Building Blocks for Excellence in Youth and Family Ministry

Published on: December 1, 2012

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What makes a youth and family ministry successful? How does it move from surviving to thriving? In order to get a glimpse of the answer to that question, we undertook a major research project to find out. Besides researching current cutting-edge books, publications and programs, we studied success stories looking for common elements.

We interviewed two dozen New Thought ministries of different sizes, locations, cultures, and socio-economic programs, and asked questions based on the four-quadrant framework of the whole-systems approach. We were looking for the holistic answer. In our research, we discerned seven areas or building blocks that serve as a foundation for thriving youth and family ministry (YFM). To assess your ministry’s strengths in each of the seven areas, consider the questions below.

These seven questions can be the start of a deeper conversation about the vision and mission for your youth and family ministry. To help clarify where your program stands, take the more in-depth YFM self-assessment.


Foundations for Thriving Youth and Family Ministry: 7 Building Blocks

1. Welcoming

When a new family arrives at your center, what do you have in place as your welcoming system?

2. Experiencing the Presence

What practices do you have in your classrooms that bring forth an inner experience of God?

3. Programming

What are the tools that you use and practices you have in place to create an enriching outer experience/environment for your youth?

4. Curriculum

What are the benefits in using curriculum that is based on the Living Curriculum and honors multiple learning styles?

5. Staffing

How do you recruit, train and maintain your paid and volunteer YFM staff?

6. Policies and Procedures/Sacred Safety

What sacred safety policies and procedures does your ministry follow?

7. Empowered Youth Leadership

What practices are in place that are designed to lead youth to empowered leadership?


Four Quadrants of Thriving Youth and Family Ministry

The Four-Quadrant Model represents the four domains of internal and external development, both individual and organizational. The left quadrants represent “being” (internal), while the right represent “doing” (external). The four domains include:


Jane Simmons
Senior Co-minister at Unity Spiritual Center
Rev Dr Jane Simmons is a senior co-minister at Unity Spiritual Center in Spokane, Wash., along with her husband Gary. Jane served for seven years as the International Teen Ministry Coordinator for Unity Worldwide Ministries.
Kathy Kellogg
Associate Minister, Education at Unity of Mesa
Rev. Kathryn Kellogg has a passion for supporting children and families in discovering their spiritual nature and living lives that are authentic and joyful. Kathy spent ten years at Unity Worldwide Ministries as the Children's and Family Ministry Coordinator and now serves Unity of Mesa, Arizona.

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