At 14, the breakup of Ian’s family shook him to the core. He questioned who he was, where he belonged, and whether or not anyone really cared.
Thankfully, a friend invited Ian to youth group at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The church soon became Ian’s refuge. The warm greeting he received from both teenagers and adults showed Ian that he had a new home and a new “family” that cared about him.
While the congregation had always said they wanted to help young people know they belong, it was the church’s participation in FYI’s yearlong Sticky Faith Cohort that showed them how to turn that vision into reality.
The church fully embraced Sticky Faith’s teaching that every kid needs five adults who are on their team. Who support them. Who are consistent.
Ian’s small group leader, Jon, was one of Ian’s five. Jon came to Ian’s basketball games. He helped Ian and the other boys in his small group memorize Scripture. Jon and his wife even relocated, moving to a house closer to where Ian and the other guys from his small group lived, so he could be near “his guys.”
Because Mars Hill also plunged into FYI’s Sticky Faith Service resources, Jon and other church leaders were able to help Ian discover his purpose. The youth ministry had always done mission trips.
Through FYI, the church learned to maximize serve opportunities by creating a healthy process for students to experience service, receive encouraging feedback, and learn spiritual practices to help them reflect.
Ian went on every trip, and his heart became captivated by the needs of people in Michigan and beyond.
Because of the way Sticky Faith also shaped Mars Hill’s teaching, Ian came to realize his identity is grounded in God’s grace.
When Ian blew it, Jon and other adults reminded him of a core Sticky Faith principle: “Jesus is bigger than any mistake.”
Jon keeps in touch and has coffee with Ian every time he is home from college. Ian’s decided to study social work so that he can help others experience the unconditional love and acceptance he found through Sticky Faith.
Because of FYI, Ian’s faith has stuck.
Ian’s story shows that when young people are surrounded by a loving Christian community, they are positioned to become everything God intended for them.