What was your favorite bedtime story when you were a kid?

Apr 23, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

Today’s guest post is from Kevin Becht, Area Director of Youth for Christ/Campus Life in Southern Indiana.

What was your favorite bedtime story when you were a kid?

My favorite was a classic story from my grandfather.

I was primarily raised by my grandparents. When bedtime came, I would lie on top of my grandfather’s bed, begging him to tell me stories of his childhood. My favorite was of the time he was sprayed by a skunk as he checked his box-traps on his way to school (uphill, both ways, in the snow I am sure).

The stories were simple, and not all of them stuck with me. But there was just something powerful about knowing that he knew what it was like to be a boy my age. You see, my grandfather was a World War II marine vet (those are stories he seldom told). He was still incredibly fit in his early 50s. His work ethic was amazing. I definitely put him on a very high pedestal. The stories he would tell made me realize he was human. He was like me. They made me realize I too had a story. They created a hunger in me to know others’ stories. Looking back on the fact that I didn't have a dad in the picture, these stories were even more vital to me knowing my own story.

Today, as I think back to that skunk story, I realize what was really happening as my grandfather told those stories. Ultimately, it created a desire in me to know God's Story, and for me, the stories of Jesus were the Father's "when I was a boy" stories. I understood that he was God on my level, because I had grown up hearing about Grandpa on my level. My family narrative was vital not only to my success as a person, but also to my knowing God's Story was for me.

I have come to realize that My Story is not just my "Christian Testimony," but that it truly is my "family narrative." With or without Jesus, the family we are born into shapes our story, and it is a story we should really get to know.

Here are a few suggestions to encourage family narratives in our homes and ministries:

  • Encourage the students in your ministry to seek out their “Family Narrative.” Challenge them to see who can find the most bizarre story from a parent, grandparent, or even a great-grandparent if they are still around. Then have a coffee house night of story sharing.

  • Seek out more of your own family narrative. On your next day off, spend some time visiting with an older family member if you live nearby. If not, I’m sure they would love a phone call.

  • Pass on your own family narrative to your own children, as well as the students in your ministry. Throughout my twenty-plus years of ministry, students still love to laugh at some of the silliest stories I have told over the years about my own life. Sometimes they surprise me with what they remember. Hopefully it builds a hunger for paying close attention to their own stories.

How we’re revitalizing Confirmation

Mar 28, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

Photo by Gonzalo Díaz Fornaro.

Today’s story is from Lauren Eden, Student Ministry Associate at Mt Bethel United Methodist Church near Atlanta, GA. Mt Bethel is part of our 2013 Sticky Faith Cohort.

It’s a call every youth minister receives countless times a year. “Would you mind talking to my child about ____? They’d much rather talk to you than me.” 

I have spent 10 years working in Youth Ministry, and every time I receive one of these calls it makes me feel good that a parent trusts me with their child’s spiritual growth. 

However, every time I say “yes” to a request like this, I realize that I’m doing that student and their parent a disservice. The sad truth is that many parents are dropping their kids off for us to “sanitize them for Jesus” and then send them home to be more well behaved, respectful, moral citizens.

After becoming a parent myself, I’ve realized that I want to be the biggest influence in my kids’ lives. Not only that, but God calls me to point them toward Jesus every day through everything that I say and do. I pray for godly role models to come alongside my husband and I as we raise them, but my greatest desire is that our own conversations about Jesus start at a very young age and continue into adulthood.  

I serve in a Methodist church, and in our denomination “Confirmation” is a big step in helping young people explore and own their own faith.  In our context it consists of several weeks of classes and training in who Jesus is, spiritual gifts, church history, and other important topics that help students explore their own personal relationships with Jesus Christ. The goal is for every student to understand what their faith is all about before joining the church.

Because of the tradition and nature of Confirmation, I’ve seen many students come through the class, join the church, and never get connected to the Student Ministry or the church body as a whole. As a result, they drop off after their Confirmation experience in middle school. Then on Senior Sunday those same students come back and stand in front of the church when they’re about to go off to college or into the work world. I know they really don’t have a church home to come back to at all. 

This began to burden our hearts as a staff, and we began to talk about how we could stop the bleed-out that takes place every year following Confirmation. In an attempt to combat this head on, our staff decided to try to do something a little bit different with Confirmation. 

  • We rewrote the curriculum in an attempt to make connecting with Jesus the most important topic we cover. 

  • We added a small group component to Confirmation so that students are connected with two other adults in the church other than their parents. 

  • We also attempted to add a parent component to the class designed to help equip parents to talk to their kids about faith. One of our pastors led a parent class and taught parents the material the students would be learning the next week so that they were ready to have discussions at home. 

