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Youth Ministry 101

Every year, as school starts back up, I am asked, “Where do we start with a new year of youth ministry?”mosestabletlarge

1. Put together a team.
Who in your community is interested in this ministry also? Look for two parents, two youth, and two non-parents to start. Meet together, pray, and ask the question, “What should we do and why should we do it?”

2. Advertise and hold a kickoff meeting for parents.
Let the parents meet your youth team so they know there is a plan for the school year that is going to be great and that parents and their youth will want to be involved with this. Give them your answer to the question above–What should we do and why?–as well as a list of dates for the full year.

3. Meet with youth regularly.
Youth group meetings should be at least one hour and occur regularly, monthly or weekly, in the same location. For each meeting, make sure you have both some intentional fun and formation planned.

Here is a possible schedule of a typical 1 hour night
10 minutes- Welcome and check in with something active going on
20 minutes- A game or activity
20 minutes- Discussion about the activity
10 minutes- Close with prayer or Compline. Make sure the youth have the opportunity to lead compline and offer up their own prayer requests.
(Your group may want to meet longer or include a meal. If so adjust accordingly.)

In addition to these regular meeting nights, regularly schedule a night devoted to fun or a night devoted to service into your calendar. Be sure these take place at your regular meeting times so that visitors see the youth ministry at its usual time and place.

4. Find programming and content for your meetings. 
Virginia Theological Seminary and the Center for the Ministry of Teaching has made the Episcopal Curriculum for Youth freely available at www.vts.edu/cmt/published/ecy. Each unit is filled with great lessons that can be adapted to any situation. This also gives you a great theme to follow for a month of great youth programming.  The content was created about 20 years ago so needs to be translated into today’s culture but is free and good theology.

5. Find a network of youth ministers to share ideas with.
Are there youth ministers close to you who would like to meet for coffee? You may also want to join an organization like Forma at forma.church.  There you can be connected with thousands of Christian Formation people who are eager to learn from each other and support each other through.  Anyone can join their Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/EpiscoForma.

6. Take photos and communicate what you are doing.
A monthly email may be the best way to reach your families. Check out mailchimp.com for an easy, free solution for a weekly or monthly email newsletter where photos and announcements can be added.

Starting a Facebook Page for your youth group is a great way to let parents know what is going on. For youth you might want to check out Groupme.com as a safe texting platform.

7. Keep meeting with your youth team
Use these meetings to celebrate what is happening as well as evaluate the program. Always ask the questions
-How are things going?
-How can we do this better?
-What do we need to do to make that happen?

For help with any and all of these steps go to eycarkansas.org and or contact me at rcurtis@episcopalarkansas.org.

randall.curtis_1363664074_82Randall Curtis is the Ministry Developer for Young Adults and Youth for the Episcopal Church in Arkansas.  He lives in North Little Rock Arkansas with a bunch of tortoises, a cockerpug and a giant miniature Australian Shepherd.

One reply on “Youth Ministry 101”

Thanks for the shout-out to Episcopal Curriculum for Youth, Randall!

We always love to hear stories about how it’s being used around the church, so don’t hesitate to tell us yours at cmt@vts.edu

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