Grubby Faith training

Grubby Faith training

Last May we hosted the really interesting Sticky Faith tour.  This year it returns in the form of the Grubby Faith tour run by Scripture Union, Urban Saints and the Centre for Youth Ministry on Tuesday 24th May at St. Andrew’s Centre, 7.00-9.00pm.

 

Active engagement in mission (in its broadest sense) is key to disciple and living faith.  So can we involve children and young people in this?  A core finding from the Fuller Institute’s ‘Sticky Faith’ research was the difference that participation in outward focussed church and family activities made to developing faith that grows out and lasts.

 

The evening will explore what we mean by mission, and how parents, youth and children’s leaders and church leaders can engage children and young people in God’s passionate mission to his world.

 

7pm Coffee and cake

7.30pm Start

9.00pm Finish

 

Come join the conversation to be inspired and encouraged to invest in children and young people in a new way.

Sticky Faith training

Sticky Faith

Tonight it was great to host 45 leaders coming together to hear from Brian Spurling of Urban Saints and Sarah Smart from Scripture Union on Sticky Faith:

Consists of four major studies over 2004-2010. Based on American family and church life and culture. We’ve never undertaken this research in the UK, although there are some similar studies from Australia.

Key facts

  • 40-50% of older teens who went into further/higher education failed to stick at their faith.
  • Only 20% of those who leave their faith actually planned to do so. The other 80% intended to stick with their faith but didn’t. Interesting how many were staying in church just to please parents or enjoy the free chocolate and doughnuts.
  • For the 50-60% who do stick with their faith, their life-styles often become very similar to those of their non-Christian contemporaries.
  • Between 30-60% of teenagers who abandon their faith and their church do return to both in their late twenties. However, the damage has been done in terms of the consequences of ‘bad’ lifestyle choices.
  • The research shows little difference in the above between the genders.

What does it look like in the UK?

  • In 1980 almost 12% went to church at least once a month, in 2005 it was down to 7%. Recent research suggests this might level off, mainly due to immigration from countries with a strong catholic and church tradition.
  • Average age in 1980 was about 37 years old, now in 2015 it is aged 56 years old. We have an issue with an ageing population, but the church has an even bigger issue.
  • % of church goers who were aged 15yrs old and under in 1980 33% of the church was 15 years old and younger, in 2020 Peter Brierley expects it to be 5%.
  • The difference to the American church is that in the UK we struggled to keep children, whereas in the USA they kept them through to teenage years.
  • We were seeing 1,000 children aged 15 and under leaving the church every week in the 1990s – half-a-million a year.

There are two fundamental things that had been miscommunicated to teenagers by adults in their churches:

  1. Many young people have picked up a mistaken understanding of what it means to be a Christian. 66% thought it was just about living a life of good works that loves others and that please God and then he would be interested in you. 33% didn’t mention God and 33% didn’t mention Jesus. If you work with young people you might like to ask them this question. The key is relationship with a living God, who made us. Young people in the UK equate God as creator more than anything else.
  2. Many young people have picked up a mistaken understanding of what the gospel is too.
    1. The ‘gospel of sin management’: faith is reduced to a list of do’s and don’ts and focuses on the unpleasant consequences of ignoring the don’ts.
    2. The ‘Red Bull gospel’: a performance-led view of faith that believes staying on a treadmill of good works’ is what really counts. It is almost impossible to keep it up.
    3. The ‘Pharisee’ gospel: a view of faith that believes inner righteousness is achieved by being seen to do the right things on the outside. No need for personal holiness.

History has brought us to the point where the Christian message is thought to be essentially concerned with only how to deal with sin: with wrongdoing or wrong-being, and its effects. Life, our actual existence, is not included in what is presented at the heart of the Christian message, or it is included only marginally … The current gospel then becomes a ‘gospel of sin management.’

Dallas Willard The Divine Conspiracy

The core of Sticky Faith is developing a clear and honest understanding of both the gospel and biblical faith.

At the heart of Sticky Faith is a faith that trusts in God and understands that obedience is a response to that trust, in everything.

