etc).

    3.  It’s a scary reality that I don’t like to think about but know it’s true.

    4.  I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far.  We have strong boundaries and I invest a ton of time in my kids but I worry that we won’t know the true effect of our ministry vs. our parenting until it’s too late.

    I’m really looking forward to this discussion and this book!

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      How are you establishing these boundaries. I don’t think Kristen and I are alone in struggling through that. We need ideas!

    2. Kristen McLane Avatar

      Congratulations for the birth of your youngest. I would also like to know what types of boundaries you have set.

  8. Shawn&Amy Avatar

    1. No problems… Yet! Just looking to be more intentional about growing our kids (8,4,1) in Christ.
    2. We want them to be defined by Christ. Everything that they are and will become is an outflow of that.
    3. Good…and scared. We like knowing that what we do and say ultimately matters…scary in that it really matters!
    4. The biggest thing is being tired. Feeling like they often get leftovers at best. So, we’ve had a year of learning to adjust priorities, control schedule and change attitudes. Still have a lot of work to do!

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      We are like 2 years ahead of you. And I hope the problems don’t come at you like they did us! Developmentally, our oldest started checking our motivations at about this age. She wasn’t just interested in what we did… but also in WHY we were doing it. I remember conversations like, “Are we going to church so people can see you at church or because you really want to be there? Because if you do… why do you check Facebook during the message?” Oh, SNAP!

  9. Lisette Fraser Avatar
    Lisette Fraser

    Thanks for inviting us into the discussion! Definitely something we need to be doing more of as pastors & parents . . . mostly, as parents, who are also pastors & forget to talk just as parents!!!

    1. I’m passionate about this whole sticky faith concept for my family & my students. We’ve been called to give our lives away for the sake of the gospel – but if we give it away for naught, that’d be sad (understatement!) Would love to figure out how to do it better! 
    Our kids are 8 & 10 years old. Right now, their faith is alive and a joy to witness, but I know that questions and challenges will come. Faith will struggle. As parents, my husband and I want to be as proactive & intentional as possible. So, conversations like this matter.

    2. Sticky faith for our kids . . .faith that has completely transformed their lives. Where they love Jesus & share Him simply by how they choose to live.

    3. It’s what I have sleepless nights about!

    4. I know that I get way to emotionally involved with my students & unfortunately, that can leave me emotionally depleted for my own kids. They sometimes get a very tired & distracted Mama, instead of the present one the need.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      “that can leave me emotionally depleted for my own kids” I let out a deep sign when I read this. Exactly. I don’t think my job should leave me so emotionally depleted that I can’t parent. I wonder what that means for my ministry, too? Does that mean I need to be a little less emotionally involved?

      1. Lisette Fraser Avatar
        Lisette Fraser

        Boundaries, right?! Seems to be a huge theme . . . how do we put emotional boundaries? I know I’m better at this than I used to be. But I still have a long way to go! If we don’t engage emotionally, are we really engaged? And yet, if we’re totally depleted, are we any good? So, I have more questions than answers on this one, too! I’m thankful for a husband who gets this & keeps me accountable to being present & to letting things go. Also, to saying no to kids & asking them to wait. The crisis will still exist in the morning, so might as well have coffee then, instead of at night 🙂 If you know what I mean?! An area of constant learning & growth!

        1. Adam McLane Avatar

          I wonder what we can learn about this from teachers? Certainly, they are heavily invested. But perhaps they are better (as a tribe) at keeping a professional distance? 

          One thing I was reflecting on is how we call people in our youth group “my kids.” Um, they aren’t yours!

  10. Beth Hill Avatar
    Beth Hill

    1.  I’ve missed opportunities so often with my own kids, and sometimes I feel like I’m more focused on ministry kids.  Two of my kids are in college, and I’d love for the two that are left at home to keep their faith later in life.  One of my college daughters is incredibly involved in ministry at school.  The other not so much.  

    2.  Sticky faith is deep in the core of their (our) being.  It’s transforming ourselves and our kids to the point where we see the fruits of the spirit and our decisions are based on our faith than anything else. It’s a faith that doesn’t go away just because there are trials and problems in life.  Faith grows in those times.

    3.  It’s hard for me to comprehend that I’m the biggest influence on their faith.  My parents weren’t on mine.  It was teachers and friends parents more than my own.  My parents never really talked about it or showed it other than going to church.  

