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How Parents Can Help Young People Avoid ‘Faith Drift’

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy
The Truth Network Radio
August 23, 2018 12:00 pm

How Parents Can Help Young People Avoid ‘Faith Drift’

Family Policy Matters / NC Family Policy

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August 23, 2018 12:00 pm

NC Family President John L. Rustin speaks with Brad Griffin, Associate Director of the Fuller Youth Institute, which focuses on providing research, resources, and support to churches who want their youth ministry programs to help young people develop a fruitful, and long-lasting faith.

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Parent talking about their own faith actually help their kids. This is only policymakers with NC family Pres. John Weston joining us this week for family policy matters. Today will be hearing about an innovative research driven approach to helping prevent faith drift among younger generations are guest today is Brad Griffin, associate director of the four youth Institute, which focuses on providing research resources and support to churches who want their youth ministry programs to help young people develop a fruitful and long-lasting faith. Brad and his colleagues at the four youth Institute focus on translating research into practical resources for youth leaders, particularly through their sticky face line of training and resources. They also have published a new book called glowing young six essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church Brad welcome to family policy matters.

It's great to have you with us on the show now my pleasure to be here. Brad, as we begin, let's set the stage for our discussion talk for a minute if you will about the trends you were seeing among America's younger generations as far as faith and church engagement is concerned. How do the younger generations of today compare with their parents and their grandparents when they were young, really great question. You know, apparently a lot of parents and grandpa are concerned about this question because the a lot of shifts and and one of the things that has really kind of driven people's concern of the last decade or so is the research that shows that about one out of two young people who are involved in the church during high school, walk away from God and the church within the first 12 to 18 months after graduation.

And you know that's that can be alarming.

Certainly, for those of us in ministry and for any of us who are parents or grandparents.

But that's coupled with the trend that church attendance overall is on the decline in our country and churches are aging.

The average attendance you know in your average church across the country is aging and shrinking and wanted to come to understand that a little bit better will. Interesting. Are there any explanations or theories on the why behind this drop in faith yeah well there's a lot of things we can wonder about singly the event of massive cultural shift about the role of the church in society and the fifth they have been cultural shift that that kind of align with the growth of affluence as well and a culture where there's a lot more joy about what to do with your time and entertainment options. But there's a another cut a piece of that national study of youth and religion really one of the larger sociological studies of young people in faith the past decade or so it one of the things they said is that the young people really are mirroring adult faith adult faith that really is kind of compartmentalized and tends to be that easy for young people to walk away from and some in some sense because it kind of an anemic state. So I think in some ways this is about young people and in some ways it's about buses about adults in their lives that other couple of things it one of the other trends. This that in the path books were getting married, having children, much younger. Now it average age of first childbirth average age of first marriage. Both of those are nearing 30 for the first time and in our history, and more more people are choosing not to get married than ever before and more people are not having children so those triggers tend to be also withdraw all young people back to church. Historically they're not happening are there happening much later, so at least this decade or more of time when with some of those cultural forces that might have drawn people and are not are not present. Tell us about the sticky face program. I love that name how to come to be. What are its goals and what kind of results would be seen. So for yeah well you know we went after this research because we weren't satisfied with some of the statistics in Trenton and we are a research-based resourcing organization.

We believe in him, people we believe in the church. We want the church and the family thinks demonic helping young people have lasting say lifelong faith that we began to call sticky faith. So while back we began a three-year research project that was really kind of the court sticky faith. We track with 500 young people across the transition from high school, college, and all of that up with the mother studies and studies of families that's really what sticky faith emerged out event and we found that the leaders and parents and churches are really hungry to come around this problem and more portly to come around young people and support them and help them develop that kind of faith.

Many parents may start to panic a bit. It's time for their children to go off to college or start their careers for fear that they will succumb to either religious apathy which is addressed somewhat or outright hostility toward the Christian faith in our culture that is so pervasive, what should parents be doing to help their children develop a deep growing faith that will stick with them throughout their lives.

And when should parents start to do that. Well, you know, I mean the good news is it's it's really never too late to start talking about faith more in the family, but we have so much more leverage when we start sooner, and one of the realities of the research. When you when you look across the span of research on young people in faith, parent are the number one influence on their kids and you know whether we believe that or not. Whether we believe it or not an adolescent, you know, even in adolescence when other influences become the Wharton and young people's lives parental faith. This bill is still very important. A lot of parents know kind of give up that leverage without influence in those teenage years and you know one thing we found is we've learned a lot from parents who just hang in there with their kids and and and remember that their influence still matters is that while parents are the number one influence on faith. A lot of parents don't talk about their faith much with their kids, but those who do research shows that parents talk about their own faith actually helps their kids faith grow and unfortunately a lot of parents may feel like if I take you make it to church or I'm involving them in youth programs.

