Those who are outgoing, self-disciplined, fun-loving, faithful individuals, passionate about working with young people and committed to leading by example in a church setting may do well to pursue a career as a youth minister. Good communication and a strong understanding of youth culture are imperative for those in this occupation, and public speaking skills are often required.
Though it’s very important for youth ministers to have a strong grasp on church doctrine, church history and scriptural teachings, it is perhaps more significant to be able to understand young people. Staying current with trends and topics that youth find important is crucial, and allows a youth minister to remain close to his or her group, offering counseling and advice when needed.
What Does a Youth Minister Do?
Specifically, it is the role of a youth minister to organize worship, education, volunteer opportunities and community outreach activities with children and teens within a church congregation – typically they work with grades 6 through 12. As it’s very common for roles to vary from church to church, youth ministers should expect to be called to perform within various other programs and activities put on by the church. Examples of additional service might include providing childcare or teaching Bible school.
Sometimes, youth ministers are asked to lead local or global mission trips for the youth group. Depending upon their location, these trips can require extensive knowledge of group travel and the expectations and customs of different cultures. Mission trips provide a rich experience for youth – they learn the value of helping the less fortunate, even those in poverty. Mission trips are also an interactive way to help youth spread the message of the church.
Churches typically employ youth ministers. In very small congregations, youth ministers provide services on a volunteer basis. Sometimes, especially in rural areas, youth ministers may travel to other communities to assist with youth needs that aren’t being met.
While salaries for youth ministers will vary based on location, experience, the size of the church for which they work and other factors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that those in directorial roles for religious activities and education (including youth ministers) earned a median annual wage of $38,160 in 2013.
Those interested in becoming a youth minister usually must possess a bachelor’s degree to be considered for open positions. Internship experience, volunteer work and experience with mission work, especially overseas missions, will likely make candidates more attractive in the eyes of potential employers.
While in some cases it may not matter what type of degree a youth minister has, coursework in theological studies, child psychology, family studies and communication are especially valuable. Campbellsville University offers three degree programs that will prepare a student for a rich career in youth ministry. All are offered fully online, and, while completion times may vary, the requirements of all three degrees can be fulfilled in as little as two years.
Associate of Science in Christian Studies – this degree calls for 62 credit hours and focuses on biblical studies, pastoral leadership, educational ministry, etc.
Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministries – this program consists of 120 hours of study in which students will take a close look at biblical study, church history, evangelism, missiology, pastoral care and more.
Master of Theology – 30 credit hours are required for this degree; students will focus on biblical and theological studies and pastoral leadership.