  • Finally, we added a family week to the curriculum where we canceled Confirmation class that Sunday and asked parents to lead their students at home. For their at home “assignment” we wrote a short discussion for the parents to lead the students in, which they were trained to do ahead of time in the parent class. Then we encouraged both parents and students to fill out a “Relationship Map” (really, just a timeline from birth to their current age) that describes significant spiritual milestones in both the parent’s life and the student’s life. The goal was for them to recognize how far they’ve come on their spiritual journeys individually, and then to be able to share their journeys with one another. 

At first we wondered whether or not this exercise would be well received, but then we realized that even if one parent takes it seriously, we’re one step closer to that parent becoming a significant spiritual influence in their kid’s life. 

We were excited about creating an environment where faith talks could happen naturally. And guess what happened? The students came back the following week actually knowing their parents’ stories, having new insights into milestones in their own faith journeys, and having had the opportunity to share their own testimonies with their parents. 

I can’t say that we have this whole “sticky faith” thing figured out, but I can say that this is one way that we’re headed in the right direction. I look forward to the day when I can have this invaluable time talking with my kids about their faith, and helping them realize the importance of owning their own walk with Christ. 

Do you have a Confirmation program in your ministry? What are you doing differently to make it more “sticky”?

A Sticky Faith Web

Mar 13, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

Today’s guest post is from Scott Ness, Associate Pastor at St John’s Lutheran Church in Grove City, Ohio. Scott’s studying building “faith webs” as part of his Doctor of Ministry project and living it out in his home and church.

Last April, my 2 nieces moved into our home. 

My wife and I were already stretched thin raising our 4 children. We quickly found ourselves loving, caring for, disciplining, transporting, and raising children who were 8, 7, 6, 3, and 3 years old plus a 6 month old. We called in some reinforcements. 

We were certainly concerned about instilling Sticky Faith in each of our kids.  But we also had a more pressing concern: survival. For the kids and for us! We needed help. We wanted to be intentional. We wanted to pick specific people to be in each of their lives.

The congregation I serve has developed a concept we call The Faith Web.  A Faith Web is a constellation of people who willingly and lovingly surround you with faith. It expands, or at least builds upon, the 5:1 ratio that the FYI team writes about in Sticky Faith. Our vision is to wrap our young people in a web of faithful youth, young adults, adults and grandparents. 

Every church has warts and things we wish we could change. But more importantly, your church is also packed full of people who have incredible stories and experiences about what it means to love Jesus.  I want my kids to know those people and hear those stories.  The Faith Web is the vehicle that helps us make these connections happen. 

Oma is a widowed pastors wife. She reeks of Jesus! And every morning she prays for my children.  Every Tuesday she sits down with my niece Summer at the piano bench to teach her how to make music. Oma has confessed multiple times that she is not the best teacher.  And Summer is far from the best student.  But the music they make is the most precious sound. Oma is helping Summer play the song that Jesus has placed within her. Oma is in our Faith Web.

Every summer the high school youth group goes to a leadership academy. Before they leave town, they gather in the sanctuary to be matched up with a grade school student. These new pairs are prayer buddies. They commit to pray for one another all week and even exchange letters while the older ones are at camp. My son Ethan was matched up with a high school student named Jamie. This past Halloween, my wife and I were sick. It was Jamie who saved the day. He came over, and with a smile on his face and in his heart, he led all the kids door to door. Jamie is also the one that my kids sit next to in worship while I’m up front and my wife is busy elsewhere.  Jamie is in our Faith Web.

Who’s in your Faith Web? That is, who are the people who are influencing your life, building your faith, and walking with you? Likewise, in whose Faith Web are you living? Who are you influencing, helping, praying for, and walking with everyday?

Intergenerational Pen Pals

Mar 06, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

Today’s guest post is from Todd Rosspencer, Pastor for High Schoolers at Redlands Church, a Fuller grad, and part of the 2013 Sticky Faith Cohort.

Last Spring I became the new youth pastor at a church that boasts having a family feel, but struggles to connect the older and younger generations. Two weeks in, I was invited to a luncheon held for all the retirees in the congregation. Gladly accepting the invitation, I pondered how this could benefit both the old folks AND the youth. Then a divine coincidence occurred.

A few days before the luncheon I came across an article about a man who received 3-4 letters a week from his mother while he served in the Korean War. He was so deeply impacted by that loving support as a young man that later in life he decided to write letters to young people. He contacted a private university that empowers dozens of students a year as teaching missionaries. He acquired their contact info and wrote them all letters. Since then, he has written hundreds of letters to youth all over the globe.

Needless to say, I didn’t need to pray and fast before contacting the luncheon organizer. I asked permission to make an appeal to our retirees to become pen-pals to some teens in our ministry. He loved the idea and off we went to eat.