    4.  I’ve done some things well and others not so well.  The biggest ministry obstacle has been with daughter number 2.  She didn’t care too much for her mom being involved in “her” youth ministry.  She attended other youth groups, which I encouraged.  When she attended our group she really didn’t like that I was either a volunteer or the youth minister.  

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      A couple of thoughts… first, I’m glad you’re closer with your mom now. She’s an amazing woman and I loved learning from her last summer. Second, I’d love to know how you processed your daughter going to another group. My ministry is soooo tied up in my ego that I don’t know how I’d handle that. 

      1. Beth Hill Avatar
        Beth Hill

        My ego and Lauren don’t get along!  Truthfully I think that kids need to hear different voices in their lives.  Sometimes there are issues they can’t talk about with a parent but if there’s another trusted adult around then it’s better for them.  If she was coming to our youth group with a resistant wall up because I was there, but could go somewhere else and have that wall down, better for her.  My third daughter’s best friend’s dad is a youth pastor so she went to that youth group as well.  She didn’t have the issues with me being the youth pastor, just wanted to go to that group too.  I encouraged it and didn’t let it get to me because it’s more about God than it is me.  And my mom has changed A LOT since I was a kid. 

        1. Kristen McLane Avatar

          I second what Adam said about your mom…I was just thinking about her this week (say hi to her for me!) And as for what you said, it just offers further proof (and encouragement) that faith building is a life-long process.

  11. Chris Wheeler Avatar

    1. Your comment about your child not wanting to go to church really hit home – I have two in college (and one still at home) and it seems like they’ve “shelved” their faith for now. I want some way to bring them back.

    2. For me, sticky faith is the journey – and being sure of the right path

    3. My child has also said to me that I act like I love the youth kids more.  And my husband said to me once when I was yelling at my child “what do you think your youth would say to you right now, especially after Sunday’s lesson on anger?”

    4. I am an okay parent, an okay youth minister.  But I don’t think I should settle for okay.  I want to be outstanding.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Your wisdom is going to totally help this group Chris. Lets learn from one another! And I love your self-challenge. That’s my prayer, too. Lord, make me a better dad.

  12. Julie Chee Avatar
    Julie Chee

    Wow, I am so looking forward to walking the next few weeks with all of you through this book!  Everyone’s had so many wonderful thoughts and genuine sharings!  As for Chap 1. I REALLY appreciated that the authors, as much as they are looking at the research they acknowledge that the reality of God and our reliance on Him is so much more necessary and valuable than any statistic given.  A great way to start as the research paints such a bleak picture….SO,

    1. I am hoping that through insights in this book and in all of your sharings that the Lord would reveal areas in the way I “walk” my faith where I am trying to “control” or when I am not so genuine particularly when I am at home with my family.  I have 2 daughters, 16 and 14.5.  It was good to be reminded that our faith continues to grow each one of us.  I too want to be proactive in spiritually parenting my girls.

    2.  Sticky faith is growing in a relationship with the person of God not the concept of God.  I liked how they talked about the internal and external manifestations of faith.

    3.  I get a lump in my throat and this heaviness on my heart and remember all the times I blew it.  I wonder why I don’t also think of the times good seeds were being planted?  It is humbling.

    4.  I think the managing of time and energy is something I seem to struggle with when it comes to minstry and home life.  It can in negative and postive ways affect my emotions and ability to be present with my kids (and husband) and the ability to listen and be led by the Holy Spirit. 

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I can’t wait until we get into later chapters… you’ll have LOADS of stuff to try. I was reading chapter 3 today and saying, “Yup, gonna try that” on every page. 

      I join you in my excitement for this group. God’s put it together… can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

    2. Leena Prindle Avatar
      Leena Prindle

      Julie, glad to see your name and post here.:)

  13. Megan Avatar

    1. We aren’t parents quite yet, but we are really looking forward to reading the book together and learning from others. This is a great opportunity to start discussing these ideas before we are in the thick of it.  
    2. Sticky faith is faith that grows and evolves over a lifetime. The core of who we are and what we do is defined and guided by the idea that we belong to God. 
    3. I think the idea that “we get what we are” requires some self-examination.  Do I really want who I am to be reproduced in someone else?

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      First, this is a great time to think about parenting… before you have kids. Second, what’s really scary is that your kids are like a mirror for the good and the bad qualities of your personality. God is kind of messed up like that!

