How can I connect with FYI at Youth Specialties’ NYWC in Atlanta this week?

Shares Nov 20, 2014 Fuller Youth Institute

Great question! The FYI team will be around Youth Specialties’ National Youth Workers Convention in Sacramento and would love to see you. Here are a few ways to connect with us:


  • The FYI and Fuller Booth: Several Fuller Seminary and FYI team members will be at the booth throughout the weekend during exhibit hall hours, especially Brian, Johanna, and Matthew. Stop by for information about Fuller academic programs, Sticky Faith Cohorts, our books and resources, or whatever you're curious about. Sign up for our free resources and get entered into hourly drawings for free copies of Can I Ask That? Plus, we would love for you to add some ideas to our customized Sticky Faith wall throughout the weekend!
  • Exhibit Hall Stage: Come hear Kara and Brad interview each other at our Exhibit Hall Stage time 3:30-3:40pm on Friday. You might learn something surprising.
  • Sticky Faith Author Meet-Up: Kara and Brad will be at the FYI booth Friday from 3:40-4:30pm and want to chat with you. Please drop by to say hey.
  • Thinking about joining our Sticky Faith Cohort? If you're considering joining our yearlong Sticky Faith Cohort in 2015, drop by to talk with Brian at the booth, or shoot him an email and set up a time to talk over coffee.

Seminars, Intensives, and Panels

  • Sticky Faith Intensive: Kara and Brad will be teaching this learning lab on Thursday 1-6pm in A402/403. It's a great way to take a 5-hour dive into Sticky Faith (additional registration fee required.)
  • Seminars with Chap Clark: Chap will be leading a Friday afternoon 4:15-5:45 seminar on leadership in A305, and a Saturday 1:30-3:00 seminar on middle school ministry in A402/403.
  • Sticky Faith Family Ministry Seminar: Kara will be leading a Sticky Faith seminar focusing on the new content shared in the Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family on Saturday from 4-5:30pm in Room A411.
  • Kara in the Saturday Night Big Room: Kara will be headlining the Saturday night 7:30-9:30pm Big Room. DON’T MISS IT.
  • Late Night Film Premier! Kara and Matthew from our team will be sharing a premier sneak peek at our new video series that will help you partner with parents in nurturing faith in families. Join us from 10:00-11:00pm Saturday night in A404/405.
  • Seminar with Steve Argue: On Sunday from 9:15-10:45am Steve will be presenting “Helping parents parent their post-high school kids” A302. Come learn from Mars Hill Grand Rapids’ pastor and resident theologian and FYI partner!

Pick up a copy of the All-New Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family

This is exciting: In addition to our other Sticky Faith resources, the YS Store will be selling the all-new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, and Zondervan is running an ebook discount of $2.99 all weekend. We’ll also be giving them away in surprise locations around the convention. Follow us on social media @stickyfaith and @fullerfyi to discover where.

Whether you catch us in a seminar, stop us in the hall, or join one of the Big Room sessions Irene will help facilitate, we hope to see you around NYWC this weekend!


3 Parenting Questions for Ken Fong

Shares Nov 18, 2014 Kara Powell

This post is part of a series celebrating the release of the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. We’re interviewing parents who serve, think, and write about faith, family, and ministry.

I’m so pleased to share this week’s three-question interview with Ken Fong. Ken has long been connected with Fuller, and now serves as the executive director of our Asian American Initiative. Ken has been the senior pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles for nearly 20 years. A noted conference speaker and church leader, he is a pioneer in multi-Asian and multiethnic church ministry. Ken and his wife have one daughter, and we’ll kick off our interview with a question about conversations with her.

You’ve been committed to having honest dialogue about homosexuality. How do you try to have honest conversations with your teenage daughter about same-sex issues?

Same-sex issues come up quite naturally with our teenaged daughter for a number of reasons. Until this season, she was a big fan of GLEE on television, which features numerous LGBTQ teens in the main cast. But other popular shows like American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance have naturally opened the door for us to discuss topics related to homosexuality and our faith in Christ due to the frequency of gay contestants, choreographers, or judges. But without a doubt, the number one catalytic agent for talking with her about homosexuality has been a personal and pastoral journey to find a way home for LGBTQ Christians. While it’s only been after a long, arduous journey that I’ve come to believe that LGBTQ people are just as precious and worthy as any straight person and I are to the Lord, my daughter seems to come by this outlook naturally or maybe generationally. This doesn’t mean she thinks that LGBTQ Christians should be free to do whatever they choose; rather, we both think that all Christians—gay or straight—have chosen to wrestle with what it looks like to live God-glorifying lives.

