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unitarian universalist youth survey and congregational conversation results

Unitarian Universalist Youth Survey and Congregational Conversation Results


the Youth Ministry Buzz!

what exactly is a buzz
What exactly is a “buzz”?

a low, vibrating, humming sound, as of bees, machinery, or people talking

a rumor or report

This presentation summarizes the results of:

UU Youth Survey

Congregational Conversations on Youth Ministry

These are entry points into conversation, not detailed analysis. We want to know what YOU think.

did survey results and conversations differ from district to district
Did survey results and conversations differ from district to district?

Of course!

Survey reports by district are

available online.

Please also see the districtfact sheetfor results and quotes from congregations in your district that returned report forms.

celebrate the buzz!

1,399 UU youth (12-20) completed the survey, including respondents from every district.

74 congregations, representing 17 districts and 1 Canadian region, completed report forms and sent them to the Unitarian Universalist Association.

key buzz areas
Key Buzz Areas

Intergenerational Community Relations

Serving the Spiritual Needs of Youth

Welcoming All Youth and

Anti-Oppression Work

intergenerational community relations

intergenerational community relations

how youth and adults interact in the congregation

congregational and adult support
Congregational and Adult Support
  • Percentage of survey respondents who feel supported by:
    • Youth Advisors 80%
    • RE Director 77%
    • Minister 76%
    • RE teachers 71%
    • Other adults 56%
    • Board members 50%
congregational and adult support cont d
Congregational and Adult Support, cont’d
  • Survey respondents involved in youth programs (local, district, continental) feel less support from congregational adults than respondents involved in RE or other ways.
congregational and adult support11
Congregational and Adult Support
  • What can 1) congregations, and 2) district and continental leaders (youth and adult) do to make the majority of youth feel supported in congregations?
  • How can we build a bridge of support between youth programs and the rest of the community?
congregational activities
Congregational Activities

According to the youth survey, respondents are most involved in:

  • Social action
  • Leading/participating in services
  • Helping with the RE program
youth space youth adult space
Youth space, youth-adult space
  • Almost all of the congregations (97%) who participated had a youth group.
  • Only 18 congregations reported that they had a Youth Adult Committee.
  • Intergenerational music and performing arts bring youth and adults together through spirituality and art.
youth adult partnership
Youth-adult partnership
  • If your congregation has a Youth Adult Committee, how does it function?
  • What are other ways youth and adults can work together in congregations?
  • What does “youth-adult partnership” mean to your district?
how bias works in our congregations
How bias works in our congregations


  • adults biases about youth, youth biases about adults
  • general lack of respect, understanding or acceptance


Work to change youth and adult attitudes about each other by:

  • Working to eliminate bias.
  • Holding youth-adult forums to discuss intergenerational issues and youth needs.
congregations tackle the systems
Congregations tackle the systems


Lack of systems through which youth could be integrated and involved in the community.


Makechanges to the structures of congregational life in order to improve youth ministry.

include all ages in logistics
Include all ages in logistics
  • Include both youth and adult programming in the scheduling process
  • Improve communication methods within the entire community through:
    • youth announcements
    • community calendar listing of youth group events
    • update youth about congregational business
welcoming congregations
Welcoming Congregations
  • Over 80% of congregations who participated were Welcoming Congregations.
  • Many created strategies to improve intergenerational community

Could there be a relationship?

transforming congregations





Youth Ministry

Transforming congregations
  • Reducing bias
  • Intergenerational family events
  • Holding forums
  • Outreach to members of a congregation
  • Creating safe space
  • Reducing bias
  • Intergenerational family events
  • Holding forums
  • Outreach to members of a congregation
  • Creating safe space
promoting intergenerational community in congregations
Promoting intergenerational community in congregations
  • What can we learn from the Welcoming Congregation program?
  • What else do we need to learn in order to strengthen intergenerational community?
spiritual depth in our congregations
Spiritual Depth in Our Congregations
  • desire to live out our UU principles
  • community loves and caresabout their youth
  • ministerial support is vital to youth ministry’s success
meeting the spiritual needs of youth
Meeting the Spiritual Needs of Youth

Congregation is my spiritual home:

53% survey respondents agree

Youth group meets my spiritual needs:

53% survey respondents agree

District programs meet my spiritual needs:

70% survey respondents agree

Continental programs meet my spiritual needs:

63% survey respondents agree

youth and worship
Youth and Worship


Some worship services do not engage youth.


Encourage youth attendance at worship services.

youth and ministers
Youth and Ministers
  • support of ministersis vital to youth ministry’s success
  • increase interaction between the minister and the youth
  • hire a youth minister or include youth ministry in a minister’s job description
youth spirituality
Youth Spirituality
  • What types of spiritual practices engage youth in your congregation?
  • How might the Sunday service better speak to youth?
  • How can congregations and districts help youth to determine their spiritual needs, articulate their faith, develop a UU identity, and live out their faith in the world?
The response to the survey suggests that the UU youth population is predominantly white and heterosexual.

How does this affect whether our youth ministry is welcoming to youth of diverse identities and backgrounds?

welcoming glbtqq youth
Welcoming GLBTQQ Youth
  • Survey respondents who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning are very active in Unitarian Universalism and hold many leadership positions.
  • # of Welcoming Congregations (U.S./Canada)
    • 545 (51% of congregations)
  • # of congregations with trained Our Whole Lives facilitators in them
    • 633 out of 1042 (61%)
    • 84% of all adult members belong to these UU congregations

Could there be a relationship?

welcoming youth of color
Welcoming Youth of Color
  • Among youth survey respondents, youth of color are more represented at the district/continental levels, and hold proportionately more leadership positions in continental programs.
welcoming transracially adopted youth
Transracially adopted youth survey respondents made up 63% (37) of all adopted respondents. 34 of them are Youth of Color.

Transracially adopted youth who took the survey rated the youth group experience consistently and significantly lower than other respondents, especially in these areas:

Feel sense of belonging: 77% all, 59% transracially adopted

Feel pressure to conform: 16% all, 29% transracially adopted

Have opportunities to address significant social issues: 71% all, 56% transracially adopted

Welcoming Transracially Adopted Youth
welcoming all youth
Welcoming All Youth
  • How can UU youth ministry be a welcoming and supportive environment for youth of all identities and backgrounds?
  • How can congregations support the healthy identity development of youth?
anti oppression in youth ministry
Anti-Oppression in Youth Ministry
  • Congregations acknowledged that racism and oppression affect youth as well as adults.
  • One congregation decided to implement more anti-racism and anti-oppression work as a result of their conversation.
anti oppression
  • Does your congregation actively engage in anti-oppression work?
  • How can congregations engage in intergenerational anti-racism and anti-oppression work?
  • How can Unitarian Universalist youth ministry address issues of privilege and marginalization in the youth community?

What is your youth

ministry buzz?