  14. Alon Banks Avatar

    First let me say that our kids are 7 and 11. As our oldest began middle school I was struck with a huge realization that life as I knew it suddenly changed. It became less about making sure my son did his homework and stuck it back in the folder, had fun on the playground, and at all his lunch. To, staring him smack in the face and trying to mold him into an adult and the process that entails.

    It has kept me awake at night realizing the challenge we have been given but has given me a peace knowing that God is in this.

    1. I wanted to read this book because I have realized the problem of me not verbally expressing my faith and sometimes lack of, with my kids. It’s too easy to “shield them” from dialogue with my wife or with God when allowing them to hear it would show them faith lived out.2. Stick Faith is just like a magnet, if you put like sides to each other they repel, but if you put opposite side to each other they can’t help but stick together. You can move the magnets away from each other but they always are pulling back to each other. I want their faith to be just like that, there may be times you are feeling away from God, but you are still being pulled back to him and he’s being pulled toward you.3. It is exciting and scary. Scary and exciting.4. I have been fortunate to work for para-church organizations that have encouraged family life, so I haven’t missed the usual things (games, recitals, etc.). I feel it has been an excuse for not doing ministry as a family, and that it’s just my job and not trying to share the ways God is working there. Trying to not bring home work is a blessing and a curse.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      I’m so stealing that magnet thing. What a cool metaphor. 

      1. Alon Banks Avatar

        Feel free….it breaks down a little, but I feel our goal as parents is to keep them as close to God as we can and let the magnets do the work.

    2. Kristen McLane Avatar

      I remember thinking in the hospital (after JT was born in February) that our two older kids were giants compared to JT. I think it was a big wake-up call (where did the last 10 years go…and what can I do to “redeem” the time that I have left.)

  15.  Avatar

    We have a 10 year old, and one a few days from 13.  I know that we as parents are the #1 influence.  I have just watched so many students struggle over the years in our ministry, that I have always wanted to try to help our kids beat the averages.  I’m excited about the book, and about this discussion.  We’ve worked hard to keep our kids out of the ministry for the most part, and help them know they are priority over the ministry wherever we can.  It’s tough, but it’s do-able.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Unpack this statement for me… “We’ve worked hard to keep our kids out of the ministry for the most part.” Practically speaking, what does that mean? 

      1.  Avatar

        Adam, thanks for asking.  A couple of decades ago, when my wife and I started in ministry, I asked several friends who grew up as pastors kids, as well as pastors with older children, what had worked or failed as far as the “Pastor’s Kid Syndrome”.  One of the common denominators was that the kids who loved the church as adults had been insulated from a lot of the ministry.  What that has meant for us is that we made conscious decisions to keep our kids away from the youth group most of the time.  They didn’t come to meetings.  They didn’t go on retreats.  They didn’t go paintball, ice skate, etc.  Those were events for teenagers, and when they got in youth group, they could go.  We did have groups of kids over to our house, and our children could hang out with them.  But at their bedtime, they went to bed, even though the teens were still there.  I didn’t do much counseling at my house.  I don’t answer my cell phone from students or leaders when I’m with my kids.  We try not to talk about ministry too much around our kids.  Because of that, both of my girls have begged me to let them into youth group early.  We didn’t.  So, my oldest came into middle school last year as a 6th grader, and is experiencing all of the meetings and events for the first time, with her friends.  It’s all new to her.  My fourth grader is still waiting, impatiently.  It meant my wife had to stay home a lot, or I stayed home when she ran girl’s events.  We didn’t serve together much for the last 13 years.  We still have a couple of more to go before she can really jump back in.  But, so far, it’s paid off.  

        1. Kristen McLane Avatar

          Thanks for sharing. Your answer made me think of examples where churches hire with a “2 for 1” mentality. It’s great that spouses can minister together, but not at the expense of family! I like how you’ve managed to separate the two.

  16. Marc Hoogstad Avatar

    If I can jump in.  Just got the book Monday night, so took me a bit before I could get to it.

    1. I think the reason for me joining is twofold.  For starters, I see a general trend occuring about the health (or lack of) in the families of some of my colleagues.  The simple fact that TYC wanted to address this issue with youth workers alone suggests that there’s a common degree of unhealthiness in the homes of our youth workers.  I think that there have been many comments suggesting that.

    Second, yup, it’s personal.  I’ve got 3 crazy kids (7,4,1) and it dawned on me recently that all the stuff I’ve been preaching to my parents now applies to me. So, I want to be able to set the path, so to speak, starting now.