Dr. Kara E. Powell & Dr. Chap Clark

Sticky Faith is

  1. Both internal and external: part of the inner thought and emotions together with lifestyle choices and actions that reflect the inner faith commitment.
  2. Both person and communal: celebrating God’s love for the individual, but always locating faith in the wider community.
  3. Both mature and maturing: showing some evidence of maturity but recognising we are all on a journey.

Developing Sticky Faith

Consumer Gospel: Mike Yaconelli’s, Contemplative Youth Ministry, is a critical book to read. Outside In by Mike Green as you are turning young people into religious consumers through the youth ministry programmes. Mark Yaconelli said we have done it, we’ve

  Consumer approach Content (Sunday School) approach Contemplative approach
Rooted in Anxiety & fear We’ve always done it this way Love for the individual
Theology Faith is fun Faith is conformity Faith is an on-going relationship of trust
Leader Programme director Teacher Spiritual director pointing to God
Volunteers Chaperones Classroom assistants Seekers and mentors
Teaching Life skills/issues Religious information Way of Jesus/Christian living
Practice Passive entertainment Memorisation & reiteration Action rooted in prayer and reflection
Young people Religious consumers Potential church members Spiritual seekers

Key thoughts:

  • Expose young people to real-life examples of others learning to trust God.
  • Contrast ‘good things we should do’ with ‘trusting in a good God.’
  • Focus on trusting God before obeying God.
  • Teach about recovery and repentance.
  • Don’t dodge difficult questions about trust, but do avoid ‘pat’ answers.

How do we view young people:

  • Empty containers ready to be filled with knowledge.
  • Sinners in need of repentance.
  • Prisoners waiting to be freed.
  • Growing plants needing to b carefully tended.
  • Pieces of clay ready to be moulded.
  • Spiritual beings made in God’s image.

The last is the most challenging and yet rewarding.

What is the top issue that tweenagers need to sort out in their lives?

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I?
  • Why is there so much brokenness in the world?
  • How can I find a pathway to wholeness?
  • What does the future hold?

The Bible answers the questions in order beautifully from Genesis to Revelation. Things need to be grounded in the meta-narrative of God’s story.

Sticky Identity

From a survey of 7,000 11-16s from a wide variety of backgrounds, carried out between 2011 and 2014 by the New Philanthropy Capital.

  • Emotional wellbeing for boys is static aged 11-18 and above girls; whereas the girls drops down significantly and is always below boys.
  • Self-esteem matches this.
  • Overall life satisfaction the boys dips as well, but again the boys drops less than the girls.
  • Satisfaction in your community produces the steepest drop for both of them.

Key thoughts:

  • Develop rituals and rites of passage, and celebrate milestones reached or passed. (It works in family life too.)
  • Help your young people identify their passions and gifts. Affirm character growth more than academic achievement.
  • Help your young people to reflect more on their experiences, and grow through hardship.
  • Pay attention to ‘trigger moments’ that promote identity growth.
  • Aim for a diverse youth and children’s leadership team
  • Support your teens for at least an extra year when they leave home.

Sticky Church

Know your young people and involve them fully, not treating them as separate entities:

  • Involvement in all-age worship for teenagers is more consistently linked with mature faith than any other church-based activity.
  • The more teenagers serve and build relationships with younger children, the more likely it is that their faith will stick.
  • Teens in the survey said that the best way they felt welcomed was when the congregation showed an interest in them.
  • Sticky faith encourages churches to develop ‘Sticky Webs’ where at least 5 adults (of all ages) speak into the lives of every young person. Teenagers said they wanted MORE interaction with adults, not less!
  • Mentoring is a brilliant, biblical model for growth!

Quiz

  1. Why do young people go to youth group?  Because they want to be with their youth leaders.
  2. What % of teens said they felt their youth leader really knew them?  20%
  3. What did they want their youth leaders to help them with the most? Applying the Bible teaching to everyday life, especially suffering, why is the church so full of hypocrisy, and what does the bible say about sexuality, creation & evolution.
  4. What was the number one thing the teens said they wanted more of in their youth groups? More time for deep conversations, whereas more time for fun stuff was bottom of the list.
  5. Who had the stickiest faith in the end? Those that often talked about having doubts – especially does God exist, does God love me, is Christianity the only way to God.

