Sticky Faith Summit – Chap Clark – Sessions 3 & 4

Sticky Faith

Session #3

Dr. Chap Clark

Cultural and Developmental Context
Findings from Hurt Study
A. Absent faith?
Christian Smith (Moralistic Therapeutic Deism)

Hurt and Hurt 2.0
B. Adolescence is lengthening

  • Historically, it has been in fixed stages (Piaget, Erikson)
  • Cultural response is that kids have been “hurried” into growing up way too fast
  • One of the big issues is that adolescence is a journey to adulthood that you have to figure out on your own
  • The average age of puberty in girls is when guys and girls begin asking adolescent questions.  Kids have to figure out who they think they are AND who everyone else thinks they are.
  • Pre-1900 – Female Puberty was 14.5  – Culture said you were an adult around 16
  • In 1900, 1% of kids high school aged went to a “high school”
  • 1970 – 1980 – Female Puberty was around 13 – Culture said you were an adult around 18/20
  • As adults, we think adolescence was great, but one look through a yearbook from high school reminds us of the brokenness of reality
  • Sticky Faith completely falls apart if adults aren’t willing to do their own work
  • One of the greatest problems in the church is the unwillingness of senior leadership to face and deal with their own wounds
  • Today – Female Puberty is around 11/12 – Culture says an adult in mid-20’s
  • Social environment impacts female puberty.  One study by NPR says that girls with a close relationship with their dad hits puberty six months later than a girl not close to her dad.
  • As a kid moves from childhood to adulthood, they move from dependent on their parents to interdependent of the community.  For centuries this process only took a couple of years around age 14/15.
  • In the 1930’s – 1990’s, kids left the dependent stage around 13, and moved into interdependent around 18/20.  The problem was the move from concrete to abstract stays around 14/15.
  • For centuries, a person’s uniqueness was decided by family/community.  In the last century, uniqueness became personal.
  • Currently, kids leave the dependent stage at 12, and don’t land on interdependent until mid 20’s.  Chap calls it Egocentric Abstraction
  • If you think of the teenage mind as a car, they acquire an accelerator long before they acquire the ability to steer or break. – Alison Gopnik WSJ Jan 28 2012
  • Now, a fourth stage has come about “Emerging Adulthood” in the late 20’s/early 30’s.
Sticky Faith

Session #4

Dr. Chap Clark



  • In the1930’s, each state chose to mandate public high school.  The purpose was to train students to become adults.  It was a partnership between teachers and parents.
  • Denise Clark Pope – Doing School (p.156) Schools may be encouraging deception and cheating by requiring everyone to conform to a data set.
  • The state of postmodern kids has shown that the skill set of kids to manage adulthood is rising but the ongoing adult support and guidance has declined.
  • In this, around the 1970’s, life became more difficult than kids had skills for and there were less adults around to help.  This study was done in 1989.  How is it now?
  • Adolescence has extended because life has become more complicated and teens have less adults to help them figure it out.


  • The church decided to get kids fired up with youth group
  • Discipleship has become a system where individuals make individual decisions about an individual relationship.
  • The structure of the church has all of the family divided up in silo’s to allow them to make individual decisions.
  • We need to understand that the family is a system, and when you ignore one part the whole family suffers.
  • The fragmentation of the church began with youth ministry

Theology of Christian Discipleship
The Goal of Adolescent Ministry: Adoption into the body of Christ.
The adults in the church have to be willing to change what they see church as, how they interact, etc.  If they don’t, it’s assimilation, not adoption.
Healthy and Consistent Attachment
Kids under 12 need to have a “maternal attachment” – 1 Corinthians 2 – it’s the style of the issue, not the gender.  gentle, safe, secure
In adolescence, they need a “paternal attachment” – The style is to encourage, comfort, and to support

  • Can I trust my dad?
  • Can I communicate with my dad?
  • Can I have an emotional attachment with my dad?

In the mid-20’s they need to have community attachment
As kids walk the tight rope from childhood to adulthood, they need a safety net.
If there are holes in the net, many people want the “youth professional” to fix it.  We tell kids we will be there for them, and then we have to leave.
A youth pastor can be one voice, but just one.  Every kid needs a lot of voices in their lives, a lot of people to be around to catch them when they fall through the net, to cheer when they stay on the tightrope.
We need to create a community for every kid.

Developing Adolescent Faith

  1. Model authentic faith for the kids – EVERY adult becomes a youth pastor to EVERY kid in the congregation
  2. Encourage provocative conversation
  3. Lead with gentleness
  4. Comfort, encourage, and be a fan (1 Thessalonians 2:7,8)
  5. Introduce them to the real Jesus
  6. Teach / lead with justice

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