Today’s guest blogger is Brian Dietz, Youth and Family Pastor of Highrock Church in Arlington, MA. Their team is developing a Milestones program to highlight transition moments throughout kids’ growth, and Brian shared this story related to one of their milestone events.
I find “sticky” to be a fitting word not only to encapsulate the lasting faith we hope to pass on, but the mess that can ensue as we attempt to try out new forms of “sticky” ministry.
After reading Sticky Faith I was thrilled to invite the juniors and seniors in our group on a weekend retreat to interact with the Sticky Faith Teen Curriculum. But after getting lots of initial interest and commitments, when the week of the retreat came, many backed out and I was down to just three students who were able to attend. We decided to cancel the retreat and just do an overnight locally. Apparently my enthusiasm was not translating to the students well. I was very discouraged.
Thankfully, our whole staff team is committed to supporting our teens and when I shared my frustration with them two days before the retreat, they started brainstorming how to salvage the sticky mess we had. Despite having no budget for it, our lead pastor suggested we go all out with the students who were planning to attend and let them experience some tangible expressions of our blessing.
Staying local allowed five girls to join us for the Saturday evening portion of the weekend. I secretly alerted their parents that they needed to send a permission slip and have the girls bring a nice dress to go out in. We started with a few games, then had a dinner together at one of the youth leader’s homes. The girls kept trying to guess what the secret was all about.
After dinner, I asked all the girls to go get dressed up. We then started into the first session in the Sticky Faith Teen Curriculum entitled “What’s the Real Gospel?” As I had them read through Ephesians 2, I disappeared and grabbed a single long stem rose for each of them and talked about how God’s grace is a beautiful gift that we do nothing to deserve, but he delights in offering it freely.
At the end of the lesson I explained that in the midst of a world where we are constantly having to perform to receive love, God wants to offer us lavish love that is unconditional. We then led the girls out to a stretch limousine. They were completely in awe. We gave sparkling cider toasts to our grace-filled God and then drove to enjoy fancy desserts at a well-known desserterie called Finale – a fitting title for an experience we hope serves as a tasty grand finale of faith-building as they enter college!
The girls couldn’t stop thanking us all night. And the next morning we were all set to connect our evening experience to the second lesson in the curriculum on building our identities in Christ. My favorite comment from the weekend was from one girl who said she couldn’t believe that the church cared that much about teenagers to offer such a great evening for them.
I don’t know how others have fared in applying Sticky Faith practices to their ministries. In particular I would love to know how people have used the teen curriculum and gain buy-in from their upperclassmen for Sticky Faith. Overall, I hope to continue being intentional with our juniors and seniors and making it very clear that our church and our God love them deeply and want them to know God’s grace for their lives.