    2. Sticky faith, as I see it, requires two people: one to be the stick-er, and one the stick-ee.  While in the early stages it would seem that the second person (my child) is almost entirely passive in this arrangement.  That pretty much means that it’s my (and my wife’s) responsibility to pass down the most transparent and authentic faith as we can, blemishes and all.  But at some point, as my influence decreases, my child must, well, remain sticky, I guess, and that becomes an active process on his part.  He must take that faith that we’ve passed, and make it his own.  That means that I must provide for them both the authentic faith to grab on to, and the tools necessary to make it their own.

    3. As a youth pastor, I am confident in my role as an encourager, supporter, cheerleader for the parents in my community. I know my role there very well  As a parent, I’m pretty scared.

    4. A big thing that I’ve come to realize can be summed up in one word: distraction.  My family distracts me from my work.   When I’m in my office I’m thinking about the stuff that’s not getting done at home, the lawn that needs cutting, getting my kids to sports stuff, etc.  My work distracts me from my family. When I’m home I’m thinking about the next event or lesson, checking texts and emails from youth, etc. I have been learning how to “be present,” both at work and at home.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Pretty interesting that you picked up on TYC emphasis. Indeed, if church-based youth ministry is going to survive the next 40-50 years, we need to figure out how to parent and minister at the same time. And… the church has to become a great place to work. 

    2. Kristen McLane Avatar

      Your statement about your middle child being a passive stick-ee has felt true to me as well. As the stick-er, I’ve been learning to adjust some of what I do to my middle child’s age level, personality, and learning style.

  17. Marty Estes Avatar

    I’m really excited about reading this book with everyone, and I’m hoping it’s not just another book that gets filed away, but something that truly changes how I parent my children.  I have two children, 4 and 3, and hopefully looking to have one more in a couple of years.  

    1.  I joined this book club because I want to parent my children in a way that leads them to the Lord, but doesn’t just drop them there, hoping they’ll find him.  I want to be intentional in the way that I parent, and to not just tell them about, but to show them faith that sticks.  I’m really hoping to find a way to help my kids not turn into typical pastor’s kids.
    2.  Sticky Faith is a faith that colors every decision someone makes.  It’s a faith that isn’t easy, that presents hard choices and has a cost.  But, in the long run, it’s worth more than anything if we just hold on.  It’s a faith that grips us, and causes us to hold tight.  

    3.  Honestly, the fact that I’m the most important spiritual influence for my children scares the hell out of me.  I know that every move I make is being watched, even more than my teens at church, and that I’m accountable for not just every word I say, but every precept I teach, whether I mean to teach it or not.  I take the responsibility very seriously, and it’s caused me to take a long, hard look at some areas of my faith practice.  

    4.  There are times when I have something to do at home because I didn’t budget enough time to do it at the office.  Those are the times when my kids are pulling on me and saying they want to play, or they need something, and I’m trying to answer emails or finish a lesson.  I see how that could become a major problem in the future if I don’t stop.  

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      Ha! Thanks for your honesty. Yeah, it’s a lot of pressure and it scares us too. It’s crazy that people in our congregations somehow consider us to be experts? Yeah, right! 

  18. Teri V. Avatar
    Teri V.

    1) I’m not a parent yet either, BUT I knew I wanted to process this book in community – with fellow youth workers and with folks that are parents.  I’m an advocate for “ministry” NOT contributing to the dysfunction of families… and I think that this is a great piece of the conversation.  I’m hoping to discuss how we can minister to other kids as well as our own in ways that compliment/partner the family – and how can we better help the parents of our students minister to their own children.

    2)  Faith in Christ that continuously (sometimes continually, too) determines how we will engage with God and then in turn, how we will engage with other people.

    3) The idea of parents being the greatest indicator of where kids end up spiritually – for better or for worse frightens me.  I was an exception – My parents weren’t believers. (My father is saved now.)  When I find myself in ruts and seasons of complacency in my walk with God – I panic a little, as if I’m becoming more like “them.”  It also scares me for some of my students.  I know there are exceptions.  But I’ve also watched a lot of my most passionate students slide into more “mature” postures and much more closely resemble the faith (or lack thereof) of their parents.  Maybe fearful isn’t the right word – it makes me more dependent on God to be God… it makes me HAVE to be more trusting of His faithfulness.  That’s not bad.  It’s true.  And good for me to remember.  I can water and plant all I want – but only God can make them grow.

