Managing Youth Ministry

Having a youth ministry in the parish requires some degree of management skill to maintain. Below are some areas of consideration for managing a comprehensive youth ministry strategy in your parish.


Having a clear vision for what you want to accomplish is key for an effective youth ministry in your parish. Once a clear vision is identified, you can build support for the idea with the pastor and key leaders in the parish. Young people and their families should be included in how you create and share your vision as well.


Another aspect of managing youth ministry is to know what your resources are. Having a comprehensive list of tools that are available and how to utilize them will be helpful. Resources can include anything from facilities that are available for use to sponsors who are willing to contribute program supplies for activities.


A key resource is the people that can help make a youth ministry strategy successful. Identifying partners in your ministry who can help with direct and indirect support for programs helps share the load. Many people are willing to help, all we need to do is ask!


Paperwork is not everyone’s favorite topic. And sometimes this area of management, especially when everyone is volunteer, gets neglected. The Youth Ministry Handbook helps make this area a little easier by listing all the policies and procedures that are necessary for managing a youth ministry activity in one resource. This handbook includes sample permission slips, liability information and many more important topics that relate to what you need to do to properly administer parish activities with youth.

Evaluating your Program Mix

A key part of management is stepping back from time to time and looking at the big picture. As ministry with youth grows you will quickly discover that teens will have more needs than any one program or activity can meet. If you are only offering one program as your ministry response for youth, you should quickly realize that this singular approach fall short of achieving a comprehensive youth ministry in your parish. Or, as I sometimes like to point out, only having one ministry program is like offering Spanish as the only elective a student can sign up for on his or her class list.

During your program development process (see Starting Youth Ministry page), take some time to look at the bigger picture and see what new opportunities you might identify. Are there resources and leadership to help fill these needs? What steps can you take to grow your ministry by diversifying the program mix that is available? Below are some suggestions to help you brainstorm.


51 Parish Youth Ministry Program Ideas

And you don’t have to be a member of a Youth Group to participate in most of these activities!



1. Maintain an active Youth Ministry Council

2. Ask a teenager to be the Youth Representative on the Parish Council

3. Invite adults and teens to work together writing grants to fund specific projects

4. Have a team create and implement an advertising campaign of all the ways young people can connect with their parish



5. Sponsor a Youth Group that has intentional formation time during meetings

6. Sponsor a Junior High Youth Group (to be able to focus the two different groups on age-appropriate activities)

7. Include a PSR class for teens that continues to meet after Confirmation

8. Have a Totus Tuus session at the parish over the summer

9. Invite Scouts in your parish to participate in the Religious Emblems and Recognitions programs as well as the Rosary Patch series and Footsteps of American Saints patch series.

10. Distribute brochures with information on how families can continue their faith formation traditions at home

11. Sponsor poster contests on various religious themes (i.e. Knights of Columbus’ Keep Christ in Christmas program)

12. Sponsor Essay Contests on prominent issues


Community Life

13. Sponsor non-IHSA athletic teams and challenge other parishes

14. Host Open Gym

15. Plan a camping weekend for families at an area campsite

16. Build a float for your parish for a local parade

17. Host a “Movie Night Lock-in” and discuss from a faith perspective

18. Host a ministry fair in the parish so everyone can see what all the groups in the parish are involved with



19. Have parish retreat such as Luke 18 or similar retreat

20. Participate in diocesan youth events

21. Send a group to Youth Day Celebration at the Shrine in Belleville

22. Participate in the National Catholic Youth Conference

23. Connect high school teens with Quest and Teens Encounter Christ

24. Sponsor a Catholic artist for a mini parish mission

25. Send a group of older adolescents to the international World Youth Day celebration


Justice & Service

26. Host Catholic Relief Services’ “Food Fast” program

27. Invite the parish to participate in Operation Rice Bowl

28. Hold a “Souper” Bowl of Caring on Superbowl Sunday

29. Go on an service learning trip like Young Neighbors In Action or Catholic Heart Workcamp

30. Engage the entire community in Pro-Life activities during the month of October

31. Go Christmas Caroling and ask for donations for the Office for Missions

32. Help with the local Special Olympics programs

33. Participate in the March for Life Youth Pilgrimage

34. Host a blood drive and recruit teens of age to be first-time donors


Leadership Development

35. Send high school teens to the Catholic Leadership Institute

36. Participate in the University of Notre Dame’s Vision program

37. Attend the One Bread One Cup Liturgical Leadership Conference at St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana

38. Encourage more young people to get involved with Scouts

39. Ask the local Knights of Columbus to sponsor a Columbian Squires program


Pastoral Care

40. Invite people in the parish to send cards to teenagers to mark special occasions (birthday, graduation, Confirmation, etc.)

41. Have regular blessings for various occasions for teens at Mass (back to school, new driver, graduation, etc.)

42. Ask the local public high school if you can have a display table in a common room during lunch

43. Distribute care packages to all students during mid-term and final exam weeks


Prayer & Worship

44. Have a special celebration for youth who serve regularly in liturgical roles as Mass

45. Have a youth choir at a regular weekend Mass

46. Ask the ushers to train young people to fill this function from time to time

47. Host a teen-led evening prayer service during specific liturgical seasons

48. Plan and host a Holy Hour with teens from the parish

49. Help a group of students plan the local “See You at the Pole” event in September

50. Have a prayer breakfast for students who will soon be graduating

51. Perform a “Living Stations” devotional during Lent