How to Raise a Child With Faith That Sticks - No Dry Cleaner Families

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Nate Stratman, staff consultant with Ministry Architects, kicked off our Sticky Faith series on Sunday, September 21. Nate has been in full-time youth ministry for 14 years, and serves as a Director of Family Ministries in Colorado Springs.

Churches today face a tough reality, he said, and ours is no exception. Research says that more than half of today’s young adults who grew up in church leave the faith of their upbringing within 12-18 months of high school graduation. Sadly, nearly 80% did not plan for this to happen. Some eventually return, but many do not. If this doesn’t move us to reexamine what we’re doing as a church, we might want to check our spiritual pulse.

Nate suggested focusing on three areas:

  • Gospel: What gospel were they hearing?

Instead of reflecting a gospel of forgiveness because of the cross, many students had absorbed a message of behaviorism - a list of Dos and Don’ts by which they might gain acceptance.

  • Church: The church should view itself as a multi-generational family.

“If a young person is to borrow faith,” Nate said, “then we [the church family] must be strategic about the proximity of Christian adults who are willing to share that faith.” Certainly parents are primarily responsible for passing the torch to their children, but other engaged adults can play an invaluable role. The goal is that the church not have a good youth ministry, but that it be a good youth ministry. There is a world of difference.

  • Family: When it comes to children’s faith formation, parents can only pass on what they themselves possess.

There should be no “dry cleaner” youth ministry, in which the youth group is viewed similarly to the corner cleaners where rumpled clothing is dropped off and later picked up cleaned and pressed.

As adults, whether we’re actively parenting or not, perhaps we should reflect a bit on our own faith and practices and ask ourselves, “What gospel message do I really live by”? Is it centered on Jesus and the cross, or does it lean toward a list of Dos and Don’ts? What role am I taking in the ministry of St. John Lutheran Church and School? Am I engaged with the youth? Or do I look upon the church as I would a dry cleaner?

Join us the next three Sundays as we continue discussing the Sticky Faith series. Sign up by clicking the button below, and we will give you a free copy of the book.



Our Sticky Faith Seminar and Sunday Morning Group Study is made possible by our YMGI resource grant from the Indianapolis Center for Congregations. The Center is a non-profit organization committed to strengthening congregations through resource consulting, educational events and resource grants. The Indianapolis Center for Congregations is funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc. 




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