Youth ministry is a career path for those interested in merging faith with community work. Generally, youth ministers are responsible for providing faith-based programming, education, counsel and other services to young people. Although the word “youth” often implies “teenager,” youth ministers work with a wide range of ages, from those in elementary school to those in college.
The responsibilities of youth ministers vary depending on the needs of their communities. Some common duties include:
- Directing, coordinating and/or running regular youth programs.
- Working with parents and church leaders to determine needs.
- Developing relationships with church families and leaders of other churches.
- Developing retreat programs.
- Organizing and running special events.
- Running Bible study groups.
- Facilitating social gatherings for youth.
- Providing pastoral guidance.
- Working on budget proposals specific to youth ministry.
- Arranging parenting programs for adult church members.
- Mentoring youth who feel called to the ministry vocation.
Like all clergy, youth ministers must possess a particular set of skills. They must be highly capable in relating to people, as most of their work involves face-to-face interaction. It is important for them to possess a substantial degree of social perceptiveness and a heightened ability to actively listen and empathize. They must prove adept in teaching, instruction and public speaking. It is beneficial for youth ministers to possess a certain degree of therapy and counseling knowledge, as much of their profession involves providing guidance to others. Most important, they must be capable of using responsible judgment, as they hold a great deal of influence over impressionable and vulnerable populations.
Career Growth and Salary Potential
Jobs for directors of religious activities and education (including youth ministers) are expected to grow 4 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median annual salary is $38,780. PayScale reports that youth ministers experience a very high degree of job satisfaction.
Most churches that employ youth ministers require candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, preferably in religion or a related field. Prior experience working with children and/or youth is necessary, as is knowledge of the Bible. Those interested in becoming youth ministers would do well to gain experience through regular involvement in church activities, volunteering or seeking internships in a relevant position.
A program like Campbellsville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Pastoral Ministries program can support those who find their calling in youth ministry.