    4) n/a 🙂

  19. Patrick DeVane Avatar

    1.  My kids are 2 (her birthday is today) and 2 weeks old.  We are just getting discovering with my daughter (the 2 year old) how many things she already picks up and understands.  It served as a wake up call for my wife and myself that we haven’t always done the hard work to think through and articulate why we believe what we believe.  For a long time my faith was shaped by the Christians I didn’t want to be like, not by trying to be more like Jesus.  We’re in the book club because we want to have a place to think through and work through some of the ideas and practices we want to begin with our children.

    2.  I also like Alon’s magnet idea.  I’m not sure I have a great definition yet for myself.  I tend to take in information and let it settle in my mind until it comes out in an unexpected conversation or thought.  Right now I’m still settling what I’m hearing from others and reading in the book. 

    3.  This reality gives me comfort as a minister and scares me to death as a parent.  As a minister, it empowers me to emphasize the importance of family faith with my families and should re-prioritize how I spend my time and resources.

    4.  I am a perfectionist and I feel like I need to spend a certain number of hours in the office each week.  I’m the Pastor a small church so I’m doing a Bible study and sermon each week in addition to everything else.  The church doesn’t put this pressure on me, I put it on myself.  I try to bring creative teaching into whatever I do and I just don’t work well creatively in my office (shout out for 1970’s wood paneling!).  I am still working through the reality that taking care of my family doesn’t keep me from getting my creative work done.  In fact, I often times have better discussions with my wife that sharpens my thinking and enhances my teaching when I’m spending more time at home.  The biggest problem is my own guilt issues for not being in the office enough.

    Whew!  That’s a lot of talking.  I’m excited about this club and looking forward to the discussions!

  20. Brad M. Griffin Avatar

    Just want to add a note that the dialogue this is generating is amazing.  Thanks Adam for spearheading this idea and conversation!  I wish this kind of resource (your blog discussion) had been around when I started ministry & then parenting-in-ministry.  Obviously I have some thoughts about the book content…but bigger picture I just am so excited to learn from the dialogue generated out of this group of ministry people coming together to share ideas and care for each other.  Will be listening in along the way for sure!

  21. jimsparks Avatar

    1.  I want to have a full understanding of what the transition is like so we can prepare for it practically and emotionally as parents. We want our sons (All boys ages 5, 2, 9 weeks) to grow up with a sticky faith that sticks through every transition. Reading the first chapter, I couldn’t help but wonder what decisions my five year old has made in his first few weeks of kindergarten. I understand this is on a smaller scale, but this book so far has made me think about every transition in their lives. 

    2. I have made the mistake and have read the title Sticky Faith as Stinky Faith for some reason. But maybe that is what it is. I want them to be so full of the spirit that they wreak of it. (note to self: what you just wrote is weird and makes little sense, even if it does in your head).

    3. Humbling. Convicting. Scary. Exciting. I watched the webcast of the launch of Sticky Faith and one of the statements that has rattled my little world is how many young Christians don’t know their parents testimony. I began to ask around and was shocked in how many don’t know their parents testimony. Shoot, I don’t know my parents testimony. My kids will certainly know mine, and will be updated frequently on any new milestones.

    4. This is a biggie for me. Luckily I have a smart (and incredibly beautiful) wife that awakened me to my sometimes ridiculous ministry schedule. So much so, that I have missed major milestones in my kid’s lives. So two years ago she introduced the word NO into my vocabulary. I have started to use it more often and it works. And strangely people understand. Who would’ve known? I’m still not good at it, but I certainly say it more. 

    1. Kristen McLane Avatar

      Stinky faith, I like it. 🙂

  22. Alan Mercer Avatar

    I am a parent of four (15, 14, 13, 11) and have been in middle school ministry for over 20 years.  As a parent of teenagers, I am very passionate about parenting and my role in ministry is changing as a result.  I joined this book club because I desire to hear from, learn from, and share life with other parents who are youth workers.  This is a very important topic.

