Youth Ministry Studies

Youth ministers help children and adolescents understand religion and the Bible through a variety of sermons and activities. Continue reading to learn more about the academic programs and career opportunities for youth ministers.

Is Youth Ministry for Me?

Career Overview

Youth ministers teach children, adolescents and young adults about faith and religion. In this field, you'll engage young people, provide Biblical instruction, offer spiritual counseling and organize activities. You can prepare for this vocation through certificate, bachelor's degree and master's degree programs in youth ministry offered at several theological schools. Becoming a youth minister could also serve as a preparatory step toward leading a group or church as a pastor, priest or chaplain.

Youth ministry positions, including youth pastor, youth director, children's minister, youth ministry director and religious education director, generally require you to develop and implement religious education programs for children. As a youth minister, you could assign volunteers to act as mentors and help with the activities. You might meet with teens who are struggling with issues of faith or life, such as health, family or financial problems. You might provide classroom study and activities for children during church services as well as coordinate extracurricular events, such as camp-outs, field trips or retreats.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for all clergy in 2013 was $43,800, and jobs were projected to increase at an average rate of 10% from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). Payscale.com reported that the salary for the majority of youth ministers ranged from $17,338-$46,948 as of April 2014.

How Can I Become a Youth Minister?

Undergraduate Options

Private theological colleges and universities typically offer youth ministry degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels. Courses in a bachelor's degree program in youth ministry, Biblical studies or Christian ministry cover theology, family studies, child counseling, Biblical interpretation, religious education, small group leadership and youth evangelism. You might be encouraged or required to volunteer or complete an internship at a church or outreach organization to acquire practical ministry experience. After graduation, you could work as a youth pastor, young adult counselor, youth group leader or church camp counselor.

Graduate Education

Graduate certificate programs are also available in this field. In your coursework, you'll explore the differences between working with youths and adults in a religious setting, plan ministry events for adolescents and master evangelistic methods. You might also study ways to encourage faith in teens and train them to grow in their faith. This could lead to a career as a youth pastor or youth leader at a church or community youth group.

Other options include entering a seminary or university to pursue a master's degree in youth ministry. Through a master's degree program, you'll learn how to demonstrate spiritual maturity and prepare to lead a youth ministry program. Courses can teach you how to help students through difficult times in their life, such as their parents' divorce, struggles with sexuality or a lack of faith. You'll learn how to communicate effectively with young congregation members and also evaluate methods for reaching teens by assessing the strengths and weaknesses of established religious programs. You could need to complete a field experience, which might include working with teens from other cultures. In addition to working as a youth pastor or youth leader, you could pursue a position as a manager of a community center or an activities director at a youth outreach center.

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