Materials for Youth Ministry

In order to support you in your ministry to youth, we are pleased to offer the rich curriculum of The YMI Quest Program: The YMI Quest for Life, The YMI Quest for the Spirit and The YMI Quest for Truth; general programming curriculum ideas; and articles, essays and other readings and resources.

Quest for the Spirit

The Lord's Prayer
The Lord’s Prayer, In this meditation, the Lord's Prayer is used as a focus.meditation prayer
Lectio Divinia
Lectio Divinia, , The Lectio Divina is used in this mediation. meditation prayer scripture
Welcome and Surrender
Welcome and Surrender, This lesson asks youth to focus on feelings or sensations in the moment, and to welcome those feelings.meditation welcome
Scripture Recitation
Scripture Recitation, , Scripture is used to frame this meditation exercise.meditation prayer scripture
Loving Your Enemies
Loving Your Enemies, , This meditation lifts up Martin Luther King, Jr. as an example of loving your enemies.jesus meditation prayer
Sculptor Meditation
Sculptor Meditation, This meditation asks youth to visualize Jesus in the sculptors studio. meditation sculpture
Madonna and child
You Are My Beloved Child, This meditation asks youth to be still and be open to God's acceptance, just as they are.jesus meditation
Intercessory Prayer
Intercessory Prayer, This meditation focuses on intercessory prayer using the Lord's Prayer.meditation prayer
Praying with a Prayer Word
Praying with a Prayer Word, In this lesson, each person will select a prayer word to focus on for the meditation.meditation prayer
Labyrinth Walk
Labyrinth Walk, This meditation uses a labyrinth as a form of pilgrimage.labyrinth meditation
Meditation on an Orange
Meditation on an OrangeThis meditation uses an orange as a focal point for the practice.meditation
Ignatian Daily Examen
Ignatian Daily Examen, , This meditation is based on the Ignatian Daily Examen.ignatian-examen meditation prayer
When Distraction is Not a Distraction
When Distraction is Not a DistractionThis lesson focuses on using distraction as a focus.meditation
Body Awareness
Body Awareness, This meditation is a body scan inspired by Yoga and mindfulness traditionsmeditation prayer
Faithful Memory
Faithful Memory, This meditation features the words of Abraham Joshua Heschel as a guide to memory and the experience of God.meditation memory
A Visit to the Manger
A Visit to the Manger, A meditation based on Ignatian contemplation. meditation nativity
Christian Life as Holy Resistance
Christian Life as Holy Resistance, Using Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. as examples, this meditation focuses on how Jesus calls use holy resistance, just as Christ did.meditation social-justice
Praying with Icons
Praying with Icons, , Icons are used as a focal point for this meditation.icons meditation prayer
Breath Awareness
Breath Awareness, This meditation focuses on using your breath and breath awareness as a component of prayer.breath meditation
Woman praying
Prayer of Recollection, Guided meditation based on Saint Teresa of Avila's prayer method. meditation prayer
Cosmic Christ: A Creation Meditation
Cosmic Christ: A Creation MeditationThis meditation focuses on the word as created by God.meditation
The Jesus Prayer
The Jesus Prayer, , Meditation reciting the Jesus prayer.jesus meditation prayer

Quest for Truth

This curriculum is currently under construction and will be available shortly.