At the luncheon I spoke of the culture of abandonment in which today’s youth struggle to find adult support, modeling, and mentoring. We juxtaposed the teen life of 50 years ago against teen life today. Then I asked them to consider adopting a teenager and writing that young person one letter a month until Jesus comes. Seven adults signed up and began writing.

The parents responded first, expressing gratitude for the ways these older adults were loving and supporting their children. We heard about mixed responses from the kids. Some were disinterested or even miffed and discarded their letters. Some were intrigued. And some were deeply touched. Then we started hearing back from a few retirees who had received letters in return. Like a seed in April, it was beginning to sprout!

That was last year. Today I called Irwin, one of our older pen-pals, to update him on his 15-year old pen-pal Jay who has not responded to any of Irwin’s letters. 

Jay’s dad is dying of brain cancer, and Jay is struggling to cope. After updating Irwin, I got shivers as he gently spoke of losing his mother when he was 16. The tender story revealed how he knew what Jay was enduring. Then Irwin said he’d write another letter this week.  

Upon hanging up the phone, I prayed a prayer of gratitude. God put this relationship together, not me. And God is using this little pen-pal ministry to bring hope and healing in surprising ways. 

Lent, Sex, and Noticing God

Feb 13, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

It’s Ash Wednesday. One of my favorite days of the year. 

Not because I’m morbid, but because I’ve grown to love the way Lent invites us to notice God in different ways. In particular through disciplines of abstinence. We often like making fun of this—like Twitter’s top 100 list of things people give up for Lent—but fasting is deeply rooted in Christian and Jewish history. 

Which brings us to sex. It made the top 10 list of what folks gave up for Lent last year, trumped by Facebook, alcohol, Twitter itself, and of course chocolate (the favorite American default for Lent). And this year, Valentines Day is the day after Ash Wednesday. Given youth ministries’ propensity to do “Love, sex, and dating” series during February, I’m wondering how this year’s placement might instruct our approach to both Lent and sexuality. 

Both might be opportunities to notice God more. This is precisely the theme behind our free 8-week curriculum Sticky Faith Every Day. Is it possible there are endless ways God is trying to capture our attention? Is it possible that our lives are so filled with distraction that we’re often missing something deeper God wants us to notice? We think the answer is yes. And perhaps human sexuality is one of the ways God wants us to notice and celebrate his goodness, creativity, and wonder. 

Perhaps rather than guilt, shame, or close doors to young people’s experiences of wrestling with their sexuality, we can name and embrace it as part of the complex nature of God’s revelation to us. 

That doesn’t mean we gloss over the brokenness that accompanies our sexuality, or the ways teenagers and adults misuse, misunderstand, and abuse sex. Not to mention how frustrating it can be to be young, unmarried, and attempting to honor God with your body. But young people often hear these messages so strongly from the church that to suggest we might actually notice God through our sexuality seems almost absurd. 

So maybe rather than letting Lent and Valentine’s Day seem worlds apart, we can help the teenagers in our lives make peace with both this week. Even if they’re giving up chocolate.



Don’t miss out on the free curriculum we designed to be used alongside Lent. And if you’re using it, be sure to share your ideas with us!

Free Webcast with Mark Yaconelli (Rescheduled!)

Feb 07, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

Tuesday February 12, 2013

Tune in here at 11:00 am Pacific to watch the live webcast!

Join us as we interview author and speaker Mark Yaconelli about creatively engaging teenagers in prayer and other spiritual disciplines. No need to register, just check back in around 11am and we'll be broadcasting live!

Here's a post Brad wrote about some of Mark's insights on engaging God. 

WATCH LIVE HERE AT 11AM PST. In the mean time, enjoy our latest video in the Sticky Faith Every Day Series, and check out the discussion guide too.




Add your own questions in the comment stream below, or live tweet them in to @fullerFYI or @stickyfaith during the webcast!




About Mark

Mark Yaconelli is the author of four books including Contemplative Youth Ministry and Wonder, Fear, and Longing. He serves as the Project Director for the Center for Engaged Compassion. He lives in Southern Oregon with his wife and three children.

Free Webcast with Margaret Feinberg Today

Jan 22, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute


Tune in here at 1:00 pm Pacific to watch the live webcast!

Join us as author and speaker Margaret Feinberg shares in our Sticky Faith Every Day series. Margaret will be sharing about her new book and study series Wonderstruckand offering insights on engaging God in both creative and ordinary ways. Read a post from Kara on Margaret's work here.


Just before 1:00pm the player below will be replaced with the live webcast player. Until then, enjoy our Notice video for the Sticky Faith Every Day series! Find a free discussion guide here.



