Most churches in America would give anything to develop a deep, growing faith in kids that “sticks” and continues to mature long-term. That interest is dwarfed only by parents’ desire to develop a deep, growing faith in their own kids.

Yet both national leaders with broad spheres of influence as well as local, grassroots practitioners are waking up to the reality that almost half of their graduating seniors struggle deeply with their faith in college.  Offering a few special “Senior Seminars” or giving seniors a “graduation Bible” and hoping for the best are both too little and too late.

In response to this problem, the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) has conducted the College Transition Project, a national longitudinal study following over 500 high school seniors during their first three years in college.  The goals of this research are to understand the dynamics of youth group graduates’ transition to college and to identify the relationships and best practices in youth ministries, churches, and families that can help set students on a trajectory of lifelong faith and service.

FYI’s research confirms that it’s never too early or too late to start developing faith that continues to grow and lasts.  Sticky Faith gives parents and leaders both a theological/philosophical framework and a host of practical relationship and programming ideas that develop long-term faith in teenagers.

Defining Sticky Faith

The goal of this movement is to help teenagers develop Sticky Faith.  By “Sticky Faith” we mean a combination of characteristics, all of which exist in a dynamic tension…

  • Faith that is both internalized and externalized: a faith that is part of a student’s inner thoughts and emotions, and is also externalized in choices and actions that reflect that faith commitment.  These behaviors include regular attendance in a church/campus group, prayer and Bible reading, service to others, and lower participation in risk behaviors, in particular sex and alcohol (two behaviors we are studying specifically).  In other words, Sticky Faith involves whole-person life integration, at least to some degree.
  • Faith that is both personal and communal: a faith that celebrates God’s specific care for each person while always locating faith in the global and local community of the Church.
  • Faith that is both mature and maturing: a faith that shows marks of spiritual maturity but is also in process of growth.  We don’t assume a high school senior or college freshman (or a youth worker for that matter) will have a completely “mature” faith.  We are all in process.

To find out more about Sticky Faith, click here.