A Simple But Underused Key in Building Sticky Faith:  Your Own Testimony

Kara Powell

If you’ve heard me or one of our team members talk about Sticky Faith, odds are good that you’ve heard us share about the power of us as adults sharing about our own spiritual journeys.  So often in families or in youth ministries, we lecture or interview young people about God.  What’s missing in many families and ministries is an important factor in building Sticky Faith:  that we as adults share organically about what God has done in our past and is doing in our present. 

One of the churches in our Sticky Faith Cohort that was particularly interested in this research decided to ask 20 heavily churched students if they knew how their parents became Christians.  Care to guess how many knew their parents’ testimony? 

I’ll give you a hint:  it starts with a Z. 


When I shared this story at a Family Camp recently, it seemed to hit home with the parents attending.  The next morning after breakfast, one mom came up to me very excited because for the first time ever, she had shared with her sons how and why she decided to follow Jesus.  It was a spiritual moment with pancakes and sausage to boot. 

Whether you’re a parent or a youth leader, how can you look for opportunities to share your own testimony, or at least parts thereof? 

1. Bridges between your experience and theirs.  Do your best to avoid any phrasing that sounds like “When I was your age…”  (That’s almost guaranteed to be greeted by eye rolls in response.)  Instead, point out ways that you can relate to what a young person is going through.  Start by saying something like, “I went through the same thing in high school…”   If the young person seems at all interested in hearing more (you will know immediately by their facial expression – trust me on this one), walk through that open door. 

2. Car rides.  If I had a dollar for every parent who told me their best conversations with their kids happened in the car, I would be wealthy.  Maybe your kids (and you!) need to spend less time texting or talking on cell phones so that you have more chances to bring up what God has done in your life. 

3. Letting Your Kids Catch You Being a Bit “Spiritual”.  If your kids see you reading the Bible, share a few verses with them (perhaps asking them first, “Would you like to hear what I’m learning about these days?”).  If your kids hear you listening to worship music, explain why the song about God’s holiness is especially meaningful to you.  

The good news is that much of our “testimony sharing” can be done in the cracks of everyday life – if we keep our eyes and ears sensitive both to the Spirit and to our kids.  

In what other ways or times have you been able to share parts of your testimony with kids?

Published Sep 10, 2012
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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