This post was previously shared at Fuller Youth Institute's Blog (on 10/14/13):
Very little these days makes me happier than the sound of Christians reclaiming their voice and place as “The Village” for teenagers. The conversations related to Sticky Faith and integrating students into the life of the church are picking up speed like a snowball rolling downhill. Leaders are getting it. Parents are embracing it. Students are loving it. Churches are claiming it.
A movement has begun.
Change is coming.
Yet if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about change, it’s that understanding does not equal transformation. As leaders or parents or pastors, we may recognize change is necessary in our churches in order to change the statistic of fifty percent of students who leave their faith after high school.
However, systemic change takes a long time. People don’t change because of a statistic, a heart-warming story, or even a compelling vision. As leadership guru John Kotter says, “leaders typically fail to acknowledge that large-scale change can take years.”
Simply because someone cognitively believes teenagers must be integrated into the life of the church doesn’t mean they automatically will be integrated without resistance or struggle. Merely because a parent understands that five adults pouring into their adolescent is a good goal doesn’t translate into new relational patterns.
Understanding does not equal a transformation in behavior. We may carry the theology of the Body of Christ, but when push comes to shove our practice often has a long way to go.
As our church has been working these concepts out over the past several years, we’ve experienced this reality. In Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker, I share our church’s journey and invite readers into their own unique journey of working out the vision God has given the church.
Theologically and theoretically, we all want the same thing: We want to see teenagers walk with Jesus for a lifetime. But when theology and theory meet everyday life and Sundays at church, we resist. Dr. Scott Cormode, a professor at Fuller Seminary who is part of the Sticky Faith Cohort training team, reminds us that people do not resist change; they resist loss.
So whenever change is difficult for us, we must dig deeper into why we are resisting that change.
When leaders address the losses at stake, often the resistance will evaporate. The future of the church demands that we lead change well. One of the many reasons I love the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) is their commitment to address change in ways that move beyond understanding and lead congregations into transformation. The Sticky Faith Launch Kit is a practical way to move theology and theory into hands-on practicality for those of us in the trenches of leading change. The highly personal and relational approach FYI has taken with the Launch Kit, online discussion forums, and direct coaching options are proof this conversation matters.
Come join us, and get on board this snowball that’s becoming an unstoppable force.