Youth ministry will usually encompass one or more of the following:
- Encouraging young people who profess a faith to learn more about it and become more involved in spiritual life.
- Proselytism of young people who do not profess the faith of the organization, but who may have shown an interest.
- Providing open youth clubs or other activities for the common good of the young people, sometimes without an overtly religious agenda.
Youth ministers may be trained in an education specifically to work with youth. Many Bible and Christian universities and colleges now offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in youth ministry. While youth ministry used to be considered a stepping stone on the way to becoming priests, nuns and other important vocations, the trend is currently moving toward treating it as its own vocation.
There are organizations within the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (the primary organization of Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States), as well as within the Canadian Unitarian Council (the national body for Unitarian Universalists in Canada), which minister to and with youth, of which Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU) is the largest and most apparent. YRUU strongly emphasizes youth empowerment, along with youth-adult partnership. There are also specific youth-oriented programs, such as Coming of Age, and Our Whole Lives, a lifespan sexuality education program with a youth age group.