What is it about peanut butter that makes it so popular? I bet you have a jar in your kitchen right now. I think PB is so popular because it's tasty, nutritious, easy-to-use and affordable. But one characteristic stands out - peanut butter is sticky. What would happen in our families if we had peanut butter faith - tasty, nutritious, simple and sticky? As least fifty percent of the children who are active in their faith stop being involved with church as older teens or in college. What made the difference for the minority of kids who retained their faith? What made their faith sticky? People have actually researched this and one of the common denominators, in all studies, is that the young people who retained their faith talked about faith at home. The implications are clear. We can't outsource spiritual formation to the church, Christian school, or ministry. Parents need to become the primary trainers of spiritual formation for their children and teens. The church (and others) serve as a secondary and supportive role.
How can we make faith stick at home? I'd suggest seven simple ways. Six are adapted from a best-selling business book by brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Made To Stick - Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (New York: Random House, Inc. 2008. 16-18)
- Simplicity - for ideas to stick, they need to be simple and profound.
- Unexpectedness - Children are born with wonder in their hearts. Introduce them to a God of wonder, miracles and surprises. Keep the mystery in your faith.
- Concreteness - Be clear, concise and not too abstract.
- Credibility - Impress God's word on your heart first. Then it will seem real to your kids.
- Emotions - Share your passion for God with your kids. They are likely to catch it.
- Stories - People are more likely to act on ideas when they hear stories, especially when they feel, that in some way, they are part of the story. All of these add up to S.U.C.C.E.S. and make for a useful acrostic for marketing business. But I'd like to offer a seventh element for sticky faith at home. Plus it's the right spelling: SUCCESS
- Spirit-dependent. We can have the first six elements, but without the Spirit of God working in the parents and the kids, we won't have lasting faith. God's Spirit communicates when we can't. His Spirit comforts when we can't. The Holy Spirit convicts our kids when we don't even know they have sinned. To have S.U.C.C.E.S.S. and peanut butter faith we absolutely must depend on the Spirit of God. No formulas or programs work quite like the Spirit of God!