Quest for Life

ForgivenessIn this lesson, youth will discover that forgiveness is sourced in God and can be supported or suppressed by our communityforgiveness
Woman sitting on a rooftop looking at "Jesus Saves" sign
Grounding Ourselves in the Soil of Compassion (Compassion Lesson 1)This is the first of four lessons on discussing race with youth.compassion
Taking the U-Turn (Compassion Lesson 2)
Taking the U-Turn (Compassion Lesson 2)This lesson is designed to help youth name the various "parts" of themselves.compassion
Self-Compassion (Compassion Lesson 3)
Self-Compassion (Compassion Lesson 3)This lesson helps youth to compassionately tend to their racialized parts.compassion
Self-Compassion for Others (Compassion Lesson 4)
Self-Compassion for Others (Compassion Lesson 4)This lesson is designed to help youth form authentic relationships across racial barriers.compassion
Stories of the Soul (Hope Lesson 1)
Stories of the Soul (Hope Lesson 1)In this lesson, youth will link their every day stories to the Christian story.hope
Being a Light in the Dark
Being a Light in the DarkIn this lesson, youth will be encouraged to look beyond themselves to the need in the world and Jesus' call to love your neighbor.self-sacrificial-love
Done Messed Up (Kenosis Lesson 1)
Done Messed Up (Kenosis Lesson 1)This lesson will help youth to view confession as a way or reorienting their hearts towards God.self-sacrificial-love
Bearing One Another's Burdens
Bearing One Another’s BurdensThis lesson focuses on teaching young people how to give and receive spiritual support.self-sacrificial-love
Reprogramming Our Use of Digital Platforms
Reprogramming Our Use of Digital PlatformsIn this lesson, youth will explore the culture of social media against a Christian vision of creation and image-bearing.idolatry
Joy as a Response to Joy
Joy as a Response to JoyThis lesson focuses on exposing youth to the grace of God.grace
My Own Two Hands
My Own Two HandsThis lesson will help youth to look at the resources available to them to address the needs of their
Stories of the Soul (Hope Lesson 2)
Stories of the Soul (Hope Lesson 2)In this lesson, youth continue to explore how their every day stories connect with the Christian faith story.hope
Embodying Joy
Embodying JoyThis lesson looks at memory and story as pathways to joy.memory
crowd shot
Discussing Race and Racial IdentityThis lesson will help to notice and name racial identities while in a grounded state.compassion
Beauty Reclaimed
Beauty ReclaimedThis lesson focuses on beauty through ritual as an enhancer of
The Misfit Commandment
The Misfit CommandmentIn this lesson, youth explore the fourth commandment.sabbath-rest
Intercessory Prayer (Kenosis Lesson 2)
Intercessory Prayer (Kenosis Lesson 2)This lesson will help youth to gain an understanding of intercessory prayer.self-sacrificial-love
Invitation to Significant Conversation
Invitation to Significant ConversationThis lesson focuses on encouraging youth to having intentional, significant conversations with people in their communities. wisdom
Joy On Purpose
Joy On PurposeThis lesson will help youth to understand their purpose and how this can lead to lives of joy.vocation
Group of teens framing a wall on a construction site
Serving the World (Kenosis Lesson 3)This lesson strives to open the eyes of youth to suffering in the world.self-sacrificial-love
Praise: Crediting the Conditions
Praise: Crediting the ConditionsThis lesson is focused on praise as an essential element of youth ministry.praise
Learning to Hold Lightly
Learning to Hold LightlyThis lesson helps youth to see how playfulness can help to ease the burdens that they bear.playfulness
Give Thanks: Building Space for Gratitude
Give Thanks: Building Space for GratitudeIn this lesson, youth will explore what it looks like to express gratitude in their daily lives.gratitude
Created for Joyful Worship
Created for Joyful WorshipIn this lesson we'll explore worship as a way to express joy and gratitude.worship
The Joy of Christian Friendship
The Joy of Christian FriendshipThis lesson will explore true friendship and self-sacrificial love.friendship
Worth the Wait
Worth the WaitGod promises to show up. This lesson asks youth to focus on waiting.purpose
Three teens sitting with arms around each other
Hospitality: Room For AnotherIn this lesson, youth will learn that hospitality is not just about welcoming those they know, but about creating space for Christ.belonging
Under Pressure
Under PressureThis lesson helps youth explore whether or not the way we act changes the way God feels about us.testimony
Being a Welcome and Inclusive Youth Group
Being a Welcome and Inclusive Youth GroupThis lesson will explore creating a welcoming environments for teens of all sexual orientations and gender identities.sexual-dimensions
Sexual Education Assessment Exercise
