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Best Resources On Youth And Youth Programming For Congregations

Youth and young adult ministry resources for congregations:

Resources for American Christianity serves as an archival site for material developed by selected religion research and information sites funded by the Lilly Endowment. Its material can help congregations, scholars and the public better understand the impact, trends and trajectories of Christianity in American society. Resources include articles, projects, research and interviews about:

Youth Ministry

Adolescents

Young Adults

Youth Groups

In particular, read the interviews on African American youth ministry(located under the “Interviews” subheading) with Anne Streaty Wimberly, Don Richter's interview on the spiritual formation of young people, Brad Christerso's interview on how American teens experience life, Carol Lytch's interview on why teens choose church and Kenda Creasy Dean's interview on young people’s faith and youth ministry. Also, consider Dorothy Bass and Mark Schwehn's interview on leading lives that matter and William Placher's interview on college students discerning their calling. Some key articles include the Youth Ministry and Spirituality Project, and Claremont Program Takes Dramatic Approach to Develop Teen Leadership.

U.S. Congregational Life Survey In the typical congregation, fewer than 20 percent of worshippers list programs for children and youth as one of the things they value about their congregations. Yet, according to the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, congregations that have a strong interest in providing programs and services for children and youth tend to be places where the whole membership is growing spiritually and shares a vision about the congregation’s future. They also tend to be growing in size.

In a related article, “Children and youth: High priority means high performance,” the survey’s authors noted that congregations whose programs challenge youth to think about, develop and mature in their faith convictions and practices produce young adults who tend to return to church when they start raising their own children. Hence, congregations that nurture their children in the faith help sustain their traditions and values over generations and help produce the next generation of clergy.

Congregations interested in strengthening their youth programming can start by assessing their current strengths by participating in the survey, which assesses 10 areas of church life. Find out more about how to self-administer the U.S. Congregational Life Survey.

The National Study of Youth and Religion is designed to enhance our understanding of the religious lives of American youth from adolescence into young adulthood. It seeks to identify effective practices in the formation of the religious, moral and social lives of youth and to evaluate the effectiveness of youth programs offered by religious communities. Results from the three waves of study over the decade 2001-10 are published as reports, articles and books covering a range of key topics. Visit the News, Publications and Resources pages for links to youth-related project material and other helpful resources.

Way to Live is a book and website from the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith. The project’s mission is to develop resources that address the spiritual hunger of contemporary Americans with the wisdom of the Christian faith, especially as it is put into sustained practices. The book challenges teens to explore 18 practices that shape their faith lives; the website supports the effort by providing brief real-life scenes that can serve as takeoff points for challenging conversations.

Also visit the companion site for adults, Practicing Our Faith, designed to support the book (published in 1997 and updated in 2010) Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People, which promotes 12 time-honored spiritual practices that have shaped Christian community through the centuries and remain relevant for our era. Use the book and website for programs for young adults who may have outgrown Way to Live and to develop the spiritual lives of all church members.

The African American Lectionary provides resources for Christian congregations that seek to creatively express the joy, freedom and challenges of being both African American and Christian. Resources are cross-linked and categorized by significant days of the liturgical calendar that are celebrated across ecclesial traditions. Identify key resources related to youth that can shape and inform worship services and other youth programs by typing “youth” into the site’s search window.

Also try these affiliate sites for more on youth programs and ministry

The Center for Congregations helps strengthen Indiana congregations by providing consultation, resources and educational events throughout the state. The center’s success in identifying practical resources at the local and national levels has led it to share what it has learned with congregations across the country.

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship is an interdisciplinary study and ministry center based at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary that promotes the study and renewal of Christian worship and offers key articles related to youth, worship and faith formation.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research has earned an international reputation as a bridge between the scholarly community and the practice of faith by providing rigorous research in anticipation of emerging issues and trends, and sharing that learning with policymakers and the public.

Additional Resources

For more insight and additional tools, explore the feature articles, stories and annotated links on Insights Into Religion's Youth section and the Youth Research section.

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