Add your own questions in the comment stream below, or live tweet them in to @fullerFYI or @stickyfaith during the webcast!


Tomorrow (Wednesday January 23) you can tune in again at 11am Pacific time to watch another live webinar with author and speaker Mark Yaconelli.

Here's a post Brad wrote about some of Mark's insights on engaging God. 


About Margaret

Margaret Feinberg ( is a popular Bible teacher and speaker at churches and leading conferences such as Catalyst, Thrive and Extraordinary Women. Her books and Bible studies include Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God, Scouting the Divine: My Search for Wine, Wool, And Wild Honey, and The Organic God: Falling in Love All Over Again. Follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.

How can time be our friend this year?

Jan 07, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

How often do you think about time as your friend? 

We use all kind of words to talk about time and the ways we experience it:

  • Wasting time
  • Just in time
  • Take your time
  • Managing time
  • Time is money (and therefore we can “spend,” “make,” “burn,” “invest” it)
  • I don’t have time

 Most of our talk about time is negative. 

But can time also be our friend? Can it be a companion on our journey? And can our approach to time help us create rhythms in which to pace our lives and our ministries differently this year?

Author Dorothy Bass urges, “We need to learn a richer language than the language of [time] management. We need to develop life patterns that get us through our days not only with greater efficiency but also with greater authenticity as human beings created in God’s image.” 1  

These questions are some of the questions behind the new Sticky Faith Every Day series we will begin releasing this week. Part of why we’re so excited to share this curriculum and set of resources is because we need them ourselves

We need reminders to think about time differently. 

We need reminders to consider how we notice God in the midst of moments, days, weeks, and seasons.

We need to start the new year considering how we pace our lives alongside God’s pace for us. 

Will you join us in this quest? 

What helps you think about—and live within—time in more hopeful ways? How do you help young people do the same?


  1. Dorothy Bass, Receiving the Day: Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000), xiii).

Top Sticky Faith Posts of 2012

Dec 21, 2012 Fuller Youth Institute

It’s the time of year for “top” lists. If you love them, we’ve got them for you! Here and on our FYI blog we’re posting the top five posts from 2012 based on your response. 

We’re excited for all that is to come in 2013 (like our Every Day curriculum releasing in January!) so please stay connected through our free FYI E-Journal.

1.     How do I see myself after graduation? - Free sample from our Sticky Faith Teen Curriculum

2.     Sticky Faith Calendar Prompts - Subscribe to these calendars to add calendar reminders throughout the year for youth workers and parents who want to invest in kids’ faith

3.     Dare to Disciplines - Spiritual practices to lead teenagers toward deeper faith

4.     Anxiety in the in-between stages of our lives - Healthy strategies for coping with transitions straight from a marriage and family therapist

5.     Spiritual growth through self-authorship - Recasting the way we think about faith formation in young people

PS: If you’re reading this before January 1, it’s not too late to give to the year-end matching gift and double your impact on teenagers’ lives!

Exciting Sticky Faith Highlights from 2012

Dec 19, 2012 Fuller Youth Institute

Thanks to your partnership, financial support, and prayers, the Lord has dramatically impacted teenagers and created great momentum in the Sticky Faith Movement in 2012. Some of the highlights of impact in this last year include:


  1. 40,000 leaders and parents gained practical ideas through FYI’s award-winning Sticky Faith books and curriculum.
  2. 15,000 leaders and parents benefited from dynamic in-person Sticky Faith training.
  3. 28 churches have been trained through our yearlong Sticky Faith cohort.
  4. 25 top urban leaders are being equipped through our top-notch Urban Youth Ministry Certificate program.
  5. 10,000 subscribers were resourced semi-monthly through our acclaimed FYI E-Journal.

Our prayerful expectation is that 2013 will be even better than 2012. We are launching two new Sticky Faith Cohorts, a new Urban Youth Ministry Certificate cohort, revising our website to be even more helpful, and rolling out two new Sticky Faith resources!

  • Sticky Faith Every Day: Free curriculum for churches and youth ministries, coming in January 2013.
  • Sticky Faith Parent Resource:  Ideas from 40 amazing families that any family can try, coming in Spring 2013. 

It takes a team to develop these innovative resources. That is why we are asking you to prayerfully consider a year-end gift that even more young people develop lifelong faith next year. Thanks to a generous matching gift from a friend of FYI, every dollar that comes in to support the work of FYI before December 31st will double. 

That means your gift of $25 or $50 will double to $50 or $100 and have twice the impact on kids for the kingdom!

We hope you will spread the Sticky Faith movement in 2013 and beyond with a gift today. Remember, all gifts made before December 31st (up to $50,000) will be matched dollar for dollar to have twice the impact!

In Christ together,
Kara Powell and the FYI team