Youth Ministry Resources
There are an amazing variety and number of resources out there for youth and the adults who support them in youth ministry and religious exploration (RE) programs. Here are some of the best.
Resources for Congregational Youth Ministry
- Youth Ministry and Intergenerational Connections. This guide provides concrete ideas and action plans to help congregations support youth programs, and create meaningful relationships between people of all ages. (CUC, 2020)
- Developing a Youth Ministry Vision. A resource for congregations to evaluate or develop a vision for local youth programs, set an age range, and understand the key elements of healthy youth ministry. (CUC, 2020)
- Building a Youth Advisor Team. Concrete tips and step-by-step guidelines for recruiting and selecting youth advisors and adult allies for local youth programs. Includes sample job descriptions and for paid and volunteer adult positions. (CUC, 2020)
- The UUA’s Youth Ministry page. Comprehensive resources on youth ministry.
- Blue Boat blog. The blog of the UUA’s Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. Follow it to stay up to date with new resources and the latest thinking about youth ministry.
- Adults in Youth Ministry. Excellent articles and resources for advisors and other adults working with youth in a congregation.
- Competencies for Ministry to and with Youth, Eight vital areas of development for volunteers, staff, and professionals in youth ministry. The competencies are a great resource for RE professionals who are supporting and training youth advisors. They also offer youth advisors standards to reach for and ways to develop in their role.
- WorshipWeb. A treasure trove of prayers, stories, readings, images, sermons, and rituals, maintained by the UUA. You can find information on multicultural and multigenerational worship, suggestions for incorporating music and technology, and much more. Try searching for spiritual themes like “youth/teens” or “young adults,” or for occasions like “coming of age”!
- Multigenerational Worship. Resources and ideas for planning successful, engaging worship services for all ages.
- Youth Spirituality and Worship. A great collection of ideas, links, and resources for planning worship in a youth group, a youth event, or a multigenerational setting. Also includes resources for small group ministry.
Books to use for worship:
- Singing the Living Tradition and Singing the Journey (the grey and teal hymnals)
- inSpirit series titles from Skinner House Books
- Earth Prayers from around the World, by Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (HarperOne, 2011)
- Rise Up Singing: The Group Singing Songbook, by Peter Blood, Annie Patterson, and Kore Loy McWhirter (Sing Out, 2004)
- Soulful Sundown: Re-imagining Unitarian Universalist Worship for Young Adults, by Marlin Lavanhar (UUA, 1999)
Must-Have Books for Adults Working with Youth
- Youth Ministry Advising: Second Edition, by the Lifespan Faith Engagement staff team of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA, 2019)
This is an excellent handbook for youth advisors and other adult allies and highly recommended as the primary resource for local youth ministry. “Youth Ministry Advising offers a full complement of tools and strategies for youth advisors and religious educators, ministers, and other adults who are committed to this dynamic vision of ministry. This complete guide covers a wide range of topics, including how to recruit and support youth advisors, the essentials of youth group management, the roles of youth and advisors in creating a safer space, leadership training, and programming and project ideas.”
- Sustainable Youth Ministry: Why Most Youth Ministry Doesn’t Last and What Your Church Can Do about It, by Mark DeVries (InterVarsity, 2013)
Although this book is written from a Christian perspective, it is applicable to our UU context. DeVries discusses the congregational structures and systems needed to support a thriving youth ministry. Especially good for RE professionals who are responsible for youth programs.
- Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus with Young People, by Mark Yaconelli (Zondervan, 2011)
This book also comes from a Christian perspective, but don’t be put off by the difference in theology. The practices and approaches it offers can easily be adapted to UU youth ministry. Yaconelli offers a range of contemplative activities that encourage adults to walk beside youth in their lives, allow youth to listen to and care deeply for one another, and help youth feel awe and recognize the presence of the divine in their lives. Recommended for advisors and RE professionals who want to develop a new approach or delve deeper into the philosophy of working with youth.
- Bridging: A Handbook for Congregations, by Gail Forsyth-Vail and Jessica York (UUA, 2012)
This handbook offers a flexible year-long curriculum for a program marking the transition from youth to young adulthood. Supporting youth as they cross over into young adulthood is an important and often overlooked part of youth ministry, and it is an enormous help in retaining our young UUs.
- To This I Give My Heart: A Coming of Age Journal, by Bart Frost (UUA, 2017)
This journal is designed as a companion and guide to accompany a year-long coming of age class or youth group discussions. It offers prompts, quotes, and creative exercises that help youth explore UU history and theology, spirituality, community, leadership, and their personal beliefs and identity, as they think through challenging questions and deepen their relationship to their faith and their community.
This Leader’s Guide and FAQ may be helpful for RE teachers, advisors, and parents who are interested in using the journal.
- When Youth Lead: A Guide to Intergenerational Social Justice Ministry (Plus 101 Youth Projects), by Jill M. Schwendeman (UUA, 2007)
Schwendeman offers guidance, suggestions, and advice for constructing and maintaining a healthy and spiritually vital youth ministry, with a focus on social justice work. She demonstrates how social justice work can be an effective tool for bringing the generations together and building strong partnerships between children, youth, adults, and elders.
- Full Circle: Fifteen Ways to Grow Lifelong UUs, by Kate Tweedie Erslev (UUA, 2004)
Many UU congregations have asked about their members, “Why do they leave?” Kate Erslev asks, “Why do they stay?” Here she explores the 15 common threads that lifelong UUs identified as critical in their commitment to their faith. Erslev surveyed and interviewed 82 people from ages 25 to 87 who were raised as UUs. A lifelong UU herself, Erslev has been an RE director for over 20 years. Recommended for ministers and RE professionals who want to nurture bridging youth and retain young people in our congregations.