The Ten Commandments of Youth Ministry

The Ten Commandments of Youth Ministry

Emily Anna Perow is the Missioner for Youth and Young Adult Ministries in the Diocese of Connecticut. These commandments were adapted from The Episcopal Church’s Ministry for Older Adolescents.


1. Thou shalt love young people and want to work with them.
The most important characteristic of a youth leader is a love of this age group. Leaders should take the time to know young people individually.

2. Thou shalt be committed to the young ministries program at your congregation.
Responsible adults need to follow through with all that is involved in being a leader: planning, leading, attending leadership meetings, being trained, studying, finding resources.

3. Thou shalt be willing to grow in your faith and be a role model for young people.
One of the exciting parts of being a youth leader is that you will grow in faith, through your own study and preparation, through learning from young people, and through giving and sharing yourself with them.

4. Thou shalt take young people seriously.
Involve young people in the planning and carrying out of their activities. Adults should not run a program without input from young people.

5. Thou shalt be a planner with a purpose.
An effective youth ministry must have a definite purpose. The key to making it work is planning.

6. Thou shalt be confident in leadership.
Once plans for the year are made, leaders need to be confident in carrying them out. Lead by example and make more leaders.

7. Thou shalt use a variety of methods and activities.
Try new methods, including games, theological reflection, prayer, and small groups.

8. Thou shalt define expectations with young people.
Consider a covenant. This covenant would be designed by both the young people and the adult leaders. The covenant should reflect expectations young people have for adults as well as adults have for young people.

9. Thou shalt give individual attention when needed.
Even with a covenant, you’ll probably still have one or two young people who will do everything they can to get your attention (negatively or positively).

10. Thou shalt seek help.
You have a responsibility to get the help and resources you need to have a successful youth ministry program.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Laura

    I would add “Thou shalt do the boring preparation stuff.” I see a lot of youth programs fall apart when it comes to long-range planning, or even shorter term things like making sure you have the material you need ahead of time. Lots of scrambling makes for a less enjoyable experience for all.

    Also: “Thou shalt do thy best to keep young people safe.” Have emergency contact information, get permission slips, have the proper number of people on hand to supervise events, get background checks of volunteers.

    The one thing I’d change on this list is the first commandment–not all of it, but the “want to work with them” part. I certainly didn’t expect to be working with youth when I first started. It seems to me that most people I know who start out in youth ministry are not there because that’s what they wanted, but because they’re paying their dues before going on to “more important” ministry. Perhaps that’s the way to say it–rather than “thou shalt want to work with youth,” but “Thou shalt love young people and recognize that your work with them is important.”

  2. goldenj

    It would be nice if God made the 10 commandments list. I’d suggest for the first one:

    The Lord is Our God. The master of the universe is reaching out to our students, and has loved them enough to send his Son. It is not our work to save them, but His.

Leave a Reply