The CYMT Innovation Laboratory seeks to (a) foster the creation of new models of youth ministry beyond the tired youth group model, (b) discover and name congregational characteristics that either promote or hinder innovative ability, and (c) refine our approach to successfully leading congregations through a practical theological innovation design process. Ultimately, the Innovation Lab will help to shape the future of youth ministry.
In 2017, the Center for Youth Ministry Training was awarded a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to create an Innovation Laboratory for the faith formation of young people. We believe that the modern formula for youth ministry, which emphasizes gathering peer-based groups as the dominant model, needs updating. We believe we have been called to create and innovate in the image of our Creator. As we bring design thinking into conversation with practical theology, we want to help youth ministers develop the ability to create and test new models and approaches that organically fit into their congregational context.
The Innovation Lab is designed to help youth pastors and teams from their congregation develop new, practical models for youth ministry that are theologically grounded, and which better intersect with the real lives of today’s adolescents. Participation in the Lab includes a five-phase Theological Innovation Process, a coach from outside the congregation to guide the process, and funding.
Thanks to a grant from the Texas Methodist Foundation, we are integrating a new cohort of United Methodist youth directors in Texas to serve as “Lead Innovators,” which means, they will be walking through our Theological Innovation Process. During their time in the Lab, they will prototype their ideas for youth ministry in their congregation with an innovation team that they assemble.
“It is so enriching [being a Lead Innovator] working with a dedicated and passionate team of both adults and teenagers from our congregation that have the heart to find new ways of engaging young people in our city. Every time we meet I leave with energy and excitement, ready for the next part of the journey. Being a part of the Innovation Lab has also infused an element of excitement in being a part of something bigger than just our congregation. It has begun to capture the imagination of many different people in our church and I’ve watched it contribute to the new energy our church has been seeing recently.”
Download a free Innovation Lab Application Guide PDF
Observe, engage, and interact to understand and empathize with your design audience and the lives they lead.
Work to uncover the real reasons behind the issues and problems that youth and youth ministry are facing in your context.
Guided by theology, establish parameters for solutions to your problem as you trust the Holy Spirit to expand your imagination.
Brainstorm, test, fail, and repeat as you generate possible ideas to solve the problems you’ve identified.
In light of your theological parameters and prototyping, you will implement your full-scale Big Idea.
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