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Lesson 4 Starting Up

Sticky Families

(Students and parents seated at different tables.) Church announcements, upcoming events, and prayer. Quick recap of lessons so far. This lesson is called Sticky Families, but it could be called, Sticky Faith Conversations in Families.

To illustrate the influence of family, check out these charts from Think Orange: students spend waaaay more time with parents than at church. Table Talk Question 1: What is your initial reaction to these illustrations? How do they make you feel? What do you think is the big lesson they should teach us? It would be a huge mistake to totally relegate faith development to church times. We want to avoid being dry-cleaner parentsdrop the kids off dirty, leave them with the youth group for an hour, and expect them to be returned clean. Imagine We Planted a Microphone in Your House Imagine we recorded a weeks worth of your familys conversations. What would we hear? Logistics? Trivia? Worse? What percent of your conversations would explicitly mention God, or have an overt connection to your faith? How do you feel about your answer? From a Student: Even though my mother was actually working at the church for a while as the music ministerwe didnt talk about faith at home. Still dont talk about it at home.

Some Sticky Findings: 1. Most parents dont talk about faith with their kids. According to a study of 11,000 Christian teenagers, 12 percent of youth have a regular dialogue with their mom on faith or life issues. Only 5 percent have regular faith or life conversation with their dad. 9 percent of teenagers engage in regular reading of the Bible and devotions with their families. 2. Students whose parents talk about faith have more sticky faith. Good places to start: What did you talk about in church today? How was class tonight? What did you think of the sermon? But as vital to Sticky Faith is that you also share about your own faith. In other words, dont just interview your kids; discuss your own faith journey and all of its ups and downs. 3. Christian parents tend to avoid tricky subjects. Two different studies indicate that the more important religion is to parents, the more difficult it is for those same parents to talk with their kids about sex. 4. Parents who talk about doubts help build sticky faith. The doubts that young Christians struggle with tend to cluster into four categories: Does God exist? Does God love me? Am I living the life God wants? Is Christianity true or the only way to God? Our research shows that airing these questions in a safe, loving, affirming environment helps develop Sticky Faith. From a students perspective: My parents are very conservative and strongly believe what the Bible says and theyre not wavering from that, but theyre also very open. If I have a question about something or if Im questioning what the Bible says, theyre not going to get angry at me for doing that. They want me to do that. 5. Students with sticky faith have parents who encourage individual thought. Sticky Faith students often report that while their parents offered opinions, they ultimately gave the students some latitude to arrive at their own conclusions.

Who you are as a parent is far more important than what you say. If I had to choose between living out my faith or talking about my faith in front of my kids, Id choose the former every time. But I dont have to choose. And neither do you. We can do both. While we know that actions speak louder than words, words still really matter. So how can you make sure that you create both a tone and a schedule that encourages conversations that further Sticky Faith? Springboard Suggestions for Sticky Faith Conversations 1. Provide space and time for quality conversations. The authors: make space and time each week with your family in which the goals are to have fun and to talk. Split up the kidshave one-on-one time. Make the conversation a time to ask each other questions. Here are some of their favorites (keep in mind that their kids are younger): What would your friends say they like about you? What do you wish was different about our family? Do you think our family is too busy, not busy enough, or just right? Whats your idea of the best day ever? What do you like about your teacher these days? What do you wish were different? 2. Learn to listen and ask questions, not lecture. Youll interact better with your son or daughter when you learn to listen and ask questions instead of lecture. Never explain something to your kid if you can ask a question instead. Table Talk Question 2: What are the benefits of asking questions over giving lectures? Is asking questions always better than giving lectures? When might a lecture be appropriate? 3. Create the right venue for meaningful conversation. When children are younger, scheduled dates are quite effective. As children get older, scheduled dates seem less sincere. As your son or daughter enters adolescence, planned spontaneity is often more effective.

Parents have repeatedly told us that their best conversations with their kids occur in the midst of everyday life. Talk about Creating a Rhythm Handout slide from Think Orange (copies are at the table in back). 4. Dont avoid the touchy subjects. We cant afford to not go deep with our kids when it comes to difficult subjects. Love this question: Does your (insert behavior here) match who you want to be as a follower of Jesus? 5. Share your own faith. The author admits that a major problem with her and her husbands faith conversations is that we never shared what we had learned in church. We were interviewing our kids instead of having a conversation with them. Thanks to our research, now when we ask our kids to share what they learned in church, we talk about what we learned or experienced too. Great questions for parents to ask and answer: How did you see God at work today? What was a high point for you today? A low point for you today? What mistake did you make today? Its important for parents to share stories about themselves, especially their faith stories. (Tell everyone that copies of The Importance of Storytelling in Families by Mark Oestreicher is at the table in back!) 6. Talk about your doubts. In developmentally appropriate ways, you can talk about your own doubts and struggles, whether they be more abstract (I wonder why God lets us choose whether to follow him) or more personal (I wonder why God allowed your friend to be raised by an abusive mom and distant dad). The lament Psalms remind us that its okay to ask God hard questions.

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