Renew I Educate I Connect 

Think CYF Ministry - Paths on the Journey

There are many different ways that people enter into ministry.  No one's path looks the same.  However, we have noticed over the years some milestones that many people share in common.  These markers might give you some direction in how to get from here to there...


The College Path...
  • During high school, an individual takes an interest in ministry as a vocation.  Ways you might continue to explore this could include:
    - volunteering in your congregation with younger children.  
    - Talking with your pastor, or children or youth minister to find out more about their work and ministry.
    - Shadowing your congregation's children's or youth minister, or your pastor, to see what this ministry is like.
    - Attending a program that will help you think about your faith and vocation, like a Theological Education for Youth program.

  • You don't need to attend a religiously affiliated college.  If you do, taking some coursework in religion, especially in Lutheran or protestant theology would be beneficial.  Many of our Lutheran colleges have strong religion departments, and many have majors or concentrations in youth ministry.

  • Join the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  This organization of professionals and volunteers who work with children and youth in congregations provides resources for personal renewal, continuing education and networking.  

  • While in college, volunteer in a local congregation to work with children or youth.

  • While in college, spend at least one summer gaining important experience by working at one of our Lutheran Outdoor Ministrysites.

  • After graduation, seek open children, youth and family ministry positions.  

  • Consider participating in anintensive Certification School.

  • Once you are serving in a congregation, please continue to seek continuing education opportunities.  Make sure you participate in the Network's Extravaganza.
The Graduate School Path...

  1. During high school, an individual takes an interest in ministry as a vocation.  Ways you might continue to explore this could include:
    - volunteering in your congregation with younger children.  
    - Talking with your pastor, or children or youth minister to find out more about their work and ministry.
    - Shadowing your congregation's children's or youth minister, or your pastor, to see what this ministry is like.
    - Attending a program that will help you think about your faith and vocation, like a Theological Education for Youth program.

  2. You don't need to attend a religiously affiliated college.  If you do, taking some coursework in religion, especially in Lutheran or protestant theology would be beneficial.  Many of our Lutheran colleges have strong religion departments, and many have majors or concentrations in youth ministry.

  3. Join the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  This organization of professionals and volunteers who work with children and youth in congregations provides resources for personal renewal, continuing education and networking.  

  4. While in college, volunteer in a local congregation to work with children or youth.

  5. While in college, spend at least one summer gaining important experience by working at one of our Lutheran Outdoor Ministry sites.

  6. In the spring of your junior year, begin exploring graduate theological education.  There are8 ELCA seminaries.  Some offer just a couple of courses in children, youth and family ministry, others have large and vibrant programs.  Each seminary is different, and has a different culture and community.  It is important to visit these seminaries to get a sense of the community and to find the "right fit."

  7. You will need to discern the type of program you are looking for.  A Master's of Divinity degree us typically used for preparing for ordained ministry.  An M.A. is excellent preparation to serve as a lay professional.

  8. Explore being rostered in the ELCA, either as a pastor or as an Associate in Ministry, Diaconal Minister or Deaconess.  

  9. Once you are serving in a congregation, please continue to seek continuing education opportunities.  Make sure you participate in theNetwork's Extravaganza.
The Volunteer Path...

Volunteers are crucial to the effectiveness of any congregational ministry with young people.

If you feel like your call is to volunteer your time and energy working with young people in a congregation, we hope you will join the ELCA Youth Ministry Network.  This organization of professionals and volunteers who work with children and youth in congregations provides resources for personal renewal, continuing education and networking.  

As time and financial resources allow, please continue to seek training.  Good options include:


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