Youth Ministry 101

Course Description

The need to reach out to youth is a mission that the Catholic Church understands. Connecting with that mission is where the confusion lies. Although there are many who understand the importance of youth ministry, few Catholic ministers outside of youth ministry circles fully grasp the role and responsibilities of those who minister to young people.

Catholic youth ministry has evolved from its beginnings as the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization), to a holistic, comprehensive method to meet the spiritual, catechetical and social needs of younger and older adolescents. Helping those who minister to youth specifically (youth & campus ministers, pastors, liturgy and music directors and volunteers, teachers and coaches) and those who minister indirectly (pastoral teams and councils, pastoral staffs, parish members) is the purpose of this course. Understanding the components necessary to develop strategies towards this comprehensive approach is the goal of this course experience.

This course, authored by experienced youth ministers, is designed to advocate for youth ministers the importance of their ministry in the church. This course will unpack the 1997 U.S. Bishops' document regarding youth ministry, "Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry." We will explore both the practical and theoretical applications of this document for parish life.

Course Content

Unit 1

  1. The History and Transformation of Youth Ministry
  2. Three Goals of Youth Ministry
  3. Definition of Relational Youth Ministry
  4. Partnership with Parents/Parish

Unit 2

  1. Introducing the Components of Advocacy, Catechesis, Evangelization and Leadership Development
  2. The Importance of a Catholic Youth Ministry Leader
  3. Difference between Youth Ministry, Youth Group and Catholic Youth Organization

Unit 3

  1. Introducing the Components of Community Life, Prayer & Worship, Justice & Service and Pastoral Care
  2. Definition of Comprehensive Youth Ministry
  3. The Grid - a tool for evaluation

Unit 4

  1. Community Involvement
  2. Embracing the Vision - Effective Practices
  3. Further Exploration

Course Format

  • Five weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All lecture text available online in course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 20 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Mr. Christopher Culver, M.Div.

Mr. Christopher Culver, M.Div.

Chris Culver completed his Masters of Divinity in 2000 from the University of Notre Dame. He has over ten years experience as a catechist, and five years experience as associate director in the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocesan Office of Youth Ministry. He has completed a national certificate in youth ministry. He currently teaches at St Joseph's Catholic High School in South Bend. He loves the work and challenges that come with youth ministry. He is married and has three children, Ben, Sophie and Joshua. Chris is also an officer in the United States Navy Reserve.