The biggest stimulus to these conversations has been when some of her friends at church have left because their parents aren’t comfortable with what I’m trying to figure out. Or when she overhears me talking about how I’m getting slammed because of taking the lead on this tough issue. That’s when she’ll ask, “Dad, I get that not every Christian agrees with you; but why does that make it okay for them to call you names and to say bad things about our church?” For our family, on this tough issue, the only way this would be more real would be if someone in our family circle was gay. I especially use these conversations to share with her how I’m feeling and how I’m dealing with the challenges. But I also make a point of sharing with her some of the heart-warming stories that are emerging all around me these days because of God’s calling me to pursue this uncharted path.

Your wife works full-time outside of the home. How do the two of you share parenting and home responsibilities?

We were married in 1981 and we didn’t become parents (after adopting a 6-day old little girl) until 1999. So for the first 18 years of our marriage, we both worked full-time and my wife was the default for the majority of grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning the kitchen. After we became parents, we stayed in that pattern for another 9 years. I typically worked closer to home and therefore was the natural one to pick up our child from after school care. But even though my wife commuted through rush hour traffic—first from Beverly Hills, then from the heart of downtown LA—I didn’t cook dinner and I didn’t clean up the kitchen.

But all of that radically changed about five years ago. I just felt so convicted that I was sinning against her. My repentance has taken the form of taking on cleaning the kitchen daily and cooking or providing dinner at least two days each week. Now that we’re giving our daughter an allowance, she’s required to clean up the kitchen on the weekends. My simple goal these past several years is for my wife to wake up and walk into a spotless kitchen most mornings so that she can kick off her workday with a sense of serenity, order, and cleanliness. 

As a senior pastor, what do you wish folks knew about senior pastors’ families that they don’t yet know?

As a senior pastor who’s married to a highly respected professional in the banking industry, it’s been really important for the sanctity of our marriage and our respective sanity to know that our church’s members don’t expect her to be everywhere that I have to be because of my job. So she no longer is obligated to attend every wedding or funeral I perform. And I no longer feel obligated to stay for every wedding reception, because I’m trying to reduce the amount of time I spend away from my family. 

Even before we were married, my wife has had to come to church without me and then not sit next to me in worship the past 30+ years. Which means she’s also functioned on Sunday mornings like a single parent. I don’t think most people realize that, by marrying me, my wife has essentially given up ever having a pastor in her life. And that’s true for every other spouse of one of the pastors on my staff. When my wife is hurting, I can reach out to her, but she receives that—understandably—as coming from her husband. So when she had Stage 1 ovarian cancer two years ago, I walked through that dark valley with her, but it frankly felt odd to have any of the other pastors extend care to her. Even when a few visited her in the hospital, they were visiting the spouse of their boss. Most people don’t understand that dynamic of pastors’ families.


For more ideas from real families like yours, get the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family.

Download the first chapter free

3 ways the Sticky Faith Cohort changed our team

Shares Nov 10, 2014 Fuller Youth Institute

This Sticky Faith story is from Katie Sanders, the Associate Pastor of Formation at Upper Room in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a Sticky Faith Cohort Veteran, and one of our coaches and Sticky Faith trainers.


It all started with an email from my friend Cory. His church had been part of a Sticky Faith cohort in 2011 and knew it would be right up my alley.

He was right. Sticky Faith research and principles put language to things I had been thinking about for years. After reading up about this opportunity, I was confident it was the right next step for our staff. I spent a few weeks preparing for a conversation with our lead pastor. I won’t hide the fact that one of my selling points was a trip to Pasadena in February (we live in Minnesota).

Bottom line… We loved our cohort experience. We were encouraged and challenged and inspired. We met some amazing people. We thawed out in the midst of brutal MN winter. But when I really think back to why this was such a significant experience for our church, three core things come to mind:

1. The cohort created space

I am sure most of us in vocational ministry can relate to the feeling of being on the hamster wheel. We live in the reality of week-in, week-out ministry… nurturing relationships, planning program, writing curriculum, crafting messages. Sometimes the best gift can be to step away from it all. The cohort provided us this incredible space; space to be together as a staff, space to listen and learn and wrestle and dream about our future.

2. We learned A LOT

I remember filling an entire notebook with notes from my cohort year. A definite highlight was learning from Brad, Kara, Scott, and Chap. We covered everything from adolescent development to adaptive change. We got to core, foundational, fundamental topics—topics that too often go unaddressed in ministry settings.