Sexual Education Assessment ExerciseThis lesson is designed to help groups become more intentional about communicating equitable, healthy, and positive sexuality education grounded in faith values.sexual-dimensions
Woman praying
Nurturing Joy: Emotional Health 101, This lesson focuses on the important concerns of depression and suicide among youth.depression suicide
God's Work of Art - Your Brain
God’s Work of Art – Your BrainThis lesson will focus on how substance abuse can impact youth's ability to experience joy.substance-abuse
Who Am I Before God?
Who Am I Before God?This lesson asks youth to focus on the self that God gave them.substance-abuse
Women making heart shapes with their hands
Fear+Less DialoguesThis lesson will help youth to face the fears and obstacles to having heartfelt and meaningful conversation and connection on the subject of race.fear
Paths to a Joyful Expression of Self
Paths to a Joyful Expression of SelfThis lesson is designed as a bible study with youth around the question of "Who Am I Before God?"substance-abuse
Creating a Sexual Ethic
Creating a Sexual EthicThis lesson will help youth identify how faith values establish guidelines for a sexual ethic related to relationships with themselves and others.sexual-dimensions
We Belong Together
We Belong TogetherThis lesson is designed to bring youth awareness to injustice in the world.poverty
Teens in candlelight worship
Depression in Biblical Days, This lesson will help youth to see the Bible as a source of support when walking through depression.depression suicide
Tuning in to Joy
Tuning in to JoyThis lesson will help youth to recognize joy in light of other
People dancing
Practicing WitnessingThis is a lesson on deep listening and is a good intergenerational exercise.playfulness
Hope Never Fails
Hope Never FailsThis lesson will focus on how sharing your biggest concerns with God can lead to a sense of hope.poverty
Finding a Grit Fit
Finding a Grit FitIn this lesson, youth will explore the habits that can equip them to enjoy life.sabbath-rest
Fit for Time and Joy With God
Fit for Time and Joy With GodIn this lesson, youth will work together to create a weekly Sabbath-keeping plan.sabbath-rest
The Flowers of the Field
The Flowers of the FieldThis lesson is designed to help youth express who they are and to explore who God is creating them to be.testimony
The Solid Rock
The Solid RockIn this lesson, youth will explore God's immutability.testimony
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
Harry Potter and the Sacred TextThis lesson takes a piece of popular culture and uses it to show how youth can find the sacred in the secular.imagination-creativity
Trusting God in Anxious Times
Trusting God in Anxious TimesIn this lesson, youth will learn how faith can help them to deal with anxiety.anxiety
Rejoicing in Adolescence: A Parable of God
Rejoicing in Adolescence: A Parable of GodDavid White, C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education and Professor in Methodist Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary on whether adolescence constitutes an aesthetic or joyful stage in the life
Bravery and Imagination
Bravery and ImaginationIn this lesson, we will introduce young people to the idea of prophetic imagination. poverty
Intelligent in More Ways Than One
Intelligent in More Ways Than OneIn this lesson, youth will learn to appreciate their own intelligence as well as the gifts of others.poverty
The Forgotten Billion
The Forgotten BillionThis lesson will focus making youth aware of the injustice in the world.poverty
Becoming a Spiritual Athlete
Becoming a Spiritual AthleteThis lesson will help youth to develop spiritual practices that can help to prevent self-destructive behaviors.poverty
Kara Powell
CommunityDr. Kara Powell and Rev. Mike Park present a lecture on investing in intergenerational
Dr. David Anderson Hooker
Peacemaking & ReconciliationDr. David Anderson Hooker and Dr. Elizabeth Corrie present a lecture on Peacemaking and Reconciliation.peace-making-reconciliation
Dr. Rodger Nishioka
ResilienceDr. Rodger Nishioka and Rev. Dominique Robinson present a lecture on resilience.resilience
Dori Baker
ViolenceRev. Dr. Dori Baker and Dr. Patrick B. Reyes present a lecture on violence.violence
Engaging Youth in Theological Questioning
Engaging Youth in Theological QuestioningThis lesson focuses on practical ways to view a film through a theological lens.wisdom
Seeking Joy Through Seeking Justice
Seeking Joy Through Seeking JusticeThis lesson will ask youth to look at current injustices in the world and consider how God may be working in the midst of those injustices.justice
The 8 Bowl of Life Ceremony
The 8 Bowl of Life CeremonyA multi-sensory lesson to demonstrate the heightened awareness one acquires in experiencing the every day trials of life.justice

