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.

Don’t Send Them Off to College Without Leads

Apr 17, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

Today’s guest post is from David Ludwig, Minister of Family Ministries at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA. St. Andrew’s is part of the 2013 Sticky Faith Cohort.

Sending the kids off to college isn’t fun.

And I’m not talking about my actual, biological kids. They’re only 5 and 3—a little too young to be sending away to school…unless it’s pre-school.

The kids that I dislike sending off to college are the High School seniors who have allowed the Student Ministry team and I to enter into their lives during their formative years. I mean, these are the seniors who we’ve known for at least 4 years:

  • The ones who we’ve seen at their best—and their worst.

  • The ones who we’ve led on countless trips.

  • The ones who have shown up at our doorsteps in difficult times.

  • The ones in which we’ve finally seen flashes of maturity in their last year with us.

  • The ones who we constantly tell that we are their “biggest fans.”

Those are the kids I don’t like sending off to college.

It’s no fun sending them off to college because once they’re gone, our relationships with them will never be the same as they once were; and the statistics communicate that up to half of them will walk away from any type of Christian community in their first 18 months. The temptations to run in a direction opposite from the Kingdom of God are everywhere in a college setting, and that doesn’t help as we endeavor to release them with a continued desire to pursue God with others.

Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying it’s bad to release seniors into young adulthood—in fact, I think it’s the best thing. It’s just not fun.

One of the things that our Student Ministry team began doing a few years back was to help make a connection between our graduating seniors and a solid Christian community at the university they would be attending. Our hopes were that this continued Christian community would help them learn to love and revere God and love and respect others—even during their college years, which can often be so frantic and disjointed.

It takes some investigation, some contact work, and it definitely eats up some time; however, we’ve decided that it’s worth it. The effort has proven to connect a lot of our graduates to strong Christian communities at a time in their lives when they need them the most. It also communicates to the students that we aren’t kicking them out of the doors of the church upon their graduation; we hope to communicate that while they may be done with high school ministry, we (as a church) aren’t done supporting them in their faith journey.

Sending my kids off to college is never easy; however, it’s a little easier when I know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ in any university or college town who are ready to embrace, love, and care for them as they wrestle with following Christ into this next season.

Try this free Sticky Faith Curriculum sample, How Do I See Myself After Graduation? 

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. 

Sticky Faith Every Day Week 3: Learning to Receive Grace

Feb 25, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

Suddenly it’s the third week of Lent. While we know the thousands of leaders who downloaded our free 8-week Sticky Faith Every Day Curriculum are using it in a variety of ways, we also want to highlight the ways the curriculum can line up with the season of Lent.

Yesterday I was sharing with a group of students and parents together at a church in Huntsville, Alabama. We watched this video about how hard it is to receive grace without treating it like a gift that has strings attached: 



I pulled a few questions from this discussion guide we created for the video, and had parents and students talking together about what it looks like in their families to live graciously toward one another.

One high school senior piped up during the discussion and shared how much it has meant to her that her parents find little ways to encourage their kids, like pointing out a strength or simply speaking a word of blessing before they leave for school in the morning. I love that her experience of grace includes receiving these simple gifts of encouragement from her parents. Free gifts, with no strings attached.

We also looked at the promise Paul shares in Ephesians 2, that we are saved by grace and out of that grace are invited to live a life as God’s handiwork—God’s work of art.

At the beginning of the morning we handed out red strings to each adult and teenager in the room. Later I asked each one to create something new out of that string—something that could remind them to live in gracious ways in their families and other relationships. I love thinking about the potential for strings that bind to become strings that set us free to live out good news in our relationships.

How have you used Sticky Faith Every Day resources, and what are you learning as students engage these themes?


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.

Do you wish you could think about your ministry calendar differently?

Jan 11, 2013 Fuller Youth Institute

This week in our Sticky Faith Every Day series we share an article by Steve Argue on Time and Place. Steve notes, 

The two go together. They must. And when they don’t, we know it.
You can be at the right place at the wrong time.
You can be in the wrong place at the right time. 

Youth ministry is about both. Yet often we fail to consider them well. How many times have you sat down to look at the ministry year and just overlaid the new calendar with last year’s events and programs? Could there be a better way to plan? 

Whether you’re doing evaluation and planning now or in the summer before the start of the new school year, you might find this little calendar tool helpful. We created it during our yearlong cohort looking at faith rhythms and practices. One of the realities that emerged was that youth workers often fail to think through the arc of the year and the path of spiritual formation they hope to lead students through across that arc of months and seasons. 

We asked youth workers to use this or make their own calendar and map out with their ministry teams looking month by month at: 

  • Teenager’s calendars – What’s most relevant in their lives during each season? When are major tests and end-of-term projects due? What athletics or other activities tend to draw students away in each month, or when are they more available?
  • Families’ calendars – How do parents tend to think about the family calendar, and how should that impact our planning? When would they like to get away or have down time at home? How can we better serve families?
  • Church calendar – Whether you follow the liturgical calendar of seasons or have rhythms of your own, your church energy and focus inevitably shift from month to month. How could paying attention to this calendar impact planning?
  • Youth ministry calendar – Now we can think about our youth ministry programming and events. Where do our pieces fit alongside the others? What does our calendar say about how we hope to engage students across each season? Alongside that…
  • Ways we notice & engage God – Very specifically, as a ministry, church, or within families, what do our rhythms of spiritual disciplines look like month to month? Can we equip students and adults to engage God through different practices in different seasons? What does that look like as we cycle through one year to the next?
  • Anything else that might be relevant to consider in a particular month – like a sabbatical, a volunteer retreat, or a local event that shifts your community’s focus.

Once you make your own calendar, wonder together about how place and time are interacting. Then consider what adjustments you might want to make to better align them. 

Feel free to download and use this calendar, or create something better and share your ideas with us! What have you found helpful in evaluating and planning your ministry calendar?

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).