"Our children are sacred. Our role as caretakers of their spiritual growth is sacred. We can consciously commit to deepening our support of youth ministry within our church families. We can open our hearts and church doors to wider communities, sharing our vision and our positive beliefs. Let us join together as a Unity family and clearly answer Myrtle Fillmore's call, "Who will take care of the children?" ~Robin Clark
Getting Started: Building a Strong Foundation
You can create a program that is sustainable over the years by building a strong foundation through vision, Unity principles and sound administrative practices. Consider the following when starting a new YFM program or enhancing your existing program:
Youth Ministry Assessment
- Use the Youth Ministry Assessment to explore all of the components needed for a thriving program. if your program is already up and running, use it to evaluate your program by checking off what is already working and noting what still needs to be developed.
Creating the Vision
- Creating a vision for your YFM program is an opportunity to focus the energy toward program growth and sustainability. It begins with gathering an interested group of people, as well as the minister, youth director and a board representative, and having a Visioning Conversation.
- Once the conversation is complete, set S.M.A.R.T. Goals that will help to determina a plan of action.
- Follow these simple directions to create a Purpose Statement for the program.
- Chapter 17 of the Youth & Family Ministry Guide has additional information on creating mission, vision and goals for your program.
- Establishing safety protocals is of the utmost importance in a youth and family ministry program.
Budgeting & Finances
"In Unity, we support a prosperity consciousness. That means spiritual well-being; sufficiency in all ways. When applied to youth ministry, this includes seeing the highest and best in programs, volunteers, supplies and facilities. All Youth and Family Ministry (YFM) expenses and incomes must fall within the general fund of the church to maintain the tax-exempt status of 501(c)(3). All accounts must have accurate accounting and must undergo church auditing. When setting this up, include a line item in the general fund for each of the special groups within Youth and Family Ministry." ~Youth & Family Ministry Guide
- For more information on establishing a budget for a YFM program, Financial Foundations, provides some guidelines.
- Also consider the Responsibilities of Youth Director Based on Program Size when determing the salary of the Youth & Family Ministry Director.
- Establishing a YFM Budget provides the financial support needed for the program to grow and evolve.
Policies & Procedures
- Creating a YFM Program Guide that contains polices and procedures specific to your YFM program will help provide clarity and sustainability.
- Items to include:
- Purpose Statement & Vision
- Program Overview
- Sacred Safety
- Youth Ministry Program Staff Guidelines
- Teen Ministry Events
- Lesson Structure
- Youth and Family Ministry Guide is the bible for setting up, running and growing an exciting youth program.
- The Teen Ministry Manual offers information on the unique needs of teens.
A Welcoming Presence
When a family enters your ministry for the first time, there may be many thoughts going through each person's mind. For parents it can be an anxious time becasue they are considering learning their children in the care of strangers. The children may be thinking, "Will I know anyone? Will anyone talk to me? Is this going to be fun?"
From Parking Lot to Classrooms
- According to Tom Clegg of Church Growth Institute, "When visitors walk through the door, they will decide in 3 to 8 minutes whether they will return." What do people experience in your ministry From the Parking Lot to the Classrooms? Do you pass the 8-minute test with flying colors?
- Pay attention to the Classroom Environment. Are the spaces clean, updated and age appropriate? Chapter 7 in the Youth & Family Ministry Guide has additional information on creating a positive environment.
- Provide information to your Usher and Greeter team members so they can address questions new families may have regarding the YFM program.
- Have a YFM Parents Handbook and a YFM Program Brochure on hand to give to new families.
Creating an Empowered YFM Team
Hiring a Youth Director
- Defining the responsibilities and clarifying the role of the YFM Director is crucial to creating a sustainable YFM program.
- Certain qualities of a YFM Director are also desirable.
- Additional information can be found in the excerpt Hiring a Youth Director and in Chapters 2 & 3 of the Youth & Family Ministry Guide.
Recruiting a Team of Volunteers
- Have high expectation as people will rise to the bar you have set. People are more likely to volunteer for a program that is clearly defined and offers opportunity for Spiritual growth and development. There is NO need or lack, only opportunities for accelerated Spiritual growth through working with the children and teens. Review the information on Why People Volunteer. (Excerpts from the book, The New Breed of Volunteers and from the website Points of Light.
- Just as it is essential to have a job description for the YFM Director, having job descriptions for Teen Leaders and Teachers is equally important. When volunteers clearly understand the expectations, they are more likely to be willing to volunteer.
- Volunteers give their time only if they are motivated to do so, recruitment is not a process of persuading people to do something they don't want to do. Rather, recruitment should be seen as the process of showing people they can do something they already want to do. Additional information on recruting and retaining volunteers can be found in Chapters 13 & 14 of the Youth & Family Ministry Guide.
- Having a clear process for becoming a volunteer is an important step in the process. Begin with an application, photo release and background check, followed by a youth ministry commitment form that explains the benefits and general expectations of being a volunteer.
The Sunday Morning Experience
- Creating an engaging Sunday Morning Experience for the children and teens begins with understanding and implementing Unity Worldwide Ministries' educational Living Curriculum philosophy. It involves the use of sacred circles, story and creative experiences.
- Chapter 8 in the Youth & Family Ministry Guide has additional information on the lessons structure.