How to Build Sustainable Children & Youth Ministry Without Burnout

How to Build Sustainable Children & Youth Ministry Without Burnout

“It means that you can move away from the last-minute scramble for volunteers, curriculum, and supplies; and instead approach ministry with a detailed, long-term plan.”

What Do We Mean by “Sustainable”?

Sustainable means to be able to do something at a consistent level for an extended period of time. For example, sustainable agriculture grows crops year after year without soil depletion; a sustainable running pace allows you to run several miles and still be able to breathe(!)

Ministry needs to be sustainable as well. If not, we run the risk of pouring time, money, energy, volunteers, and good ideas into programs… only to see them whither in a few years. Worse, ministers and volunteers will completely burn out.

Sustainable ministry creates programs that continue year after year, with room for tweaks but not needing major structural changes. Ministers, church leaders, volunteers, and parents work together. Planning is done collaboratively and strategically. A context is created in which God can touch lives, with children and youth coming closer to Christ. Sounds good, right?

2 Books You Need: Sustainable Children’s Ministry and Sustainable Youth Ministry

If you are a fan of practical no-nonsense books that explain what WORKS, then these volumes are for you. Both Sustainable Children’s Ministry and Sustainable Youth Ministry offer a systemic approach to creating vibrant Christian formation ministries in a parish setting.

What does that mean? It means that you can move away from the last-minute scramble for volunteers, curriculum, and supplies; and instead approach ministry with a detailed, long-term plan.

These books would be excellent for:

  • Full-time or part-time youth ministers
  • Full-time or part-time family ministers
  • Christian education directors
  • Christian Education committee members

Your church may have a “formation committee” or “youth committee.” If so, consider taking a chapter or two from these books for committee members to read and discuss. Learn more about why you need a Christian Education Committee.

Sustainable Children’s Ministry

by Mark DeVries and Annette Safstrom

Recommended chapters for a formation committee
Chapter 1: What’s different about Sustainable Children’s Ministry?

Chapter 2: Moving Beyond a Do-It-Yourself Ministry

Chapter 4: Knowing What It Takes

Chapter 5: The Essentials Systems for a Sustainable Children’s Ministry

Sustainable Youth Ministry

by Mark DeVries

Recommended chapters for a youth committee
Introduction: Exposing Today’s Most Popular Youth Ministry Model

Chapter 4: A Systems Approach to Youth Ministry

Chapter 5: The Structures of Sustainability

Chapter 6: Changing Culture


Sarah Bentley Allred received her MDiv. from Virginia Theological Seminary in May 2019. She now serves as Director of Children’s and Family Ministries at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina and as one of our editors at Building Faith. She loves local coffee shops, board games, the beach, and exploring new places with her husband, Richard, and their dog, Grace.

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