How Can I Help Parents Talk About Faith in the Midst of Normal Life?

While the average age of youth leaders is on the rise, many of you are likely not yet parents.  Or if you are parents, your kids are not yet teenagers, which is true of both of us.

Like you, one of the great benefits of our experience in youth ministry is the hundreds of families we have closely observed.  Regardless of your age or life stage, one of the best ways to cast a vision in your ministry for family faith discussions is to share stories of other innovative parents—either stories of parents in your ministry or stories of parents like those below. During the course of our research, our FYI team has been continually impressed with parents’ creativity in planting that same DNA in their own families.  In most cases, parents are simply weaving faith conversations through the everyday events of life (i.e., you’re going to have breakfast anyway, right?).

Breakfast Dates

One member of our team, Dr. Cheryl Crawford, talked with one dad of four daughters who took each of them out for a one-on-one breakfast date every week.  Yes, that’s four breakfast dates every week.  And he did that with them throughout middle school and high school.

Dinner Questions

On nights our (Kara’s) family has dinner together, we have a tradition of sharing our “highs” and “lows” of the day.  Because of what we’ve learned about Sticky Faith, we’ve added a third question:  how did you see God at work today?

The first time we added that question to our conversation, our seven year-old said quickly, “But I can’t answer that question.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because I don’t have a job.”

Once we explained that we meant, “How did you see God working today?” she realized she could be part of the discussion.

Often our kids don’t have an answer to that question, and that’s OK.  In fact, more important than the kids answering that question is that they hear Dave and me answer that question every day. 

Dr. Kara E. Powell is executive director at Fuller Youth Institute and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. She is the co-author of Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids Series (Zondervan, Sept. 2011). Dr. Powell has also authored or co-authored several books, including Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, and Help! I’m a Woman in Youth Ministry. She is the general editor for The Fuller Youth Institute E-Journal and regularly speaks at conferences and seminars. She lives with her husband and three children in Pasadena, California.


Dr. Chapman “Chap” Clark is Vice Provost for Regional Campuses and Masters Programs and Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. Chap’s extensive publication of books, articles and videos focus primarily on relationships. Among his many books are Hurt 2.0, When Kids Hurt, Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World (co-authored with his wife, Dee), and Deep Justice in a Broken World. He is the co-author of Sticky Faith: Everyday Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Your Kids Series (Zondervan, Sept. 2011). Chap and Dee currently live in Gig Harbor, Washington.

 


[1] Christian Smith with Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching:  The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (New York:  Oxford Press, 2005), 56.

[2] Listen to the “Soul Searching” panel discussion from March 2008 at the FYI website: http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/2008/03/soul-searching-panel/

[3] Search describes their study of 11,000 teenagers from 561 congregations across 6 denominations in the Search Institute research report, Effective Christian Education:  A National Study of Protestant Congregations, 1990.