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Space, not programs
One of the most common questions people ask regarding Sticky Faith is What helps make adolescents faith last into adulthood? When answering this, I usually respond that I want to know this answer too!
Yet, one of my defining qualities (and possibly spiritual gifts) is looking for the inverse question
What makes faith disappear?
In similar fashion to developing Sticky Faith, there is no silver bullet for defeating faith. But within The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry, Kenda Creasy Dean offers something close to it with this answer:
The need to connect what adolescents must do developmentally (achieve an enduring sense of identity) with what Jesus does theologically (accomplishes YHWHs salvation) was chronically overlooked by the church, although not necessarily by adolescents themselves, who acted out the human need for salvation, often implicitly or inappropriately. ((The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry, Kenda Creasy Dean & Andrew Root, 65.))
I don't blame the culture of youth ministry for missing this. Yet it seems that students are acting out the need for salvation everywhere but the place where they might find it.
Churches are doing a great job of the first piece Dean points out, of developing identity. Yet this is all for naught without the theological piece of salvation. Identity simply will not stick without purpose.
Perhaps what's needed is space, not programs. Typically at youth group, silence seems like a four-letter word to be avoided, or enacted. This is where programming must confer with theology. Salvation needs to be acted out, or discovered, in the context of the church, with the right people and in the right time.
Otherwise, salvation could implicitly or improperly be found elsewhere.
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