The Book: The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry

Congregations can indeed nurture youth to a vital Christian faith! Based on a national research study, The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry provides insights into what congregations are doing to foster a vibrant, committed Christian faith in the lives of youth people.

This book provides rich, research-based directions for developing and enhancing a congregation’s ministry with young people. At the heart of the study's findings is a congregational culture of the Spirit — that permeates the values, relationships and activities of a congregation, giving rise to a culture of mission and transformation that makes a congregation highly influential in the lives and faith of young people. This active presence of God surrounds the people of the whole congregation in its ministries with youth, parents, community and leaders.

Presenting a new framework of 44 Faith Assets, The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry provides strategies and tools for leading your congregation toward exemplary youth ministry.

Buy the book here!

What People Are Saying

“With a robust theological vision, attention to detail, and compelling real life examples, The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry will be a must on the shelf of not only every youth director but of all pastors and laity in leadership.”

– Rev. James Howell, Senior Pastor, Myers Park United Methodist Church, Charlotte, N.C.


“I have been waiting for this book since my first days as a volunteer youth leader:  Who does youth ministry well, and how do they do it?  By focusing on congregations where young people reliably acquire robust, mature Christian faith, Martinson, Roberto and Black have given us the most encouraging data on youth ministry to date. The Spirit and Culture of Youth Ministry is more than eye-opening research — it is a toolbox chock-full of insight, diagnostic instruments, and practical observations for Christian communities who want to get youth ministry right.”

– Kenda Creasy Dean, parent, pastor, and Professor of Youth, Church and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary


“In the midst of charts, tables, graphs and statics are real stories about congregations who have made the commitment of designing and implementing ministries that lead to mature faith, not only of their youth, but the whole congregation. This book is not about easy fixes, slick programs, or superhero adults, it is a testament to knowing and believing that as 'church' it is our calling to make disciples for the transformation of the world.”

– Rev. Susan H. Hay, Director, Effective Practices in Young People’s Ministry, United Methodist General Board of Discipleship


“This impressive study portrays how vital congregations are reconceiving youth ministry, shifting from program management to the life-centering practice of Christian discipleship.  Across the religious landscape littered by the debris of “moralistic therapeutic deism,” EYM congregations cultivate a palpable awareness that God is present in their lives and actively redeeming the world in Jesus Christ.  In the 'fast-food culture' of North American youth ministry, EYM congregations prepare and serve a feast that sustains young people (and adults) over a lifetime.  Inspiring case studies, insightful assessment tools and a must-read summary chapter for every leadership team in youth ministry.”

– Don C. Richter, Associate Director of the Louisville Institute


“No longer do congregational leaders need to rely on their best hunches, urban legends, or myths regarding effective youth ministry practices.  This most exhaustive of studies moves beyond lore to well-grounded practices where God’s Spirit touches the souls of youth and kindles the spark of faith to full flame. Theology, leadership, family, cross-generational community and hospitality do make a difference! Take this book seriously and it will change how we train leaders and live as a church.”

– Dr. Paul Hill, Executive Director, Vibrant Faith Ministries


“This is a highly significant publication. It provides the most comprehensive, the most scientific, the most meaningful information on church youth of any study with which I have been involved — and that involves over fifty years of youth research. The findings describe what pastors, parents and volunteer youth workers in 131 exemplary congregations covet for their youth, namely, the following: Youth who seek spiritual growth, possess a vital faith, practice faith, make the Christian faith a way of life, live a life of service, reach out to others, exercise moral responsibility, speak publicly about faith and possess a positive spirit. These outcomes are most likely to be realized when the congregational ministries reflect the 44 characteristics identified through the study as assets. The more assets found in a congregation, the greater the likelihood of realizing the outcomes described above. The book describes  in a non-technical way how congregations can develop a life changing youth ministry.”

– Merton Strommen, Ph.D., Research Psychologist