Certificate in Youth and Theology

Program Overview


Retreats – The program begins with an Opening retreat and closes with a Capstone retreat. The opening retreat precedes the April Princeton Forum on Youth Ministry and sets the stage for a practical theological approach to youth ministry. Its whole-person approach fosters the peer relationships necessary for developing a cohesive group that will share the certificate experience over the coming years. Participants attend the opening retreat, and stay for the Forum. The Capstone retreat is the final gathering of the cohort after all requirements have been completed. It creates space for reflection and articulation of one’s theological vision for youth ministry.


Forums – The Princeton Forums on Youth Ministry include worship, lectures, extended seminars, free time, and shared meals, all intended to enrich the experience and growth of participants. Everyone in the certificate program must fully attend two Forums, which provide the opportunity to learn from prominent scholars, experienced youth pastors, and peers. For more information on the Forums, click here.


Cohort –  Participants complete the Certificate program with their Cohort, a peer group with whom they develop significant vocational friendships.   These supportive friendships are one of the highlights of the program.  The Cohort gathers for the first time during the Certificate Retreat and reconvenes during each Forum.   They complete the online components of the program together including Check-Ins, Book Studies, Case Studies, and Online Courses.  Every cohort concludes their program with the Capstone Retreat.


Leadership Assessment – Each participant completes a formal 360 leadership assessment survey called the Ministry 360.  This comprehensive evaluation provides helpful feedback on 14 leadership competencies. The Ministry 360 is a part of the mentoring process, and the Ministry report is provided to both mentor and mentee as a springboard for discussion and reflection.


Mentoring  Each participant is connected with a personal mentor with whom he/she meets 9 times over 10 months. Mentoring is a 10-month component of the program that provides both challenge and support.  Mentors are Senior Pastors, professors, denominational leaders and youth ministry consultants.  The mentor is identified in close conversation with the participant and in light of the participant’s needs, interests, gifts, and tradition.


Online Learning – In the first year, participants meet with a small peer group comprised of four to six cohort members. They meet in the IYM’s online classroom to discuss readings, analyze case studies, share written reflections, and support one another in ministry. In the second year, participants complete two online courses taught by theologians and expert practitioners. 


“As someone new to youth ministry, the certificate program has been priceless -  an amazing resource and support system for me. I have met colleagues who face the same issues and challenges I do in my ministry, and who have constructive and insightful guidance for me.  I firmly believe that participating in the certificate program is the most important step I've taken for my ministry, and I am grateful every day for this program and my cohort group.” -  Lindsay Clark