3. We were challenged to do something with what we learned

I have vivid memories of attending past ministry conferences where I walked away with 25 great ideas but had no clue how those ideas could become a reality in our church community. And sometimes those ideas flat out would not work in our context. The hope of the Cohort and the challenge issued to all participants is to take the research and learnings and actually apply them. In fact, a significant part of the cohort experience is putting together a Breakthrough Plan, which involves picking 2-3 areas of ministry and creating a plan to implement change. We were provided individualized coaching and accountability, which I believe made all the difference. One of the results of our Breakthrough Plan was that we started to equip parents in our community in a new way. All of our ministry settings are unique, and the Sticky Faith Cohort not only recognizes this, but celebrates it too.

All in all, we are so thankful for our Cohort year. While ministry development is always a process, our year in the Sticky Faith Cohort helped us to lay a solid foundation, giving us a clearer vision for the work we do with our kids, students, and families.

The deadline to register is December 15th, don’t miss your opportunity to join!  To confirm your spot, email Brian Nelson at or call (626) 584-5546.

Learn more

Is it the right time for my church to join a Sticky Faith Cohort?

Shares Nov 06, 2014 Kara PowellBrad M. Griffin

We’ve been delighted and humbled by the range of churches that have participated in our Sticky Faith Cohorts over the past five years. Along the way we’ve been able to get to know leaders from all across North America, multiple denominations, and all sizes and flavors of ministry.

This fall we’re gearing up for our next cohort starting in January 2015. One of the questions we often get asked by leaders considering the cohort is:

“How do we know if it’s the right time?”

The great news is that we’ve seen congregations in all sorts of stages and situations find the cohort experience helpful to catalyze their youth ministry and entire church toward Sticky Faith. As one church leader shared recently, the emphasis on making change in their own context freed their church to tailor Sticky Faith uniquely to their congregation, while also learning a ton from churches who were both like and unlike them.

Here are 5 things to consider as you think about joining the Cohort:

  1. Start having conversations with other team members that push you to look at both what you’re doing in ministry and why you’re doing it.
  2. What is your vision for partnership with children’s ministry leadership at your church? Churches who see the most gains during the Cohort process tend to move towards synergy between youth and children’s ministry.
  3. How do you want to utilize training opportunities next year? Consider focusing your team training efforts and budget toward the 2015 Cohort in order to create a clear collaborative mission and leverage our research-based resources. We’ll supply you with volunteer training tools and an interactive process for your team to engage for the year!
  4. How involved is your senior pastor with your ministry’s mission? The cohort helps bring everyone on the same page to move toward a clear vision together. Consider garnering support from your senior pastor and other leadership for your church’s participation in a yearlong process. (This video from Fuller President Mark Labberton might help).

  5. If it would help to talk with a leader from another church within your denomination/tradition or your community who has been through the Cohort, let us know and we will do our best to connect you with someone.

Often the factors leaders think might be obstacles to participating in the process don’t have to be. Issues like a senior pastor transition or having a small youth ministry team don’t necessarily mean the timing is bad. Sticky Faith won’t look the same in every church. We think that’s great news for leaders like you.

Sometimes God surprises leaders with the timing of the cohort. We’ve heard story after story about how God has used the cohort journey as a catalyst for their team, youth ministry, or congregation in ways they hadn’t predicted. Nothing excites us more!

As you prayerfully consider if this is the right timing for your team to join the 2014 Sticky Faith Cohort, know that we’re praying for you. We trust that God will bring together the right churches for the right time, and we can’t wait to see what this year holds!

If you have been considering the cohort, email or call Brian Nelson today at (626) 584-5546. The deadline is December 15th for the 2015 cohort; don’t miss getting a spot for next year!

Cheering you on,

Kara Powell, Brad Griffin, and the FYI Team

Learn more about the Cohort

3 Parenting Questions for April Diaz

Shares Nov 04, 2014 Kara Powell

This post is part of a series celebrating the release of the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. We’re interviewing parents who serve, think, and write about faith, family, and ministry.

This week we hear from FYI partner and Sticky Faith Certified Trainer April Diaz. April and her husband Brian parent three children, two adopted and one biological, and have learned a ton as an intercultural and adoptive family. April also serves as the Director of Coaching for the Youth Cartel, and last year released her first book, Redefining the Role of the Youth Worker: A Manifesto of Integration.