Mentoring needs to start with children

Mentor Children

Mentoring has been a trendy area of youth work and youth ministry over the last decade, however I’m not convinced that most of us have realised the full potential of mentoring.

In the church where I work mentoring is an exciting, purposeful relationship that helps young people grow, develop,  learn and share the journey that is life. Some want to work through specific issues such as anger management; others just want somebody to talk to. Whatever the purpose, our mentoring scheme can help to create trusting and lifelong friendships for any young person.

Over the last decade I’ve seen lots of lives changed by mentoring – the changes in behaviour, self-esteem, spiritual maturity and more and it’s left me with one conclusion.  We need to start mentoring at a younger age.

We constantly hear the challenging and distressing statistics about how many young people are leaving the church.  There is lots of research about just why this is.  Most of the religious beliefs, behaviours and expectations that define a person’s life have been developed and embraced by the age of 13, according to Christian Research.  If there isn’t a firm foundation in the Bible and the Christian life before that, children are more susceptible to succumbing to peer pressure, to doubting the faith and seeing church life as alien to the real world.

The Sticky Faith research from Fuller Youth Institute shows that inter-generational contact in the church is critical for a child to developing a resilient faith.  Take a moment to think about your church. How does it ‘do’ children’s work?  Is it separated away from the youth and adult ministries?  One of the easiest ways to join them together is to have a mentoring scheme that includes children using a combination of young people acting as older sisters and brothers, and adults who can act as spiritual and pastoral parents and grandparents.

I want to challenge you not to see mentoring as a tool to work alongside older teenagers but to instead view as something that children, young people and adults all need to be involved in – both as mentees and mentors.

How do you do mentoring in your setting?

The Best Untapped Sticky Faith Resource in Your Church

grandma_teen

Fantastic article by Kara Powell on the untapped resources in church:

After I described Ruth and her amazing commitment to write one letter at the start of every fall to each high school graduate, an audience member raised his hand. I called on him, and he stood to explain, “I was here last night and saw Ruth talking to you. I know Ruth. We’re part of the same church. She doesn’t write those high school graduates once at the start of every fall. She writes them every week.” Maybe you’re thinking what I and many audience members said aloud that day: Wow. Ruth reminds us that there’s a group of people with untapped potential to don a jersey and join your family’s Sticky Faith team.

Kara goes on to talk about the role of grandparents.  It’s something we see really valuable at Dibden Churches – our aim is to have a grandparent figure in each of our children’s and youth groups.  We find they bring a different dynamic to our children’s and youth ministry?

How do you use older people in your ministry?

 

Twenty Ideas for Grandparents

grandma_teen

According to Dr. Vern Bengtson, from the University of Southern California, grandparents can take one of three paths in their religious influence:

  1. Grandparents can reinforce the parents’ religious influence,
  2. Grandparents can substitute for the parents’ influence, or finally
  3. Grandparents can subvert the parents’ influence.

As the second and third paths indicate, sometimes the faith of grandparents actually “skips” a generation as grandchildren end up following in their faith footsteps despite parents’ choices to walk away from faith.

To help families and leaders leverage the influence of grandparents, the Fuller Youth Institute decided to ask grandparents to share their best ideas to build Sticky Faith in their grandkids. Here are the most popular 20 ideas:

