Spirituality & Wisdom

Inspiring youth to develop character and moral virtues to equip them with to live with meaning and purpose.

"Pursuing and understanding our own unique spiritual gifts, our own passions, our competencies, our natural proclivities is very much part of our vocation and part of our calling to humans."

Dr. Pam King

Thrive Center Faculty

Recent Articles

Finding Anchoring Rituals in Times like COVID-19

By Esther Tan | Jul 30, 2020

Thrive Scholars Fellow, Esther Tan shares her COVID-19 experience and how anchoring rituals have helped her find resilience.

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5 Joy Competencies to Counter the Effects of Confinement During COVID-19, Pt. 2

By Fred Defoy | Jul 23, 2020

Thrive Scholars Fellow, Fred Defoy discusses spiritual joy and vocational joy as resources to help us thrive in hard times.

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Third Culture Kids During Quarantine: Adaptability and Purpose

By Esther Tan | Jul 1, 2020

Thrive Fellow, Esther Tan interviews an adult Third Culture Kid on how purpose has helped him navigate through COVID-19.

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5 Joy Competencies to Counter the Effects of Confinement During COVID-19, Pt. 1

By Fred Defoy | Jun 15, 2020

Thrive fellow, Fred Defoy shares the first 3 joy competencies that can help us thrive through our bodies, creativity, and sense of belonging.

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Planting Seeds of Healing Through Spirituality

By Stephanie Trudeau | Apr 30, 2020

Dr. Stephanie Trudeau provides ways spirituality can be resource for healing within ourselves and our families.

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Staying Grounded, Connected, and Directed through Disruption

By Pam King | Apr 23, 2020

Dr. Pam discusses how spirituality can help us stay grounded, connected, and directed throughout challenges.

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On the Road to Healing: Meaning-Making and Beliefs During COVID-19

By Stephanie Trudeau | Apr 13, 2020

Dr. Stephanie Trudeau continues her discussion on loss, and how meaning-making and beliefs can guide us toward healing.

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Light in Darkness: Not a Wholly Unprecedented Holy Week

By Pam King | Apr 9, 2020

Dr. Pam King explores how our beliefs can bring hope and light to our lives during dark times like COVID-19.

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Homebound: Protecting Our Spiritual Health

By Thrive Center | Mar 26, 2020

Guest blogger, Dr. Angela Gorrell emphasizes the importance of nurturing our spiritual health in order to thrive during COVID-19.

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Changing Our Focus from Surviving to Thriving During COVID-19

By Pam King | Mar 12, 2020

Dr. Pam King reflects on the importance of contemplative practices to help us thrive during the coronavirus.

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Thriving on the Road to Joy

By Pam King | Jan 22, 2020

How can caring adults equip youth for a journey of long-lasting joy? Dr. Pam King highlights the 3 essentials needed.

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Orienting Ourselves through the Holi-daze

By Pam King | Dec 18, 2019

Are we thriving during the pre-holiday craze? Dr. Pam King reminds us about the importance of being mindful and orieinting our lives to what matters.

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Nurturing Joy in Youth During the Holidays, Pt. 2

By Fred Defoy | Dec 16, 2019

Thrive Fellow, Fred Defoy continues his discussion on the activators that promote joy in youth during the holidays.

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Nurturing Joy in Youth During the Holidays, Pt. 1

By Fred Defoy | Dec 9, 2019

How can we nurture joy in youth when faced by challenges? Thrive Fellow, Fred Defoy outlines the activators that can enable joy.

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The MDAS Scale

(King & Colleagues, 2016)

Building on existing theory and research, the Measure of Diverse Adolescent Spirituality (MDAS)* scale is a multidimensional measure of adolescent spirituality, including those who self-identify as spiritual outside of a religious tradition. Specifically, the MDAS is intended to explore the extent to which spiritual development takes place as youth experience transcendence in a manner that informs their beliefs and commitments, or fidelity, and motivates them to live in the world in a manner beneficial to self and others.

*Please contact us at thrivecenter@fuller.edu for permission to use this scale for research.

More Resources on Spirituality

Joy Practices for Youth Ministry

[Book] Learn how to embrace and enhance joy in your youth ministry through research-based practices.

