Christian After-School Programs: Why Just Activity?

By Wanda Parker

Why do Christian ministries end up just doing activity rather than truly helping children and teens to move from their at-risk status?

In Monday’s post I mentioned three large ministries who have each been doing ministry with at-risk kids for more than 30 years; each ministry admitted to me that they had few results to show for their 30 years.  These are large ministries with large facilities to maintain, but minimum-low-paid-staff.

When ever I share the intense youth development model which involves working with the whole child and intentionally involved in the family I hear the same lament, “But but what about our donors?  We can’t do what you are suggesting because we would have to work with fewer kids and our donors want to hear that we are working with large numbers of kids.”

But what kind of results are you getting?”  I ask. Over and over I will get a sheepish response that there isn’t much lasting change in their kids.

So basically the donors are throwing their money away – they might as well burn it.

It is our job to educate the donor!

Don’t compromise your ministry for the all-mighty-dollar.  Don’t turn your back on the real needs of the kids because you are afraid to educate your donors, or you aren’t willing to put in the effort to do it. 

Today’s research is showing that most mentoring programs are failing.  Yes there may be immediate results, like grades improving, but these changes are not long lasting.  Look up Bonnie Benard, Dr. David DuBois, and Emmy E. Werner, study their research.

Research shows that kids need intentional, long-lasting relationship with emotionally healthy, critical-thinking, energetic adults.  For at-risk kids this means they need a Secondary Nurturer  (check out the White Paper)in their lives.

I believe it is possible for us to also meet the WANTS of our donors and the NEEDS of the kids – you just have to be creative.  KidTrek is working with ministries who are doing just that. 

Do you need to rethink how you are doing ministry?  Are you a donor who needs to rethink what you demand of ministries you support?

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