That's enough. And those are all wonderful things to do, but if we are silent at home around their own tables and in our own cars about faith and the impact it has on our life that silence really speaks volumes to our kids more than whatever else we do to involve them in religious activities.

So we will encourage parents talk with kids. Talk about your own faith.

Don't just interrogate them about what you do it youth. But allow your kids into your own story and even maybe your own questions and struggles about faith particular with older teenagers know and we heard from one parent who said you know our son came back from college and a lot of his friends were really struggling with their faith and we asked how that event for him. He said well you know I've had some new questions, new things that have come up, but I remember dad talking about.

He went through a season as a young adult I knew that it was okay. I knew that I knew that it was okay to have these kinds of questions and and so it had been at is rocky for him simply because his parents actually showed a little bit about their own journey you're listening to a resource to listen to our radio show online resources that will be a voice of persuasion in your community to our website and see around.

I know your new book, growing young look specifically at about 250 churches across the country as you were doing research in your studies into this. What kinds of churches were included in your review and what did you learn the great news is we were studying what we call bright spots churches. So in the midst of some of the bad news about churches on the decline in America. These were bright but they were diverse churches from across the country all different sizes and ethnicities that were nominated because they were doing well with engaging young people, and specifically aged 15 to 29 that high school post high school and emerging adult phase. These churches were growing not only in reaching young people, but in their overall vitality and life because they were educating young people well that was really the heart of our study was really start by one of the books major findings which really deemed to be a bit counterintuitive. I know that there is a prevailing tremor. There has been in youth outreach programs that says in order to attract young people.

Churches must have cool music more entertainment. The best coffee in be in the trendiest spots basically count about what marketing themselves to the youth of today, but is that what you found in your research we found something different which was recession and and the way we've been talking about this is we have form is a new cool that warm is a new cool that when we asked young people to describe their churches and when we asked them to talk about why there churches effective with their age group. The kinds of things they said to us.

They didn't talk about the entertainment they didn't actually talk about the worship service that much for the style they didn't talk about the coffee at all what they did say that the most common phrase they used was like family.

This district is like my family or this church is my family. I feel like I belong here. I can be myself here.

This sense of authentic community and we began a call that war. We looked at this cluster of terms that was all about belonging family community. The great news is you don't have to be very hip or cool and you left a have a big budget in order to do warmth any any church can grow in her warm no matter what their resources so that was one of the surprises that was really good news for every church know that the book does look at six core commitments that successful youth programs tend to share, but it really does seem that a lot of that comes down to personal relationships. Why is that personal connection. In your opinion Brad so important and how can churches successfully worked to foster about in their own programs. I think fundamentally it so important because Howard made were made for relationship were made for convection and we are made follow Jesus along with other people, you know that's that's why we believe in the church so much because we were. We believe we were made for this God that created the church for us to be a support to each other and to be know as Paul says the tangible body of Christ here on earth. And I think too many young people feel like there going through life in isolation from others and no matter how connected we may be by social media.

Another kind digital form of connection. There's a longing for that real personal connection to story about the money bill wallet was we met and are in our research you can illustrate Pleasantville was at a church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania. We Hearing from young people about what they love about their church and why they're so connected to this church and we Hear bells name and we found out that Bill Wallace is actually 71-year-old. She just loves young people in his own background in childhood. He was involved in things I didn't have a lot of adult support and presence and so he said that's not going to happen to the young people in our church. The bill took it on himself not only to get involved in to show up, he'll go to ball games and plays no recitals and just kind of support and cheer on the youth in the church but he also has taken on himself to recruit other senior adults in the congregation and he he calls it their brigade and they are a brigade on behalf of young people. People like Bill stirring up the imagination of others to say hey this is about relationship. This is it.

Only about young people. This is about all of us.

While that's a great example. I know that brought many of our listeners are interested in learning more about the resources that you all have provided in this book out working on our listeners go to learn more about sticky face and to order your book, growing young six essential strategies to help young people discover and love your church.

Yes, start with the latter a growing young union visit churches growing in order to not only order the book but there's a host of free resources there and there's a free assessment that anyone can take that help to get a handle on what's going on in their church right now related to the six core commitments so that's churches growing and then for sticky faith to visit our website Fuller youth we have a host of free resources there.

In addition to the sticky Facebook excellent excellent website that's for youth and of the other is churches growing I am without Brad Griffin want to thank you so much for being with us on family policy matters and for putting the number of the time, effort and research into understanding what's going on in our culture with young people in faith today and then helping to communicate that information so that we all can take part in helping our young people develop my pleasure. Thank you.chin up and see family to listen to our radio show online, and for more valuable resources and information about issues important to families in North Carolina website and see and follow us on Twitter and

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