You and your husband, Brian, are deeply committed to multi-ethnic ministry and relationships. How have those types of relationships benefitted your family? How, if at all, has your commitment negatively impacted your family?

Being part of a multi-ethnic community has utterly changed our understanding of God and the Gospel. Our family is also very multi-ethnic. I'm your boring white, Midwestern girl who married a 1.5 generation Puerto Rican (meaning his parents were born and raised in Puerto Rico, and Brian was born outside the US but moved here as a kid), adopted a couple Ethiopians, and have one biological mixed baby. Our family is quite the picture of diversity. As our family has grown in diversity, it's been very important for us to surround ourselves with others "not like us." After all, the story of the Good Samaritan is really a story about being a neighbor by going toward someone who is not like you. It is in that uncomfortable place where we can lean more into the grace and character of God. The incarnation even becomes more miraculous through that perspective.

As we've interacted with and grown in relationships with cultures unlike our first culture, we can see the fullness of God more. It's allowed our kids to see the family isn't only about bloodlines but it's about love and commitment to one another. I believe each person is created in the image of God. We are his imago dei. And just as each person reflects God's image, I believe each culture embodies a characteristic or attribute of God. We've seen more of how different cultures and ethnicities understand God through their environment, strengths, and especially their pain.

Having adopted two children, what do you wish you had known before they entered your family?

I wish I would've known a couple of things. First, how utterly "my own" they would feel as my kids. I knew I would love them completely, but I didn't realize that our adopted son and daughter would feel as much "my own" as my biological son does. It's an incredible thing God does in our souls to knit us together as a family. It's also been an indescribable transformation for me as I experience God's adoption of me with new understanding. I knew God adopted me as his child because of his work on the cross, but I KNOW it differently now.

Second, I wish I would've known how painful adoption is at every level for the rest of our lives together. The losses our two oldest kids have experienced at such an early age are incomprehensible to me. They've lost birth family, culture, language, heritage, food, and more in order to become ours. We realized that before we adopted them, and embraced that loss with the hope of healing. But I didn't realize how every Mother’s Day my heart would ache as I remember the loss of their first mom. I didn't consider how every time we see a new doctor, I would feel the pang of having to answer "do not know" with every family history question. I never thought about how every birthday I'd be simultaneously so grateful for their birth, yet heartbroken both that I was not a part of that moment and also for the loss of their biological parents. I suppose I wish I would have known how ongoing the painful moments would be, yet also kissed with redemption at every step.

I know prayer is something that is very important to you. How does prayer shape your family? What do you wish your family was doing differently when it comes to prayer?

I really love how my kids will initiate prayer at moments other than meals and bedtime. I also love our rehearsed bedtime prayers when my kids burst out with what they were grateful for in that day. It almost feels like a kid-sized prayer of examen together (on the good days). My tired body is energized when they ask aloud with me that God would "fill their dreams with the Holy Spirit, give them peace, and restore their souls". Those are sweet times as they learn about talking with God. 

I wish we were more diligent about asking our kids about where they see God at work (as only a 6, 4, and 2 year old can articulate) and asking God for what they need at any moment throughout their days. Our instruction on prayer is more organic and less structured than I'd like, but maybe that's okay for their ages. 

5 Ways the Sticky Faith Cohort Is Still Changing Our Church (3 Years Later)

Shares Oct 29, 2014 Fuller Youth Institute

This Sticky Faith Story is from Matthew Deprez, Intergenerational Pastor at Frontline Community Church in Grand Rapids, MI, a Sticky Faith Cohort veteran, and one of our Coaches and Sticky Faith Trainers.

Our church had the privilege of participating in a Sticky Faith Cohort in 2011. When I think back on all the decisions Frontline has made over the past 3 years, the decision to join the cohort has been, without a doubt, one of the most important. Here are some ways the Cohort is still changing our church:

1. We formed a new network

One of the most unexpected parts of the cohort is the ongoing relationship Frontline has been able to build with other churches who have been part of cohorts. Three years later, some of my closest friends in ministry are leaders from other churches we met that year. I’ve been challenged by how to do ministry from churches with under 200 people, and churches as large as 10,000+ people. Some of our most effective changes have happened because of ongoing conversations since the cohort ended. 

2.Programmatic shifts

Our ministry programs today look completely different from before the cohort. Earlier this year, we finished building a brand-new Children’s Ministry wing with Sticky Faith values in mind. Then this fall our student ministry willingly volunteered to give away their student ministry room so they could meet in our church’s main auditorium in order to feel more connected to the larger church. We do interdepartmental trainings with volunteers, and have shared a cohesive (and non-competitive) interdepartmental calendar. Our staff structure changed to more effectively work together and better resource people at Frontline.