    Chap Clark introduced us all to the 5:1 concept in his book Hurt.  The idea being kids who have five adults investing in their lives are best positioned to make it through their adolescent years with their faith intact.  This is sticky faith, a faith that lasts beyond high school and college.  A faith that is transforming the life of the holder for a lifetime.  The joy of the 5:1 concept is that although I am the biggest overall influence in the life of my children, I am not alone.  In fact, there are points when my voice is not heard at all.  I need these other trusted adults to help me help my kids have a faith that sticks.  I can’t do this by myself.  I also know that this is really a God thing.  I’ve seen parent/teen combinations where teens have sticky faith from every cross section of family.  I’ve also seen kids who have walked away from faith in those exact same cross sections.  There is no formula for success.  There is only God, prayer, faithfulness, and more prayer.

    As a youth pastor to your kids, I’m great (humble too).  As a parent to my own children, I suck.  I don’t think I’m a total failure, but I definitely find I often am the least patient, least friendly, most moody, and most ugly with the people I love the most (my family).  This is not unique to ministry parents, it’s a universal parent thing, but it does bother me that I can be so uber patient with so many ADHD, sqirrely, quirky, and just plain dumb middle school kids at church (in fact they make me smile all the time) and then have zero patience for the same traits in my own children at home.  I know that because I am a “situational extrovert” (i.e. I am outgoing in front of kids or when I need to be, but prefer to be an introvert) and I am a task oriented freak more than a relational guru, my unique and odd combination of gifts don’t make me the “traditional” youth worker.  I also know that all of these things contribute to the fact that after youth group I have a hard time carrying on a conversation with my own children in the car on the way home.  I’m spent and emotionally and relationally tired and it’s a chore to keep going.  So, it’s easy to cheat my kids in that moment and withdraw into myself.

    1. Kristen McLane Avatar

      Thanks for sharing the 5:1 concept. We’ve been involved a small group and I’ve seen our children benefit from our adult small group friendships. One regret of not living close to my family is that our children our missing out on an everyday sticky relationship with their grandparents.

  23. Leena Prindle Avatar
    Leena Prindle

    I finally got the book and finally finished the reading. I am a slow reader in that I have to reread to make sure the ridden actually sank into my brain. I don’t often join book groups because I am slow and fall asleep when I do get to read. I like the idea of talking about being a parent in ministry and specifically guiding our conversation to focus in the faith of our own children.
    * sticky faith for my children- with our girls who are 4 and 7 years old – right now is prayers together at meals, bedtime, and anytime they are scared, worried, anxious, or sad. sticky faith is conversations about why their friends say “oh my God” all the time, or why their friends might not believe in God, or what God has created around us.
    * sometimes, as a minister, it freaks me out that I am impressionable on my children’s faith. I pray my work doesn’t turn them away, or that it causes them to not want to tell me when they have doubts and questions.
    * sometimes meetings in evenings, retreats, and such take me away from being with them. Also I used to get really highstrung if I needed to get work done at home. somehow I came across Andy Stanley’s book Choose to Cheat. It helped bring perspective as to who can equity and who needs me now.

    ~Leena P

  24. Leena Prindle Avatar
    Leena Prindle

    I finally got the book and finally finished the reading. I am a slow reader in that I have to reread to make sure the ridden actually sank into my brain. I don’t often join book groups because I am slow and fall asleep when I do get to read. I like the idea of talking about being a parent in ministry and specifically guiding our conversation to focus in the faith of our own children.
    * sticky faith for my children- with our girls who are 4 and 7 years old – right now is prayers together at meals, bedtime, and anytime they are scared, worried, anxious, or sad. sticky faith is conversations about why their friends say “oh my God” all the time, or why their friends might not believe in God, or what God has created around us.
    * sometimes, as a minister, it freaks me out that I am impressionable on my children’s faith. I pray my work doesn’t turn them away, or that it causes them to not want to tell me when they have doubts and questions.
    * sometimes meetings in evenings, retreats, and such take me away from being with them. Also I used to get really highstrung if I needed to get work done at home. somehow I came across Andy Stanley’s book Choose to Cheat. It helped bring perspective as to who can wait and who needs my priority now.I’m not perfect at it, but working on it daily with God’s grace.

  25. […] piece, check out Adam McLane’s Sticky Faith Book Club series, starting with Chapter One here. So this piece will not seek to go in-depth, but it was just too engaging a book not to share some […]

  26. […] been excited about Sticky Faith from the Fuller Youth Institute. Last Fall, I even headed up an online book club for parents in youth ministry. Together, we read the book and discussed its implications on our […]

  27. […] been excited about Sticky Faith from the Fuller Youth Institute. Last Fall, I even headed up an online book club for parents in youth ministry. Together, we read the book and discussed its implications on our […]

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