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Assess Needs and Resources

Adapted from "Hiring for Youth Ministry: A Process for Success" by the NFCYM.

STEP 1:

Develop a Parish Youth Ministry Committee Comprised of Adults and Youth

Put together a committee that represents those to be served by the youth ministry. Have them read Renewing the Vision so they understand the goals of youth ministry. If youth ministry is to serve young people and their families, then young people and their families should help assess their own needs and the resources of the parish so they may then help select a youth minister who will best fit those realities.

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STEP 2:

Assess Needs of Parish Youth and

Define Goals for the Youth Ministry

A needs assessment process can establish both short-term (one to two year) and long-term (three to five year) goals for the youth ministry program. Without identified goals, it is difficult for a parish to establish a realistic job description, or to identify the qualifications a youth minister will need. Having clearly defined goals is one way a parish can determine if hiring a youth minister is the right decision.

Assessing the Needs of Youth and Adults

One task of the needs assessment is to identify which populations the youth ministry program will serve: age groups (junior high, high school, college, young adults, etc.), linguistic and cultural family groups, groups with particular pastoral needs (gang members, teens with disabilities, homosexuals, single parent households, high school dropouts, teen parents, home-schooled students, teens in detention or group homes, etc.), or the parents of adolescents. 

An assessment can determine program areas that fall under youth ministry's responsibility, such as catechesis, service, sacramental preparation, or advocacy for teens at risk. Once the populations and programmatic focus have been identified, an extensive needs assessment should be conducted to ensure that the parish's priorities for its youth are addressed. To capture a complete picture of each group’s needs, it is best to use a variety of needs assessment methods.
 

Youth Ministry Goals

The goals state what the parish hopes to achieve through youth ministry in light of the identified needs and program areas. The United States Catholic bishops captured their hopes for Catholic young people in the document Renewing the Vision: A Framework for Catholic Youth Ministry. The bishops' document is a pivotal statement about the Catholic Church's past and future ministry to young people in the United States. By building on the goals articulated by the bishops and relating them to the local pastoral needs, keeping in mind that "poor, vulnerable, and at-risk adolescents have first claim on our common efforts," (Renewing the Vision, p. 27) parish youth ministry committees can ensure they are establishing a comprehensive ministry to, with, by, and for youth.

 

After establishing the goals, the committee should prioritize them, so that the work of the new youth minister may be more focused and consequently more successful. It is the new youth minister's job to develop strategies and programs to achieve the goals set forth by the committee and affirmed by the parish. The parish youth ministry program belongs to the entire parish, not to the youth minister. Therefore, the parish must have the primary voice in the overall focus and goals of the program. The expertise of the youth minister will be instrumental in the implementation of the goals and in future goal-setting activities.

An assessment can determine program areas that fall under youth ministry's responsibility, such as catechesis, service, sacramental preparation, or advocacy for teens at risk. Once the populations and programmatic focus have been identified, an extensive needs assessment should be conducted to ensure that the parish's priorities for its youth are addressed. To capture a complete picture of each group’s needs, it is best to use a variety of needs assessment methods.
 

After youth ministry goals are established, the committee must determine what parish resources already exist and what additional resources are needed. These resources include both the financial and human resources that a youth minister needs to be most effective. Some resource considerations include salary (part-time or full-time), benefits, physical space for office and programming, continuing education, office equipment, secretarial support, and money for youth ministry programming. If the youth minister does not have the intercultural and linguistic skills required to reach and engage the parish's teens of diverse backgrounds, paid assistants and/or parish volunteers with such skills will be needed to complete the youth ministry staff/team. Within the context of available resources, the committee must determine if hiring a youth minister is feasible and sustainable for the next several years. If it is not feasible to hire, the committee should develop an alternate leadership structure to meet the parish youth ministry goals. Our diocesan team is here to help with this strategic planning if needed or desired.

What does a paid youth minister cost? When a parish is planning to hire a youth minister, whether full-time or part-time, a budget is a must Budget preparation includes developing a total budget that supports the parish youth ministry goals and vision-not just the salary and benefits of the youth minister.

The situation is analogous to making proper preparation for a family vacation (e g., maps, reservations, places to see, amount of money to spend) rather than just getting in the car and heading off for points unknown, never knowing whether you arrived and whether the trip was cost- effective.

When developing a budget to examine the feasibility of hiring a youth minister, the committee must remember that everything related to the person and the position costs money. Not all of the costs will be new expenses to the parish budget (some supplies and office equipment), but all expenses need to be considered when creating the total picture of adding a new staff member and funding a youth ministry program.

The budget guides the parish in deciding which events and projects the youth ministry program will sponsor. (See our page on Budgets here.) The largest part of the budget for a new youth minister (full- or part-time) is usually the salary. The parish should refer to our salary guidelines (click here), and to current or past parish practices and policies regarding employees. Establishing fair and just salaries and benefits must be a parish priority in planning to hire a new employee. The salary offered should be commensurate with the position responsibilities, and the candidate's educational background and experience. Always remember that you get what you pay for – only someone right out of college with little experience or training and no family can live on a $30,000 annual salary.

Not only does the above planning enable you to properly budget for youth ministry and hire the right person as your youth minister, but it also helps you know your resources so you can speak about your parish, its needs and assets, with confidence. Connecting the parish's needs to the youth minister's gifts helps everyone in the discernment process.

STEP 3:

Identify Parish Resources Needed

to Accomplish Youth Ministry Goals

Budget Planning