3.We disciple the entire family, rather than just individual people

Previous to the cohort, our staff worked hard to disciple their own demographic individually. Today, we try our best to ask how the entire family can be discipled. This means our staff regularly has to put our heads together, and work as a team. We still have age-appropriate departments and ministries, but we’re working hard to disciple the family as a whole. We’ve done Sunday morning sermon series based on what we’ve learned from the cohort. We’ve created “Milestones” for families to celebrate and grow together. We’ve provided simple opportunities for families to have spiritual conversations together, and implemented family-based serving opportunities locally and abroad. Before the cohort, we internally believed that in-home discipleship was the most important thing we could provide for a child’s spiritual development, but we didn’t know how to do it. After the cohort, we actually put resources in place to make family discipleship a reality.

4.We measure effectiveness...more effectively

Before the cohort, we essentially measured the effectiveness of a program based on how many people showed up. While we still measure programmatic attendance, the cohort helped us process better ways to measure the effectiveness of what we do. Now, we evaluate our staff differently, recruit and retain volunteers more effectively, and resource and equip parents more passionately. In short, the way we measure success has created a different set of expectations for everybody at Frontline, and we’re much better off because of it.

5. The cohort brought us to sunny California!

I’d be lying if I said that getting to California in February and October wasn’t a draw for us. February’s weather in West Michigan isn’t terribly attractive, and since lake-effect snow doesn’t exist in Los Angeles, it was a fairly easy sell to get our staff to go. In all seriousness, the times on-site in California were critical for us. Meeting the other churches, interacting with the FYI staff, and getting away as a team were all crucial to the cohort being a “win” for Frontline.

I can’t think of anything else Frontline has done over the past 3 years that has changed our culture as much as the Sticky Faith Cohort, and my hope is that as many churches as possible gain the same experience!

Learn More

For questions and to confirm your spot, email Brian Nelson at or call (626) 584-5546

3 Parenting Questions for Jim Burns

Shares Oct 28, 2014 Kara Powell

This post is part of a series celebrating the release of the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. We’re interviewing parents who serve, think, and write about faith, family, and ministry.

This week we hear from my dear friend Dr. Jim Burns. Jim and his wife Cathy have three adult daughters (the subject of the first question below!), and Jim is one of the most sought-out voices on family relationships and faith. He serves as President of HomeWord. Jim has written extensively on parenting and marriage, and one of his recent books is Faith Conversations for Families, a great tie-in to Sticky Faith!

I’ve seen how close you are with your daughters, even now that they are young adults. What did you and Cathy do when your girls were younger that helped plant those close relational roots that continue to bear fruit?

You’re right, we are close. And we actually like each other most—but not all—of the time!

Since children regard your very presence as a major sign of caring and connectedness, we decided to practice "the power of being there." I'm not sure we ever missed a game or competition while they grew up. We tried to live by making the kids the first priority on our calendar, along with a weekly date as a couple.

I remember researching traits of healthy families for a book I wrote called 10 Building Blocks to a Solid Family. One of the major traits of a close-knit family was that they played together. So we took it upon ourselves to be very proactive about playing together. Cathy was also fanatical about having dinners together and making sure we went on really fun vacations. Today there are still regular family dinners, and we try to do a family vacation with our adult kids each year. So far, so good. 

What verse of scripture has most shaped your parenting?

I'm not sure we had one favorite verse for the entire time we were raising our kids, but three scriptures come to mind: "Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray." (Prov. 22:6) We claimed this verse as a promise, especially in the tougher times. As our girls reached the teenage years, they all took a turn away from what we had hoped and expected. Our goal was that by the time they became young adults, we would have taught them how to find their “Mission, Mate, and Master.” This doesn't mean that they would have it all together, but that we at least helped them learn a biblical view in all three of those areas. Today we are reaping those rewards, but it sure wasn't easy during the tougher times.  

The second scripture is "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be written upon your hearts. Impress them on your children." (Deut. 6:4,5) This scripture is called the shema, a Hebrew word meaning “to listen,” and it actually is the plan and purpose for the Hebrew people. It's the most often-quoted scripture in the entire Bible because it has been recited every morning and evening in every Orthodox Jewish home since the time of Moses. I can imagine Mary holding the baby Jesus in her arms reciting these words to him. What this scripture taught Cathy and me is that we are called to live our faith out to the best we can, and then in a healthy way “impress” or pass it on to our children. We came up with a Sunday night fun night that included games, fun food, and a short spiritual formation time. Our kids didn't mind, as long as it was a positive environment with fun food!