Cultivating & Experiencing Joy

[Guide] Discover how to cultivate and experience true joy with 4 daily practices.


Technology & Thriving

[Article] Read Dr. King's 3 tips on how technology can serve as a potential source for transformation and thriving.

Girl praying towards heaven

Youth Religion & Spirituality

[Guide] Learn about the 3 dimensions of religion and spirituality that promote thriving in youth.

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A Response to Atonement

[Video] Dr. King speaks on how renewal occurs through our relationship with God.

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A Response to Grace

[Video] Dr. King discusses concepts of grace as a spiritual and transformative experience.

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Helping Youth With Failure

[Podcast] Dr. King reflects on purpose, spirituality, and social connection as assets for overcoming failure.

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Spiritual Growth in Children Ministry

[Book] Discover research-based practices to effectively nurture and strengthen kids' spirituality.

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Evolution & Image Bearers, Pt 2

[Article] Dr. King and Greenway continue to explore how we bear God's image at different development stages.

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Evolution & Image Bearers, Pt 1

[Article] Dr. King and Greenway examine what it means to be made in the image of God.

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Hope & Humility as Virtues

[Video] Dr. King speaks on hope as an anchor for our relationships to God and others.

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Practical Applications of Telos

[Video] Dr. King shares 3 ways to help youth find and understand their purpose.

See Our Research on Spirituality & Wisdom

Ongoing Studies

The Joyride Project

Dr. King’s explores the nature of joy and how to nurture joy in youth in order to promote thriving.

Spiritual Exemplars Project

A continuation study, Dr. King follows up on the spiritual journeys of elected youth exemplars.

CI Study of Positive Youth Development

Dr. King and partners study the impact of Compassion International’s program on diverse impoverished youth.

Completed Studies

Spiritual Transformation in Youth Camps

Research by Drs. Schnitker and Barrett indicates when and why camp experiences bring spiritual transformation.

Relational Capacity in Youth Ministries

How does the number of personal relationships affect youth workers and ministries? Dr. Barrett investigated.

Evolution in Human Thriving

Drs. King, Barrett, and Furrow engaged theologians and psychologists on evolutionary psychology, spirituality, and thriving.

Goals, Virtues & Well-Being

Does goal satisfaction increase goal achievement? Dr. Schnitker examines personality dynamics.

Good Physician Project

Longitudinal study by Dr. Schnitker to explore virtue formation in good physicians.

Love Thy Neighbor Project

Dr. Schnitker examines the connection between intercessory prayer and generous behavior.

Publications on Spirituality

Religion as Fertile Ground

Drs. King, Schnitker, and Houltberg provide an overview of how religion is linked to moral and virtue development in youth.

Joy as a Virtue: the Means & Ends of Joy

Dr. King and Thrive Fellow, Defoy propose a definition and framework for understanding joy through thriving.

Exploring Religiousness & Hope Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team test whether religiousness is related to hopeful future expectations.

Joy Distinguished

Dr. King provides a teleological perspective on joy as a virtue that can lead to thriving.

Evaluating the MDAS in Mexican & Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team apply the MDAS to indicate the extent to which spirituality was integrated into the lives of youth.

Adolescent Religion & Spirituality

Drs. King and Hardy capture the latest research on religion and spirituality for youth thriving in this special issue.

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Different Styles Reach Different Kids

S. Schnitker, J. Barrett, R. Emmons, & T. Porter

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Attachment Predicts Conversions at Religious Summer Camp

S. Schnitker, J. Barrett, R. Emmons, & T. Porter

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Virtue Development Following Religious Summer Camp

S. Schnitker, J. Barrett, R. Emmons, & T.J. Felke

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Spiritual Transformation in Religious Summer Camp

S. Schnitker, J. Barrett, R. Emmons, & T.J. Felke

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Loving God, Loving Others

Drs. Moore, Hill, King, et al. examine the link between a relationship with God and others, particularly among Protestant families.

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Measuring Spirituality, Hope, & Thriving Among Salvadoran Youth

The CI research team compare youth enrolled in CI to youth not enrolled in CI, examining spirituality, hope, and PYD.