Youth work has been called a lonely ministry; it shouldn’t be. It has been seen as a lowly, stepping-stone ministry to better things; this is a shame. Many youth leaders only last a short time in ministry, and the damage done to them within this time is well known. We can rectify these sad situations.
Youth ministry is about reaching young people and partnering with their parents. It is also about educating adults about the world and lives of young people, which can make for a dynamic church. Youth ministry is the responsibility of the whole church. Pastors must understand, commit to it and to its practitioners; they must also instruct adults. An adult committee should join leaders to pray, support, and strategize. A balanced leadership team can reach all types of personalities and display a healthy range of adult qualities and healthy relationships.
Youth ministry is more than hanging out with kids, allowing them to hang out with each other, and producing some interesting programs. It probes deeper hurts and issues in the lives of young people and calls them to radical commitment to Jesus Christ. Youth ministry without radical challenge and passionate response is not really going anywhere. These characteristics should not be confused with emotionalism and sensationalism. Young people want leaders who are “for real,” get to what’s really going on, and appeal to their idealism. They aren’t excited about joining church and society that function in customary complacency.
Youth ministry provides a safe place with caring mentors where a young person can hear someone else sharing her story until she gets the courage to share her (or his) own story. It is within this context youth can hear and deeply respond to the Great Story. Youth ministry is also about healing, reconciliation, empowerment, service, and worship.
Youth ministry is concerned with families, community, schools, peer groups, media and whatever affects young people. It focuses on the whole context for holistic and relevant ministry.
Aiming at such excellence demands training, some study, and sharing what we are learning and experiencing. This site is dedicated to providing such resources.
Youth Ministry Resources
We refer you to several levels of resource organizations:
For those beginning youth ministry
- Youth Ministry topic in our CYS Infopedia, including basic bibliography
- Barna – Excellent research and articles on today’s culture and Christian trends
- Fuller Youth Institute
- Denominational Resources (your own and others)
- Group Magazine
- Ministry Architects – See their section on Youth Ministry.
- National Network of Youth Ministries (NNYM) a comprehensive networking organization that helps organize youth ministers all over the world in localized youth minister networks for support and to further the spread of the Gospel.
- Reach Out
- Simply Youth Ministry – “Here to equip, connect, and recharge youth workers with the tools, relationships, and confidence they need to help teenagers develop a committed relationship with Jesus Christ.” A weekly ready-to-go youth ministry program, which explores the essential questions teens ask. The programs do require purchase, although there are some freebies and promos.
- Vibrant Faith – Previously The Youth & Family Institute, Vibrant Faith promotes a refocus on faith formation through engaging leaders in action-research projects, coaching, training, and digital strategies.
- The Youth Builder
- YouthMinistry.com – Out of Northwest Nazarene University
- “Youth Ministry 101: Outstanding Resources and Organizations“- From Online Seminary Schools, a listing of some of the best blogs, youth ministry groups, churches and volunteering organizations centered around youth ministry.
- Youth Specialties – Youth Specialties has the largest youth ministry conference nationally and is the publisher of YM books with Zondervan Press. Check out their Blogs on YM Resources, Youth Worker Development, The World of Youth Ministry and More.
- YouthWorker.com – Lots of resources for youth workers. Check out their Youth Worker eJournal.
For experienced youth ministers
- The above resources can take you higher.
- We hope this site can challenge your further study and use of challenging discussions to stretch the thinking of your students
- You may want to consider study by distance learning or nearby schools (see our Continuing Ed Section)
- Develop local networks of youth workers and a local resource center
For directors of programs, trainers and professors of youth ministry
In addition to all the above resources we refer you to three professional associations
- AYME (Association of Youth Ministry Educators) produces journal and holds annual conferences.
- IASYM (International Association for the Study of Youth Ministry) produces journal and convenes bi-annual central conferences and off-year regional conferences around the world.
- PRYME (Pastoral Resources for Youth Ministry Encouragement) seeks to mobilize and encourage a network of youth ministry veterans who are passionate about young people and committed to supporting those currently serving them.