We also kept a nightly quick prayer time at each of the girls’ bedside. I got in the habit of placing the sign of the cross on their foreheads. One time when one of my adult daughters was going through a tough time, I asked her if I could pray for her. When I was finished praying she took my hand and had me put the sign of the cross on her forehead. I had no idea all those years that this experience meant anything to her. 

The third verse is, "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." (Prov. 4:23) Neither Cathy nor I were raised in Christian homes. No one ever taught us how to "guard our hearts." We believed it was very important that we taught our kids (through both words and action) how to have healthy relationships by guarding their hearts as well as learning to guard their hearts in their faith.

In your opinion, what mistakes do fathers tend to make in the way they parent their daughters? 

I meet too many fathers who seem to know what to do with their sons, but who struggle with their daughters. I grew up in a home with all brothers, so when Cathy and I had all girls there were times I did feel like an alien. What am I saying? There are still those times! 

I always suggest to fathers to have a regular date with their daughters. Spending time is a big deal. When they are little, play with them, nurture them, read to them, pray with them. As they get older, they may think you aren't as cool (at least mine did), but continue spending time. I have a yellowed post-it note on my desk that has three letters on it: A.W.E. It stands for affection, warmth, and encouragement. I want to give my girls (and Cathy) plenty of appropriate affection. I want to set a tone in the home of warmth so that when I do have to discipline or call them on something, they remember the warm times too. And I think a dad needs to give his daughters plenty of encouragement. I have a little sign in my office at work that reads, "Every kid needs at least one adult who is irrationally positive about them." I want to be that kind of a dad. 

For more ideas from real families like yours, get the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family.

Download the first chapter free

3 Parenting Questions for Danny Kwon

Shares Oct 23, 2014 Kara Powell

This post is part of a series celebrating the release of the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. We’re interviewing parents who serve, think, and write about faith, family, and ministry.

This week we hear from parent and pastor Danny Kwon. Danny has been serving for over 20 years in youth and family ministry at Yuong Sang Church outside Philadelphia. Along with his love for sports, eating, and making people laugh, he is married to Monica, and together they parent three teenagers.

Danny, you’re someone who has served within Korean-American culture for years. What trends do you see in the ways Korean-American families are living out their faith these days?

I would say that the Korean-American church is evolving. My parents were immigrants who spoke very little English. Church was not only a place of worship and faith, but also a social institution where they got to fellowship and network with others like them. Then these parents came to church and sent their teenagers to youth group because it was a social institution as well as a place of faith. Students came because their parents came, and it was a place to have interaction with others like them.

While there are still immigrants from Korea in the Korean-American church, due to the effects of globalism and greater English skills, parents are often more acculturated to America. Korean-American parents now have choices outside of church to socialize. Church is not the center of their life. Whereas in the past many parents would make church a higher priority, now I see that priority lessening for both parents and students.

How has your own recent doctoral research on innovation impacted your parenting?

I am a youth pastor and parent of three teenagers. When I studied innovation and innovative churches and how they are practicing youth ministry, it was very interesting to see that many parents do value their youth ministry. Many like it. I know that implementing Sticky Faith, and in particular moving to a more intergenerational ministry paradigm, can be hard. But one thing I have realized from my research is that parents seem to like youth ministry the way it is.

As far as how that has impacted my parenting, I would say that as a parent/youth pastor, it has made me be more empathetic to parents as we nurture change in our youth ministry. I need to understand that change is hard. I need to find ways to implement innovation in ways that are sensitive to parents.

I find myself saying as a parent that it is a lot harder getting my own teenage kids to come with me to an intergenerational worship service rather than just send them to the youth group. Moreover, just sitting with them during worship and discussing the sermon afterward—that takes a lot of effort! It is not easy implementing an innovation like Sticky Faith, and in particular for parents like me, it takes time to get used to change.

Living on the Northeast coast, what are some of the regional challenges and opportunities you see when it comes to building faith in families?

My son just entered 12th grade. When we visited colleges this past summer across the Northeast, I noticed the kind of schools he liked and disliked. The schools he liked were the ones that seemed more laid-back and seemingly less "cutthroat." Living in the Northeast, there are stereotypes that people are more driven, Type A, and competitive. Many of the stereotypes ring true.

