Book review: Made to Stick

made_to_stickYou have got to read this book. It is by far one of the most challenging, yet practical non-Christian books I’ve read in a long time. It’s informative, engaging, funny, and incredibly useful for youth ministry.

I’m talking about Made to Stick, written by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. This book answers the question why some ideas ‘stick’ to be remembered and why many others die. It offers a wide range if academic research to support their ideas, yet the book is full of stories that keep you engaged and help you understand their point. No wonder, as the power of a good story is one of the key elements of this book.

The stupid thing is that I’ve had this book for more than two years (I bought after hearing the Heath brothers on a leadership conference) but never got around to reading it. I’m so glad I finally read it!

Here’s what the authors advice on how to make ideas stick:

  1. Simplicity: get to the core of your idea, create ideas that are both simple and profound
  2. Unexpectedness: generate interest and curiosity
  3. Concreteness: explain your ideas in terms of sensory information, human actions.
  4. Credibility: create ideas that carry their own credentials, that show authority
  5. Emotions: make people feel something about your idea, elicit emotions
  6. Stories: stories not only captivate, they actually help us prepare better for the future

Each of these principles is explained in the book with many research to back it up, but also with great examples that show the truth of what the authors are saying. So yes, they’re definitely practicing what they preach…their ideas certainly stuck with me!

You may wonder how this applies to youth ministry. Here’s just one example: in the chapter on ‘Unexpectedness’ the authors explain how to create an interest. One of the ways to do that is to create a ‘mystery’, to explain a problem in a way that students want to solve it. Our minds are wired such that we want to fill that gap in our knowledge, we want closure. So we keep listening, trying to figure it out until we have a solution. We can use this ‘gap theory’ of curiosity to engage our students when we teach! What a powerful tool to keep their interest

It’s just one of the truly many applications I immediately saw for the knowledge and insights I gained through this book. There are so many ideas that we want to communicate to our students and most of them have eternal value. I think we owe it to them to do everything we can to make sure our ideas ‘stick’. The insights from this book will really help you improve your teaching, your small group studies, your sermons, everything you communicate. As a matter of fact, I’ll be reading it again so I can write down all ideas and statements I can use in youth ministry. A must-read!


    • Rachel says

      I have Switch as well, but I haven’t read it yet…but after reading Made to Stick I definitely will. I’ve learned so much from it that I’m thinking about doing a whole post on how we can apply that book in youth ministry. Let me know what you think after you’ve read it!

  1. Dr John Bonnici Mallia says

    I would like to know where to get this book “Made to Stick” and its ISBN please.


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