ACEs & Assets: Empirical Evidence For The Value Of Youth Ministry

Posted on by YFC Seattle

By Warren Mainard, CORE & Youth Ministry Network Director

Recently, I asked Chris Gough from the Union Gospel Mission to come and share with our local youth ministry some incredibly important information about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) and the impact that has on young people in their formative years.  He also shared the incredible power of the 40 Developmental Assets (see resources below) to combat against these negative outcomes.  

This provides us with incredible hope and insight for how we best can minister to our students (and those students in our community).  It also gives us a powerful apologetic for why the local church and student ministry is so important for our community!

Here are some really practical take-aways that I would recommend:

  • Walk your students and leaders through the ACE Score. You may even have them share their own score privately or anonymously.  This could be an excellent way to talk about the brokenness of our world and how it all goes back to the fall of man in the garden of Eden. (See Genesis 3 and Romans 8:18-25)
  • Walk your students and leaders through the 40 Developmental Assets Checklist.  Reviewing the students score will give you great insight as to their needs from the ministry.  This may be a great time to talk about the Kingdom of God that Jesus is calling us to build and the Shalom that Jesus has promised to bring. (See Romans 14:17-19, Philippians 3:20 & 1 Peter 3:8-11)
  • Good Overcomes Evil.  A student with a 2 or higher on the ACE's score is significantly more likely to display at risk behavior.  Conversely, a student with a 30 or higher on the Assets score is significantly more likely to be able to overcome adverse experiences and exhibit healthy life patterns.  This may be a great opportunity to remind students that the light is more powerful than the dark and that we can overcome evil with good. (2 Corinthians 4:6 & Romans 12:2-21)
  • Youth Ministry Matters! Use this information to communicate the incredible power of youth ministry to your community.  Go through the Asset Checklist and ask- "Can/Does our Youth Ministry contribute toward positively influencing this asset?"  I went through this checklist on behalf of our CityLife program and scored a 34! What you do is so powerful!
  • Schedule Chris Gough ([email protected]) to come and share with your church or ministry.  Find out from Chris how he may be able to help you.

Student leaders, don't underestimate your ability to legitimately impact the trajectory of a young life!  The church is God’s Plan A for ushering in the new Kingdom into our broken world.  Student ministry meets students at the crossroads of their life and with the Gospel of Christ and the assets of a Christ-Centered community, we can overcome the ACE’s that are destroying many of our young people today.


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