I think about families who are super busy and stressed out. The pressure to succeed in sports or academics is intense. Conversely, those who don't seem to “make the cut” struggle with feelings of failure.

Of course this is not only a Northeast thing. But perhaps the biggest implication in all this is where faith and family come together. Families and youth group students miss church all the time for travel sports teams, required community service, or just because they are overwhelmed with homework. And for parents, engaging faith through the church is just one of the many "activities" for their kids to choose from.

One opportunity that has arisen out of all this is that as our church has a very active summer short-term missions program, we have made it clear to parents and students that they can serve God and get community service hours for school. Most of the time they can get approval to complete required hours through our trips. Ultimately, this has been a great way to help students serve others, to spend time with them as they grow in faith, and to reduce some of their stress about staying on top of the pressures of high school as they serve others.

For more ideas from real families like yours, get the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family.

Download the first chapter free

5 Ways Catholic Leaders Win at Social Media

Shares Oct 21, 2014 Art Bamford

Recently Fast Company featured an article titled “Blogging Nuns, Tweeting Monks, And The Catholic Church’s Digital Revolution” that examines a “movement sweeping the Catholic world: monks, nuns, everyday people of faith, and, most famously, the Pope (@Pontifex) himself, are embracing digital media.”

This is just one of a number of articles we have seen on this topic since Pope Francis’ installation in 2013. People are increasingly taking notice of how Roman Catholic leaders have responded to, and are using, social media and digital technology, particularly in how they engage young people.

What is it about recent Catholic social media strategies that have been so effective in reaching out? We thought it might be helpful to identify a few key things that Protestant Christians might learn from our Catholic brothers and sisters. Here are some pointers from watching @Pontifex and associates:[1]  

1. Have Fun

Catholic leaders have responded to new media and technology with a kind of playful irreverence that has been fun to follow, and attractive to folks outside the church.[2] While it is important that church leaders take technology seriously, and think critically about the role it plays in our lives, it is also important that we do not take it too seriously. Catholic leaders have done a great job defying expectations that they would ignore or dismiss digital technology simply by playing around with it, the way we all do after buying a new device.

2. Have Hope

In recent press coverage on media, Catholic leaders begin responding to journalists’ questions by affirming new devices and apps as potential channels through which the gospel may reach a new audience.[3] These leaders often add an appropriate warning about potential negative effects, but their first response is hopeful optimism about sharing the gospel in new ways.

3. Have Patience

Apart from some general guidelines on how to use digital media, like these (which are worth checking out) from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Vatican has been slow to initiate formal, substantial changes to their theology, liturgy, or church buildings. Practically every Christian leader has felt an increasing sense of urgency about the Church’s need to respond and adapt to digital media in recent years. For the most part, the Roman Catholic Church has done an admirable job of continuing to set its own agenda. Catholic leaders have prioritized their concerns based on the mission of the Church rather than the demands of popular culture.[4]   

4. Have Humility

Despite all the trolling and negativity that happens online, Catholic leaders jumped in on social media without much concern for how they might be perceived or received. That eagerness to connect has resonated with young people, and provided a healthy, much-needed boost to the Church’s reputation.[5] Some Protestant organizations have approached social media in a top-down way, like a publisher or television network, aiming to produce content the same way as before and send it out through a different channel. That model for producing digital content often registers as marketing and is seen as inauthentic by many young people. Catholic leaders have made strong connections online as people rather than as organizations or celebrity platforms.[6]

5. Have Hobbies

A lot of press coverage we’ve seen profiles quirky clergy sharing their passions and hobbies outside of the church online. Unlike many of our older types of media, which are good for getting messages out from one source to a big audience, social media is more well-suited for connecting one to one. Being a part of online communities centered around a hobby can be a great way to meet people, develop friendships, and (eventually) discuss your faith. A lot of folks wrongly assume that religion is a kind of hobby, or that Christians don’t have other interests outside of church. Catholic leaders have done a great job dispelling that myth by building new friendships through shared interests online. They have allowed strangers a glimpse into how their vocations, hobbies, and beliefs fit together as a holistic, meaning-filled and joyful life.


[1] See QJ Schultze, Christianity and the mass media in America: Toward a democratic accommodation (MSU Press, 2012) for an overview of how the two traditions have differed with regards to media and technology; also SM Hoover & SS Kim, Digital Media and the Protestant Establishment: Insights from “The New Media Project” in Finding Religion in the Media (2012), is an excellent overview of more recent trends in Protestant approaches to digital media.