General Programming

Kick Off Event - Carnival
Kick Off Event – CarnivalThis is a lesson for a first gathering of the year, with a fun, carnival theme.friendship
Person standing on the top of a mountain at sunrise
Vocation ExplorationThis lesson focuses on God's calling for our lives.vocation
Youth Worship
Youth WorshipThis lesson provides an outline for designing a youth worship service.worship
Be Christ to Others
Be Christ to Others, This is a lesson where youth can put their faith into action through social-justice
Playing in the Park
Playing in the ParkThis is a lesson that emphasizes community building and is appropriate for middle or high school
Team Reveal
Team RevealIf you have a large youth group and need to divide into teams, this lesson provides a guideline for how to make the team reveal fun and community
Vesper Outline - Sharing of Ourselves
Vesper Outline – Sharing of OurselvesThis lesson is designed to be small group discussion(s) based on scripture.scripture
Parent-Guardian Meeting
Parent-Guardian MeetingThis lesson provides an outline for a meeting with parents-guardians at the beginning of a youth group program year.parents
Spiritual Flight Night
Spiritual Flight NightYouth explore the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina in this lesson.prayer
Team building exercise on a high ropes course
Team BuildingThis lesson is designed to support team building. This is particularly helpful in creating bonds before a mission
Thanksgiving Service Project
Thanksgiving Service ProjectThis is a an example of an all church service project for adults, families and

Articles and Readings

ReVisioning Sexuality: Relational Joy and Embodied FlourishingAn essay by Kate Ott and Lorien Carter on ReVisioning Sexuality as part of the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing project.
Grace: The Foundation of JoyAn essay by Tony Campolo and Shane Claiborne on grace from of the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing project.
Gratitude As the Foundation for JoyAn essay by Robert Emmons and Marc Afshar on gratitude as part of the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing project.
Sing for Joy! The Power of Sacred Narrative Among Urban YouthAn essay by Miriam Yvette Acevedo and Mark R. Gornik as part of the Joy and Adolescent Faith and Flourishing project.
Studying the Bible with YouthArticles and resources on the best approaches, tools, and frameworks to use when leading adolescents in Bible study.
Spiritual Practices in Youth MinistryArticles and resources on the importance of prayer and spiritual practices as habits that orient us towards God.
Offering Effective Pastoral CareArticles and resources on the importance of pastoral care to youth and their families as part of a robust youth ministry.
Fostering Vocational DiscernmentArticles and resources on the spiritual practice of discernment and the importance of encouraging a sense of vocation in adolescents.
Integrating Youth into the Wider CongregationArticles and resources on the place of youth ministry within the wider congregation.
Cultivating Worshipful YouthArticles and resources on the importance of worship for youth.
Student LeadershipArticles and resources on the benefits and importance of providing leadership opportunities to students and empowering young people to take ownership of their youth programs.
Developing Trusted Relationships and Nurturing CommunitiesArticles and resources on creating an environment where youth can develop trusted relationships with peers and adults, and the value of nurturing communities.
Envisioning, Building and Sustaining Thriving Youth MinistriesArticles and resources on building and sustaining youth ministries.
Agency: The Joy of ActivismThis reading is a segment by Almeda M. Wright and Nyle Fort from the forthcoming "Joy: A Guide for Youth Ministry".
Belonging: Paul’s Notion of AutarkesThis reading is a segment by Michal Beth Dinkler from the forthcoming "Joy: A Guide for Youth Ministry".
Hope: A Pathway to Adolescent Joy and FlourishingThis reading is a segment by Anne E. Streaty Wimblery and Sararh Farmer from the forthcoming "Joy: A Guide for Youth Ministry".
Purpose: Finding Joy in Life DirectionThis reading is a segment by Pamela King and Steven Argue from the forthcoming "Joy: A Guide for Youth Ministry".
Recruiting, Training and Supervising Youth WorkersFurther reading on how to build and supervise your youth ministry team.
Mental HealthArticles and resources on the mental health issues facing adolescents.
Envisioning, Building, and Sustaining Thriving Youth MinistriesAdditional resources around the importance of youth ministry and how developing a mission and vision statement can help to grow a thriving youth group in accordance with that mission.
Ode to Joy: The Adolescent Experience of Joy as ArousalKenda Creasy Dean, Mary D. Synnott Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary on joy in adolescence.
Searching for Joy: A “Tangled Portrait”Dr. Rodger Nishioka, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Formation at Columbia Theological Seminary looks at understanding the neuroscience of adolescents development.
Adolescent Joy and Christian WorshipFrederick Edie, Professor at Duke Divinity School explores the connection between Christian worship and adolescent joy.
Spiritual Awakening: Joy and Depression A Unified PathwayDr. Lisa Miller, Professor and Director of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, looks at the relationship between joy and depression in adolescence.
Opportunities and Obstacles for Joy During AdolescenceMatthew Kuan Johnson looks at joy during adolescence from a cognitive science perspective.
Rejoicing in Adolescence: A Parable of GodDavid White, C. Ellis and Nancy Gribble Nelson Professor of Christian Education and Professor in Methodist Studies at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary on whether adolescence constitutes an aesthetic or joyful stage in the life cycle.
An Open Letter to Youth Ministers – Laura Carlson HaslerLaura Carlson Hasler, the Alvin H. Rosenfeld Chair in Jewish Studies, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies at Indiana University writes an open letter to youth ministers.
An Open Letter to Youth Ministers – Eric D. BarretoEric D. Barreto, Associate Professor of New Testament at Luther Seminary writes to youth ministers.
An Open Letter to Youth Ministers – Amanda MbuviDr. Amanda Mbuvi, Assistant Professor of Religion at Highpoint University writes to youth ministers.
An Open Letter to Youth Ministers – Matthew CroasmunMatthew Croasmun, Associate Research Scholar for the Yale Center for Faith and Culture writes to youth ministers.
An Open Letter to Youth Ministers – Michal Beth DinklerMichal Beth Dinkler, Associate Professor of New Testament at Yale Divinity School writes an open letter to youth ministers.
An Open Letter to Youth Ministers – Allen HiltonRev. Dr. Allen Hilton, founder and executive director of House United, a nonprofit initiative that helps groups collaborate across theological and political differences, writes an open letter to Youth Ministers.
ScriptureLooking for scripture resources that relate to current issues? See our list of topics.

