One of the things that I found when I first started at my current church, was how many of the college students I met, students who had grown up at our church and were very active members of our youth group and other church programs, were not connected to any type of faith community after graduating high school.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the state of affairs with most churches today, I’d guess. And the question for youth workers is how to create a faith that’s sticky, a faith that will carry these students through their college years and beyond. Of course, there are many different perspectives on this issue of faith formation for young adults. Another perspective I’ve heard from college chaplains, is that we actually hope that students WILL step away from their faith the first couple years of college, to deconstruct or unlearn much of what they believed when they were younger, so that they can claim a faith that is actually theirs and one that they can believe in more strongly.
However, many of those students who do step away from faith, don’t actually return to faith, so that perspective has its problems as well. The folks at the Fuller Youth Institute have been wrestling with this question for quite awhile, and just recently launched a new website, StickyFaith.org, and will be coming out with some books in the fall (one primarily for youth leaders, another primarily for parents).
I had a chance to hear from Brad Griffin at a recent youth conference that I was at with my church, and was impressed with the work they are doing around the issue of trying to help create a stickier faith for our youth and young adults. I’ll be pre-ordering the book, Sticky Faith, and I’d encourage you to do so as well if you’re in youth ministry.
There are a variety of ways you can stay in touch with the folks behind Sticky Faith.