How to Minister to Teens: New Teen Ministry Manual

Published on: November 2, 2016

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While attending the Unity People’s Convention last June [2016], those who know me as having served in Youth and Family Ministry for over 20 years would come up to me and ask, “What’s new in children’s and teen ministry?” What’s new! The newly combined, revised and updated Teen Ministry Manual from Unity Worldwide Ministries (UWM). That’s what new!


And what’s more, it’s free. The Teen Ministry Manual (TMM) is the latest in a series of free support manuals available to Unity ministries and ministers. This downloadable guide is specifically tailored and written to support each and every person involved with our Unity teens—ministers, licensed teachers, YOU (Youth of Unity) sponsors, Uniteen leaders and youth directors. While serving on the team that created this revised guide, we set an intention to support those serving Unity teens in multiple ways so that their time with the teens is rewarding and inspiring. We want to ensure  that the teens experience is also one that is spiritually inspiring, service oriented, promoting skill building and filled with social opportunities for creating supportive friendships. These words in bold are called The Four “S’s” of Teen Ministry. (Read more about that on TMM, page 37.)

Just like the Youth & Family Ministry Guide before it, published in 2006, the Teen Ministry Manual is the “bible” for serving middle school and high school Unity programs, teen leaders, adult leaders and for facilitating lessons and events. Teen ministry in Unity encompasses Uniteens (11–13 years old/6th, 7th and 8th graders) and YOUers (14–18 years/9th–12th grade). Teen ministry is an integral part of our age-appropriate programs. As a combined Uniteen and YOU manual, it addresses both the similarities in these two age groups as well as their very distinct differences.

A wealth of new information has been deposited into this revised manual by Unity YFM (Youth and Family Ministry) professionals, Regional Education Consultants coast-to-coast, and YFM directors with years of expertise in supporting and empowering teens and the adults who work with them. This manual both combines and replaces the previous YOU Sponsor Handbook and Uniteen Program Guide, Part 1 and Part 2. Following the advice offered by these seasoned teen ministry professionals who contributed to the creation of this guide will empower you to create a healthy and sustainable teen program in your own ministry.

What’s in the Manual?

This concise, 274-page manual offers valuable information on a variety of levels including: how to start, build, and sustain a teen program; the developmental stages of teens, mentoring both teen and adult leadership, creating lessons and events, planning for finances, sacred safety, plus multiple resources and form templates. It is the compilation of best practices and modern thinking available. Realizing that being a teen in our modern world is quite different from years past, we on the writing team felt it was imperative to put modern spiritual, social and psychological information into the leadership of each ministry.

This manual is what a great deal of Unity folks have been asking for and I, for one, am grateful for the wisdom that my peers have poured into these pages. I am excited and honored to have been a part of this dynamic, spiritual and education centric team.

Some of my favorite chapters include user-friendly tools for people of all ages. The same ministry skills that are taught to licensed teachers and ministers are also being used in youth and teen ministry. When working with people of any age—as Unity ministers, licensed Unity teachers and youth directors—we strive to impart the wisdom needed for living an awakened life and call them higher in consciousness. The Teen Ministry Manual can act as your own “teacher” in providing you with valuable foundational instruction to do just that.

For example, the information provided in the chapters on Sacred Safety, Leadership, Creating a Vision & Mission Statement, Unity Basics and Lessons are applicable ministry wide. The chapter on Group Building also explores behavior, underlying motivations of participants, incidents or disruptions, as well as the risks and consequences of how the incident or disruption is handled. I see this information as paramount for the healthy formation of groups in Unity ministries for any age from 5 to 105.


Including All Generations

In my experience of working with every age group—from preschool, youth, teen, young adult, adult, and older adults—only the language used to support this shift in consciousness changes for the age group you are communicating with. I am blessed to have been given the opportunity and ability to speak with so many generations. (Yes, it can sometimes feel like speaking a foreign language, but the connection with each generation has the power to open your heart in amazing ways.)

If you find yourself challenged by a specific age group, I invite you to go within and explore what may be unhealed in you at that age; love yourself and practice forgiveness that heals and embrace that time of your life for yourself. Each and every age group or generation brings a vibrancy to a ministry that can only be expressed by that generation. Each generation is a unique expression of Spirit in all ways.

In the ministry I serve, I want all the generations to be present, fully engaged and know that their presence and contributions are not only valued but vital to the well-being of the spiritual community as a whole. I believe, that as a minister, by making a conscious choice to intentionally support the spiritual growth of each age group and those who work with them, I am holding the greater awareness for each generation to blossom into their highest potential.

My vision is one of a spiritual community blessed in expected and unexpected ways by all age participants growing into their innate spiritual maturity. I invite and welcome you to join me in holding a similar vision for your own ministry, your region and the entire Unity movement.

Whether you are an experienced teen ministry worker or brand new to serving this age group, or perhaps a minister with limited knowledge and experience in teen ministry—this manual was written for you—to support you, to empower you, and guide you into building a successful teen ministry program. Every ministry, minister and youth staff or volunteer should own and read this insightful guide. It may even inspire an adult Sunday lesson for what I’ve called for years … “big church”!

Each and every ministry should have at least one copy in the staff library and every YOU sponsor, Uniteen leader and Youth director can have access to this information as UWM is graciously providing it as a free download [contact 816.524.7414 for more information]. For those interested who are not in the Unity movement, you can download your copy from the Unity Worldwide Ministries website.

Consider tithing or sharing a donation from your ministry for the manuals provided by UWM. Your contributions support the countless staff and volunteer hours it takes to research, compile, edit and produce these user-friendly guides.

We on the writing team trusted Spirit during the lengthy creation of this new Teen Ministry Manual and know this guide will support our Unity teens and Unity ministries for years to come.

Joanne Burns
Rev Joanne Burns, CSE, LUT is a seasoned Unity YFM professional having served as youth director in every size church and as a Regional Education Consultant in the past 20 years. She currently serves as senior minister at Unity of Panama City, FL.

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