Top 10 Characteristics of a Healthy Youth Ministry

Kenda Creasy Dean, an ordained United Methodist pastor and Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, recently blogged about the characteristics of a healthy youth ministry.  Her Top 10 list:

  1. Jesus
  2. Lots and lots of parents who are growing in, and living out, their love of God and neighbor (and who are aware that this matters to their kids)
  3. A senior pastor who is crazy about young people
  4. A supportive congregation where people actively seek God and that talk about God as the subject of sentences
  5. A team of adult youth leaders who are actively growing together in faith and who embody the quality of community with one another and missional attitude that we want our kids to have
  6. A community of belonging that is authentic, fun, and passionate about living as Christians in the world.
  7. Integration into worship and congregational life at every level — while maintaining significant peer groups of faith
  8. A culture of theological awareness
  9. A culture of permission and creativity
  10. Safe space

So What?

Many models of youth ministry can be effective in certain contexts.  Kenda Creasy Dean’s list of characteristics is helpful for all parish based youth ministry – regardless of model or mission.

  • How many of the 10 characteristics are present in your congregation’s youth ministry?  Which 2-3 are strongest? Which 2-3 are absent (or, if all are present, which 2-3 are weakest)?
  • How could you use this list as an evaluative tool?
  • What, if any, characteristics would you add to her list?


  1. Hey Kenda Creasy Dean, your list of characteristics is really helpful for all youth ministries. I adsmire your valuable information.

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