First Things in Youth Ministry

A Formative Journey with New Youth Ministry Leaders

Program Overview

Just starting in youth ministry and not sure where to start?

First Things in Youth Ministry is a seven-session online formation program for anyone new to youth ministry (YM). Whether volunteer or paid, this training provides direction for the first six months of taking on a new leadership role. Think of it as Basic Training in Comprehensive Youth Ministry.

This program was developed as part of the 5-year strategy for NFCYM, with the over-arching goal to Empower 15,000 Ministers to Advocate for Young People to be an Integral Voice within their Local Communities. First Things in Youth Ministry aligns under focus area one: Embrace the Essential Elements of Comprehensive Youth Ministry.


Learn and Grow Together! (Training Format)

First Things in Youth Ministry uses a cohort model to not only provide participants with the foundational information for leading a youth ministry program, but with a community of support as well. 

  • Online Cohort: 8-12 new leaders and 1 coach per group
  • 3 Months of Virtual Formation: Initial orientation and six 90-minute online sessions 
  • Participant Preparation: Approximately 3-hours of required reading, viewing content, and reflection activities prior to each session
  • Group Discussion: Share insights on material and practical application to local situations 
  • Practical Applications: Apply learnings through tangible steps and strategies that assist in building a comprehensive youth ministry model 
  • Diving Deeper: Follow-up materials for further development available for each session

National cohort groups will begin every fall, winter, and spring. Upon completion, participants will have received between 40-45 hours of practical and ministerial formation. See session summary below for more information on training topics.

There is also an option to host a local diocesan cohort group. View details >

Setting the Foundation (Training Topics)

Session Summary
  • Orientation – gather with your cohort and coach; learn about each other, parish settings, and current struggles
  • Session 1: First Things about Comprehensive Youth Ministry –review primary YM documents, goals, and components; discuss accompaniment model, active listening, and relational ministry
  • Session 2: First Things in Understanding Young People, Culture, and Your Local Context – overview of Gen Z and how to engage them and your local community’s diverse cultures, parents, and church leaders
  • Session 3: First Things in Building a Leadership Team and Recruiting Volunteers – recruiting and forming your core team, maintaining diversity, and determining leadership and planning structures
  • Session 4: First Things on Accompanying Young People and Their Parents – assessing needs of youth and parents; developing program structures that engage and empower youth to live as disciples within and outside the parish community
  • Session 5: First Things in Program Planning and Budgeting – practical program logistics and best practices (formation, retreats, events, program evaluations); creating a budget; checklist for strategic programming
  • Session 6: First Things in Resources and Networking – most helpful resources, websites and supportive networks; review of next steps and continued development; and a closing cohort prayer experience

What a wonderful opportunity for those new to youth ministry. It is always overwhelming to decide where to begin and First Things provides the how-tos right when you need them most.

Christie Smith
Director of Youth Ministry, Diocese of Greensburg