Fuller Youth Institute Receives Grant to Research Character and Virtue in Young People

The Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) was recently awarded a $234,797 grant from the John
Templeton Foundation to help Christian congregations better instill in young people key virtues and components of character. As research into character and virtue development (or CVD) in adolescence continues to grow, the local congregation is often an untapped resource to help disseminate this work. The Character and Virtue Development in Youth Ministry Planning Project (or CVDYM) seeks to help local congregations by providing relevant youth ministry resources to train young people in the development of character and virtues. Kara Powell, executive director of FYI, Brad Griffin, FYI director, and Tyler Greenway, FYI research director, will be leading the project.

“The Fuller Youth Institute is excited about the opportunity to bring the wealth of character and virtue development research to the youth ministry world,” said Powell. “Through this project, we hope to provide youth ministry leaders with resources that are both based on the highest-quality research and readily applicable to their ministry. We look forward to gathering with national and denominational leaders to hear how further research can be best conducted in their contexts and what resources are most needed by youth leaders.”

The CVDYM Planning Project will identify three to eight virtues especially relevant for youth ministry today and generate commitment to character and virtue development among practitioners and national youth ministry leaders. Activities of the project include

  • a thorough review of CVD research centering on areas requiring contextualization in order for interventions to be implemented in congregations;
  • a two-day CVD summit uniting 20—30 church leaders and academics that will help reveal those virtues that are most needed in youth ministry contexts; and
  • the creation of a Request for Proposals process for including four to eight mid-sized organizations and/or church denominations in the next step of research and resource development.

“We are incredibly thankful for the John Templeton Foundation’s generous support of the Fuller Youth Institute’s work,” said Tod Bolsinger, vice president and chief of leadership formation. “The research and resources generated by this project will serve youth ministry leaders as they form young people in a rapidly changing world.  Virtue development has always been a core element of Christian discipleship, and we’re excited to see how the research of this project will better serve the church and it’s young people.”

The CVDYM Planning Project will provide helpful resources for congregations based on the outcomes of the project. Resources will include an online summary of existing research, a two to four-part article series summarizing the summit discussions and findings shared with leaders connected to the Fuller Youth Institute network, and the development of a proposal for a subsequent multi-year project to launch and assess cohorts of CVD-focused churches and create further resources. The CVDYM Planning Project lays the groundwork to mobilize church youth pastors to focus their teaching and relational resources on CVD, unleashing a new wave of empowered adolescents to impact churches, families, and communities nationwide.