Ideas that can be done any day, any time

  • Invite your grandchildren for individual “sleepovers” at your house. While they are over, do some of their favorite activities together.
  • Pray with your grandkids. As you pray, thank God for the special qualities he has given them.
  • Teach your grandchild a new skill or one of your favorite hobbies, e.g. fishing, skiing, bicycling, jewelry making.
  • Let your grandchild teach you a new skill or share a hobby with you.
  • Enter a race and run/swim/ride or walk it with your grandchild.
  • Talk with your grandchild about a family tradition that you enjoyed with your own grandparents and/or parents, and have passed along to your children. Then continue that tradition with your grandchild. Examples could include seeing fireworks together or going to a parade, having campfires and roasting marshmallows on the beach, seeing the Nutcracker ballet or making tamales during the Christmas season, or riding bikes to a favorite ice cream place.
  • Bring out photo albums and talk about when your grandchild was born, how you prayed for them even before they were born, how excited you were to first hold him or her, and how blessed you feel that they are now part of your family.
  • Serve together at a local ministry.
  • Cook with your grandchildren. Play loud music and sing and cook (maybe even dance) together.
  • Build something with your grandchildren.
  • Share times when you have blown it, or disobeyed what you sensed God was telling you to do. Let them know how glad you are that Jesus is bigger than any mistakes.

Ideas for grandparents who live far away

  • Choose a book series to read with your grandchildren. Read to them using Skype, or as they get older and the books get longer, read them individually and then discuss the highlights of the book by phone.
  • Have breakfast together once a week using Skype or FaceTime.
  • Start a collection of something with your grandchild, e.g. dolls from other countries, interesting stones, coins, colored glass, and continue adding to the collection when you travel or when you are together.
  • Text them on an ordinary day and let them know you’re thinking about them.
  • Call or send a letter when kids have special events or milestones at school or church. For instance, while you may not be present for a baptism, calling your grandchild on that special day is still very memorable. The same can be true of soccer tournaments, school plays, or after a church retreat.

Ideas for vacations or extended time together

  • On extended family vacations, try to have morning or evening devotions that include questions that all family members can answer. This way the children hear their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins share on a deeper level.
  • If financially possible, at the age of 12 or 13, take your grandson/granddaughter on a weekend away with the other significant males/females (of the same gender as your grandchild) in your family, e.g. dad, mom, aunts, uncles, grandfather and grandmother. Have a planned activity that you’ll do together (skiing, hiking, going to a Broadway show, camping, etc.). Include time to discuss what it means to be a Christian man/woman. Give them something lasting that will remind them of things learned over the weekend and commitments that are made.
  • Have “Grand Camp” with your grandkids either at your house or another destination. Do things together that they’d do at camp—crafts, sports, singing, cooking, treasure hunts, etc. This could last one day or several days. Or find a camp that hosts weeks for grandparents and grandkids to come together, letting the camp plan the programming and details.
  • Go on a mission trip with your grandchild, either locally or abroad. Consider making this a rite of passage experience at a certain age with each grandchild.

Spring Harvest: Children’s Ministry – Fresh Thinking

The Source banner

These are my notes from the session on Children’s Ministry – Fresh Thinking  which was led by Alan Charter from Scripture Union.

Facts from the Today video (max7.org)

  • 50% of the world is young
  • 1/3 of children have not heard of Jesus

Issues in the room

  • Youth and children’s ministry is blossoming with 100 under 18s but no concessions for all-age worship?  What would the best possible faith journey look like?
  • Got no children but an opportunity in the local school.
  • Fair amount with families and children e.g., Messy Church, Toddler Groups, Open the Book, Experience Easter, Experience Christmas but how do we keep it all fresh rather than thinking we have it all sorted?
  • Recruiting volunteers is often an issue – we need to share it with the wider church, e.g. Deut. 6 & 11.

Are children a glass of water being poured into or fire

  • Flames to control
  • Vessels to be filled
  • Igniting
  • Dangerous!
  • Pots to be filled or flames to be fanned

Sometimes we focus too much on imparting knowledge and teaching to children.  Proverbs 22:6 shows it is important but if we are made in the image of God how do we release them to be who God wants them to be.

Craft can be really helpful for conversations, especially with boys, e.g. Carolyn Edwards, Slugs, Dogs and Puppy dogs tails!

How was it for you?

  • Aged 4
  • Aged 7
  • Aged 11

Think on the who, what, and how?

Relationships, stories, experiences, Gideon’s bible, prizes from Sunday school, being allowed to serve.

Fuller Institute – Sticky Faith

Models of ministry

  • Proclamation, e.g. Billy Graham
  • Programmes, e.g. Alpha
  • Presence, e.g. Loving our local school, being the body of Christ in our local community.