Sample Materials and Outlines

Celebrating Milestones OnlineIdeas for acknowledging and celebrating milestones with youth online.
Ideas for Gathering Youth OnlineWe have gathered ideas for gathering youth online!
Guide to Taking Youth Ministry OnlineRev. Angela Gorrell, Ph.D. and Paul Gorrell offer a guide to ministering youth during a time of physical distancing.
Fundraising IdeasThis is a list of ideas for fundraising opportunities for retreats and mission trips.
Vesper Outline – San AntonioThis is an example of vespers for a mission trip to San Antonio, Texas.
Vesper IdeasThis document contains several different vesper ideas for mission trips.
Vesper Outline – BelizeThis is an example of vespers for a mission trip to Belize.
Important Information for ParentsThis is a sample of a document to create for parents with important details of mission trip travel.
Mission Trip Packing ListExample of a packing list for a mission trip.
Mission Trip Sample ItineraryExample of a detailed itinerary for a youth group mission trip.
Mission Trip BudgetExample template for a mission trip budget.
Mission Trip Detailed Work PlanExample of a detailed work plan for mission trip planning and execution.
Retreat ItineraryExample of an itinerary for a weekend retreat.
Fundraising EmailThis is a sample of an email directed at fundraising for retreats/mission trips.
Mission Trip Leader Thank You LetterExample of a thank you letter to a leader to be sent following a mission trip/retreat.
Fundraising LetterThis is an example of a fundraising letter for mission trips/retreats.
Mission Trip Thank You Email/Letter to Adult Volunteers-ContractorsExample of a letter to send to adult volunteers following a mission trip.
Host Church Thank You LetterSample of a thank you letter to a church for hosting a mission trip group.
Denominational ResourcesThis contains denominational resources for mission trip locations and trip planning.
CT Retreat CentersThis is a partial listing of Retreat Centers in the New Haven, CT area.
Advisor-Leader HandbookA sample handbook for training youth leaders.
Mission Trip 10 CommandmentsThis is a creative way of framing rules around youth group and/or mission trip expectations.
Mission Trip and Retreat Sample FormsThese are samples of forms that can be used for sign ups for mission trips or retreats.
Mission Trip PartnersThis list provides just a few of the wonderful organizations who are ready and willing to work with youth groups for mission trips.
Mission Trip Invitation Letter to Parents and YouthExample of a mailing to parents and youth inviting participation in a mission trip.
Mission Trip-Retreat Site Visit ChecklistThis list contains suggested questions to ask, items to check and things to think about on a site visit for a mission trip.
Omnibus Health FormThis is a sample health form to use for youth groups.
Youth Group Fall ScheduleExample of a fall schedule of youth group programming.
Youth Group HandbookThis is an example of a youth group handbook outlining the philosophies and plans of youth program(s).