Youth advising can be one of the most rewarding, if sometimes demanding, roles you can fill as a religious leader. It may also be one of the most essential roles you could play in a youth’s life. Healthy relationships with adults help youth build the resilience they need to face life’s toughest challenges.
We're here to help you form healthy relationships and share leadership with youth (PDF), create a safe(r) youth program and provide appropriate pastoral care and interventions when your teens are in need. Our resources can help you create an inclusive youth ministry, bring thoughtful, skilled communication to planning, leading, and facilitating in a youth ministry context and function well on a team. You'll also find major models and contents of youth programming and ways to develop your self-knowledge and presence as you companion youth on the spiritual journey.
Get the Basics
Youth advisors are adults aged 25 and older who are part of their congregation’s ministry to and with youth. You could be a religious education teacher, a youth program coordinator, an Our Whole Lives teacher, a Coming of Age mentor or a Bridging mentor.
Make sure you have a copy of Youth Ministry Advising: A Complete Guide , your go-to resource that answers questions like “how do we start a youth ministry program?”, “how do we keep our teens safe?” and “how do I get support as an advisor?”
Our Competencies for Ministry to/with Youth can help you take stock of how you and your team are doing, and where you need to go. Learn about the eight competencies and how to use them by watching the Introduction to the Competencies webinar training. Find useful resources on the competencies and many other helpful webinars by visiting Faith Development Webinars.
While no single formula exists for how to get a youth group off the ground, Starting a Youth Group (PDF) will help you navigate a start-up. If you have a project idea but need financial support to get it off the ground, check out Grants and Funding Support.
Does your congregation have youth members? Show them why it's important and encourage youth congregants to become members (PDF).
Further your Knowledge and Skills
Districts, regions and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) offer extensive leadership development throughout the year on various topics related to youth ministry and advising. Districts and regions also offer their own in-person training and gatherings . Ask your district or regional staff how to host a Chrysalis training for advisors and youth. Discover continuing education with Renaissance Modules for Religious Educators.
Learn strategies and techniques for including youth with special needs at Including People with Special Needs in Religious Education. Learn about ministry with youth of color and LGBT* youth at Identity Formation. Consider joining small group ministry to meet your spiritual needs outside of youth group.
Keep Youth Ministry Safe
Growing, healthy teens depend on adults to maintain a safe environment. Become familiar with your congregation’s Safe Congregations policy which will outline what you need to do to ensure the safety of the youth you work with. Familiarize yourself with the latest in Youth Safety: Policies, Procedures and Covenant.
Co-create a covenant with your youth group so people understand and can practice how they aspire to be together. Ask your religious educator or minister for your congregation’s behavioral guidelines and code of ethics to ensure all participants follow rules and understand consequences. (As an example, the UUA uses a code of ethics (PDF) for their events.)
Know your obligation as a mandatory reporter and have a conversation with your religious educator or minister about your role in pastoral care for youth.
Support Youth Leaders
We think our youth are our present, not just our future. We value youth leadership at all levels of our movement. Encourage youth leadership in your congregation (PDF). Help your youth get connected to trainings and events so they can hone their leadership skills and meet other youth leaders. Encourage a youth leader in your life to join the Luminary Leaders program.