Guest Post By: Kara Powell and Brad Griffin lead the team at the Fuller Youth Institute, and along with Chap Clark, have co-authored several Sticky Faith books and curriculum projects geared to give students faith that lasts.

Picture six of your students in your mind.

Now fast-forward to one year after they leave high school. If you’re like most youth ministries, how many of those six students will feel like you prepared them for what they would face after graduation?


Just one.

As soon as we unearthed that data during our six years of Sticky Faith research, we started asking youth group alumni more about how they wish their youth leaders had better equipped them. Their answers formed the bones of our new Sticky Faith Teen Curriculum. The good news is that it’s not too late to start training your seniors, and it’s not too early to start thinking about how you want to prepare your seniors in future years.

Interestingly, our interviews and surveys with youth group alumni have shown that parents and leaders can help students succeed by preparing them in two ways:

1. The Deep Stuff (how’s that for a very technical research term?!?)

Fundamental to a student’s spiritual journey (or an adult’s for that matter) are two threads: their view of the gospel, and their view of themselves (aka their identity). Do your students know a gospel that is big enough to handle their inevitable failures post-college? Do they know that Jesus is bigger than any of their mistakes? Have they identified folks to talk to through the highs and lows of their transition to college, the military, or the workforce?

2. The Daily Stuff

Any given hour or day, it’s not the big questions about life and God that paralyze or propel students. It’s their stack of laundry. It’s their sense of being overwhelmed by their homework. It’s their fear of gaining the Freshman 15. It’s the self-discipline it takes to make it to a church or on-campus ministry.

As you think about your ministry or your discussions as a family, in which of these two Sticky Faith areas do you feel your students are better prepared? If your strength is the “deep” stuff, then maybe you need to take seniors to a grocery store and have them fill a cart with $50 worth of groceries to feed themselves for ten days (one youth leader we know actually does this with students). Or perhaps your next step is to help seniors develop a schedule for their first two weeks (a pivotal, trajectory-setting time of making decisions) that includes time for homework, friends, church, and down time.

If your strength is on the “daily” questions, then maybe it’s time to start sharing more about your own struggles after high school, and how you stayed close to (or strayed from) God. Perhaps you want to work with your seniors to understand Paul’s powerful truth in Romans that it’s God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, to prepare them for the way they will stumble and perhaps fall in the future. You might want to make a commitment to contact your students every week or two during those first few months of college to talk (or text) through what they are facing

One out of six is far from acceptable. With your own students, it’s not too late to beat those odds.

Want to find out more about Sticky Faith research on preparing seniors for graduation? Join Kara and Brad for a 30 minute free webcast of research-based ideas for equipping your high school seniors next Tuesday, Feb. 7, 10:00-10:30 am PST at

Question: Which is more difficult for you–the deep stuff or the daily stuff? Share why here.

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