This review was written by Tracy Beeson, a Sticky Faith Cohort Alumna who has agreed to share her experience with our Sticky Faith Cohort. To learn more about the cohort, click here.
Have you ever trained for a long-distance race? Every time I have done so, I’ve experienced similar emotions. You may start very excited, prepared, organized, and ready. Then you get a few weeks or months into training and you’re tired, and sore, and you really don’t want to wake up at 4 am to run of all things.
But then towards the end of training you become excited about the race itself—also nervous, but mostly excited (because if nothing else, it means training is nearly over!) And once you’ve done all of your training you get to the starting line, butterflies in your stomach, and know that you just need to settle in for a few hours, remember all you learned during training, and just execute.
Participating in the Sticky Faith Cohort is a lot like a long-distance race. If that sounds odd, let me explain.
At the beginning of our team’s journey with Sticky Faith, we were very excited for what was to come. But we had very little idea what it would actually be like. We knew it wasn’t a “typical” conference, but didn’t have much context for what that would mean. We prepared: we got approval, assembled our team, read Sticky Faith, booked our flights … We did all the things that we could control to get our bodies in the right place. Then we met leaders from all over the country who had prepared in similar ways. And we met leaders from the Fuller Youth Institute who had been preparing for us. All that preparation paid off.
The Cohort itself is an incredible opportunity to connect with your team, teams from around the country, and leaders from FYI. But more than that, it equips you with information you can act on and the resources to do so. The most helpful aspect of the Cohort for us was the amount of time given for team processing after each session. We could immediately begin brainstorming and dreaming about how the research could apply to our ministry setting.
The Cohort meets in person in February and October. And honestly, the time between Cohort summits is probably the most difficult. You’re excited to make headway, but you feel a little “stuck in the middle.” Thankfully, FYI prepares you for the in-the-middle feelings by surrounding you with a community of people to reach out to, as well as an experienced coach. These resources were invaluable to us during the in-between time.
As we worked on our Breakthrough Plan, had questions, and got stuck, we were never alone. And though the in-between time was a struggle, it was a very good and necessary struggle for our team. This time revealed to us where we weren’t on the same page and why; it helped us translate the Sticky Faith language and research to our own church culture; and it allowed us to ask questions in real-time ministry situations.
By the time our team reached the second Cohort summit, we were ready to see our plan through. We knew it would take a while (actually we learned that thanks to our coach), and knew that it would require everyone on staff, but we felt fully trained and prepared.
I am convinced that the hard work and focus of a yearlong Cohort is absolutely necessary for long-term change in your church. It was for ours. We finished the Cohort in December 2015, and this year we are beginning to see the fruit of our labor. We’ve settled in and are running our race.
Just recently I was on the phone with another ministry leader who I met at the cohort, and we got to encourage each other in the work that each church is doing. A few weeks prior to that, our coach from the cohort led a training event with our student ministry leaders. I tallied up all of the noticeable changes that have been made in our church as a result of the Cohort. It’s over a dozen; a dozen changes that, with God’s help, will make an eternal impact on the lives of our students and our community.
The reality is that the Cohort lasts for one year, but change in your church may take several years. It will also take a team of people willing to work towards that change. As it turns out, the yearlong Cohort becomes the training necessary for that change to come to fruition.
Want to learn more about the Sticky Faith Cohort?
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