There is a difference in secular youth development organizations and your children’s ministry. The dissonance ranges from church to church, but by far the largest difference is the presence of the gospel intentionally woven into lessons and activities. Beyond this difference I think children’s ministries have a lot to learn from secular youth development practices. One of the biggest take aways from my time studying youth development at Texas A&M University was the accountability system in youth organizations created by the Search Institute called the 40 Developmental Assets®.
Through the link you can find many different Models for the different age cohorts. Each list is broken down into two main sections, which are external and internal assets. The external assets include family support, other adult relationships, high expectations, child programs, religious community and others. The internal assets can be reading for pleasure, integrity, interpersonal competence, resistance skills, self esteem and others.
Some assets I found particularly valuable to consider were:
The more assets a youth owns the more likely they are to become fully functional adults in the future. The combination of internal and external assets are instrumental in the development of a child. It could be advantagous for you to put this list against what you are doing in your children’s ministry. How are you developing a sense of purpose in your kids, how are you letting the community see the value in their youth, what ways can you help kids develop planning and decision making skills within your ministry?