3 Parenting Questions for Kristen Ivy

Shares Oct 17, 2014 Kara Powell

This post is part of a series celebrating the release of the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family. We’re interviewing parents who think and write about faith, family, and ministry.

This week we hear from author, mom, and ministry leader Kristen Ivy. Kristen serves as the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange, blogs at, and and is the co-author of Playing for Keeps. With her husband Matt, she parents two preschoolers in the Atlanta area.

Kristen, how do you make sure you’re the parent you want to be in the midst of your demanding job?

I am never the parent I want to be.

But then again, I fall short of my own standard pretty regularly, so maybe it’s no surprise that the same is true of my parenting. Being a working mother isn’t easy. The only way to approach it is to walk with enough humility to admit my faults, to accept forgiveness not only from God, but also from my husband and children, and to be willing to forgive myself.

For the record, every day I don’t . . .

… shower, dress well, and show up to work on-time, put together,

and remember to send back the library books.

… lead staff, lead meetings, generate new ideas, innovate systems,

and remember to sign the kids up for the next round of swim lessons.

… play with my kids as much as they would like,

read to my kids as much as their teachers would like,

finish all the laundry, clean the kitchen, write a few blogs,

or get as much sleep as I would like.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post for Orange Parents that answered some of how I try to prioritize in the midst of sometimes un-doable expectations:

People over tasks. Whether it’s my kids or my co-workers, the people in my world matter more than the tasks at hand. When the day is over, if the people I’m closest to feel supported and loved, the day is a success—even if there’s still a pile of laundry at the foot of the bed and I didn’t answer every email.

Reality over Perception. The Room Mom might judge me for bringing store-bought cupcakes to the party instead of homemade ones. My co-workers may be frustrated when I change the time of a meeting because I forgot that I was the “mystery-reader” that day, or I have to run to the pediatrician again. Every day, I have a choice: I can worry about the perceptions others have about my “failures” as a mom or as an executive, or I can focus on what I need to do in the moment. Most of the time it’s just a whole lot better to figure out how to work within my capacity, than to spend time worried about perceptions.

Authenticity over Perfection. I don’t plan to raise perfect kids; but I do want to raise kids who know how to work hard and deal with failure well. I don’t plan to lead teams who respect me because I’m the perfect leader; but I do hope we can respect each other for our gifts and abilities in spite of our weaknesses and struggles. For those reasons, I choose to work and parent with authenticity even when it means I have to own up to not meeting my own or someone else’s expectations.

As part of the Orange team, I know you’re committed to families and churches partnering together in the spiritual formation of kids.  As a parent, how have you tried to support your own church’s children’s ministry?

I think two things are true about how Orange has influenced my personal relationship with the local church where I serve.

1. As a parent, I am more aware of my own role in the spiritual development of my children. I also see that my role is connected to what leaders at our church are doing on Sunday mornings. We try to reinforce at home what we know they are doing at church in things like:

  • We have window markers that we use to write the monthly memory verse on our sliding glass door.
  • We talk about the story they learned on Sunday when it makes sense.
  • In our car, we sometimes play a CD of music they sing at church.
  • We pray together at bedtime.
  • When we talk about faith and character issues, we use the same language the church uses so there is consistency.

2. As a volunteer for student ministry at my church, I’m more aware of my responsibility to partner with the parents of my small group. Right now I’m currently working with Elle Campbell to write a short E-Book with some practical ways we have tried to partner with parents as small group leaders in student ministry. A few of those are:

  • Emailing the parent any time a new student is added to my group to introduce myself and to ask the parent to share a few things with me about their kid.
  • Communicating to parents about what’s happening at the church, in the ministry, and in our small group so they have the information they need.
  • Making an effort to personally meet the parents when we have special events or whenever I go to their games/ plays /etc…
  • Sharing positive stories about parents with my group.
  • Sharing positive things about my students with their parents.
  • Giving parents credit for the positive characteristics that I see in their children.

What has parenting taught you about yourself that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise?

I can type with one hand.

I can make a pretty good “Elsa” out of Wikki sticks.

I still remember a lot of songs that my mother used to sing to me.

I am not at all good at sitting back and watching someone mess up (I really, really want to intervene).

I don’t serve others well when I haven’t taken care of myself well.

I really, really, really need other people to help me.

For the rest of my life I will love two people with a kind of love I never imagined possible.

For more ideas from real families like yours, get the new Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family.

Download the first chapter for free