Book Review: Sticky Faith Launch Kit

About three years ago I read Sticky Faith and fell in love with its offerings and suggestions to push back against the trends that happen with students in our churches dropping out from them after High School.

Following that first interaction, I used the 5-session parenting class several times and found it to be a significant help to churches.

Over the summer the folks at Sticky Faith announced that the Launch Kit was in publication and that it would be released in the fall. As soon as I read that, I pre-ordered it and a few weeks ago I received it. As I opened it up, not even knowing the scope or purpose of it, I quickly fell in love with it.

One of the reoccurring reports is that churches are failing at retaining teens beyond the high school years, and some of the bloggers and theorists go so far as to suggest that churches should scrap functional and organized youth ministries, and sometimes they even point their finger at these youth ministries for being the reason that this happens.

I really want to push back on that suggestion. One of the things that I think about is the work of the pendulum. A pendulum swings from extreme to extreme but in the end when it comes to rest, it rests in the center. As I relate that to this, maybe the church has erred in compartmentalizing youth ministry, but the swing of the pendulum to dismiss youth ministry is the other far extreme. Rather, what if the ‘at rest’ place was where we needed to be? That is what I believe the launch kit can bring us to understand.

The Launch Kit is not a textbook, but it is more of a workbook. And it’s not a workbook meant for one person to use for their own area of ministry; it’s a workbook meant for perhaps one person to take in all the details and then use it as a tool with the rest of the church to bring to the church a healthier approach towards integrating children, teens and families into the whole church.

The book is set up with 4 main sections:

     -The first deals with changes that need to happen in the church today.
          o Leaving the moralistic goals and moving to the gospel
          o Leaving the model of sectioning off age groups and moving to a model that sees everyone at the same table at the same time

          o And while this section aims at these things it gives tools to help these things to happen and to be understood in the context of the church that the reader is in. These tools are surveys, email templates, videos and handouts.

     -The second deals with building a leadership team committed to leading these changes.
          o It offers tools to develop a meeting schedule that advances at forward-moving pace while at the same time not moving too slow or too fast.

          o It offers a meeting schedule and agenda to help move the process along.

     -The third section deals with how to prepare the parents of our children and teens.
          o It offers the tools for hosting parenting forums and a parents’ seminar so you can get the issues in front of parents via discussion instead of just telling them the problems.
          o It offers a communication strategy to keep the leader moving along in a way that draws people in and keeps them in an ongoing dialogue.

          o It offers to the parents and the larger church a great tool of making suggestions for ways to implement changes together in the family and in the church at large.

     -The fourth deals with taking this message to the whole church.
          o This section deals with getting churches to see the need to get away from compartmentalized ministry as the only way we do ministry.
          o This section deals with the speed and pace of change

          o This section deals with giving tips to the lead player in a church who seeks to bring these changes to keep them on task and to help prevent them from getting drawn into potential pitfalls

This workbook is priceless. I know that the church for the last 20 years has gone through phases where we’ve adopted different ministry modes (i.e. – The Purpose-Driven Church amongst many other) and while some might look to this book in similar ways I really do feel that the way it is set up is free from a “you MUST do it this way” sort of mentality. It’s set up to bring correctives to our churches which are based on years of critical research in significant and meaningful ways.

For me personally, I am going to present this to the leadership of my church and I hope to digest this work and hire a coach from Fuller Youth Institute. You can read up on this at

Rev. Mark Johannesen is pastor at Word of Life Lutheran Brethren Church in LeSueur, Minnesota.
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