How the Post Office Can Help Build Sticky Faith

Kara Powell | Aug 13, 2014

Photo by Jasmine Fitzwilliam.

In celebration of the release of The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, stickyfaith.org is hosting a “Blog Tour” to share some of the book’s research highlights and practical ideas. This story from my own experience in college is described in chapter 12: “Sticky Transitions: Helping Kids Leave Home with a Faith of Their Own.”

The two credit card applications I expected. The handwritten letter was a surprise.

It was my first day on campus as a college freshman. With the help of my parents and two RAs, all of my belongings had been carried from my Toyota to my dorm room that morning. I had unpacked my clothes, plugged in my Macintosh computer (a light-grey tower about the size of three cereal boxes), spread out my new blue and white bedspread, and strategically placed my Bible on a visible but not too obvious shelf above my desk.

About the time I was wondering what to do next, my roommate walked in. I immediately liked Tammy. Not only was she cheerful and friendly, but she was also a Christian (a rarity at my college) who was taller than me (I’m six feet tall, so that’s even more of a rarity). A few other freshmen on our floor swung by our room and asked us if we wanted to walk a few blocks with them to check our PO boxes. Not having anything pressing to do and wanting to get to know our floormates, Tammy and I agreed.

Upon opening my PO box, I immediately discarded the two credit card brochures. My mom had warned me about those.

As I chucked the applications, I was surprised to find a handwritten note. It was from Pamela, one of the high school small group leaders in my home church. The week before I had packed up my car for the drive to college, Pamela had asked my mom for my new school address. She wasn’t even my small group leader, but she knew enough about life at college that she wanted a cheerful greeting from home to be waiting for me.

I walked back to my dorm room and taped that note from Pamela to the right of my mirror. Her note stayed there until Christmas, a daily reminder that my home church was thinking about me and praying for me. I had not been forgotten.

In the twenty-five years since I opened that mailbox, technology has expanded the quantity and quality of pipes we can use to shower high school graduates with our care and concern. Our research team recently heard from Sheila, a mom who asked a number of her church friends to write to her son Matthew, who was heading to a college fifteen hundred miles from home. A week later Matthew posted on Facebook, “I’ve only been at college for a week, and I have already received countless letters, texts, and posts from my home church. Thank you all so much! Every letter has encouraged me to keep my faith strong. With all the ‘options’ out there at college, it’s comforting to know that I have a church family back home supporting me and my beliefs. If you haven’t written to a college student yet, I encourage you to do so. It will make their day!

To Sheila’s delight, Matthew received letters from folks she hadn’t directly asked to write him. Upon hearing from others about her invitation, they had decided to pick up a pen to let Matthew know that while he was out of sight, he wasn’t out of mind.

How have you used mail to help build Sticky Faith in young people?

#stickyfaithfamily
Spread the Word.
Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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