The Center for Youth Ministry Training has been awarded a $219,000 grant from the Texas Methodist Foundation to create a second cohort of the Youth Ministry Innovation Laboratory. The Lab is designed to develop new models for ministry that are both practical and theologically grounded and that seek to better intersect with the real lives of adolescents.
We are searching for five United Methodist youth directors in Texas to serve as “Lead Innovators,” which means spending eighteen months walking through our Theological Innovation Process. During your time in the Lab, you will prototype your ideas for youth ministry in your congregation with an innovation team that you assemble.
As a Lead Innovator, you will be paired with a coach to help you navigate the Theological Innovation Process. You will be in a cohort with the other innovating churches in the Lab. And, you and your church will both receive funding: a stipend for you and seed money for your congregation to implement your church’s ideas.
The application process consists of four stages that you and your congregation must clear before being accepted to the Innovation Laboratory. The deadline for application to Stage 1 is April 15, 2019. Once Stage 1 is complete, you will receive instructions for Stage 2.
If your application is successful, you will begin a two-year process that will culminate in your church prototyping and testing an innovative form of youth ministry uniquely designed for your context.
During the application process and throughout the grant, Lead Innovators will work closely with your Youth Ministry Innovation Team (YMIT).
Anyone serving in a lead youth ministry role (youth pastor, youth director, student ministries pastor, etc.) in a United Methodist Church in Texas is eligible to apply on behalf of their congregation. Preference will be given to applicants who (a) are graduates (alumni/fellows) of CYMT, (b) have served in their congregation for more than 30 months, (c) are serving in a current or former CYMT partner congregation, and (d) demonstrate aptitude in understanding and operating out of a practical theological framework.
You will assemble a team of six to nine individuals from your congregation that includes at least two teenagers, a parent, and a committee member (SPRC, Session, Elder, Vestry, etc). Some team members may take on two roles, but each of the following roles must be filled: (1) The Visionary is the person with big ideas who is looking to the future; (2) The Administrator is a detail-oriented person who identifies problems before they happen; (3) The Iconoclast isn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers and challenge the status quo; (4) The Helpful Skeptic questions ideas and helps the team think through potential issues more fully; (5) The Communicator is able to succinctly explain ideas, concepts, and visions; (6) The Champion is able to win people over with passion and charisma; (7) The Connector knows everybody and can connect the team to the right resources; (8) The Outsider isn’t directly connected to the youth ministry but can represent the mindset of the congregation; (9) The Creative is a walking Pinterest Board who is able to spice up even the mundane.
Over the two-year process, your YMIT will work closely together: having meetings at least monthly while also participating in the Brain Trust and Regional Trainings together.
Lab Church team from Sturgis, KY
Research and design firms all over the world have discovered that innovation happens through a planned process. After looking at a number of these processes, we discovered that they parallel the consensus model of practical theology. We merged the best elements of design thinking processes with this method of practical theology to create a robust and workable, 5 Step Theological Innovation Process for the purpose of ministry with young people.
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.
March-April 15: Applications Open
April 15: Deadline to complete Step 1 of application
May 3: Deadline to complete Step 2 of application
May 24: Deadline to complete Step 3 of application
June 14: Deadline to complete Step 4 of application
July: Notification of Acceptance
Pre-Think Tank meetings begin
August: Ongoing pre-launch meetings with your team
September 20-21: Think Tank
Phase 1 begins
October-December: Team working through Phase 1
January-February: Phase 2
February: Half-day training event
February-April: Phase 3
April-August: Phase 4
September: Shark Tank (required team event)
September-December: Phase 5
As Lead Innovator of your congregation’s innovation team, you will receive a $2,500 stipend paid in installments as your church’s innovation team reaches its benchmarks. This money can be used as you see fit, e.g., additional income, creating a personal care plan for your own mental health and physical wellness, taking a dream vacation, paying for date nights and babysitting, or hiring additional administrative help to reduce your workload.
Churches accepted into the program will have the opportunity to apply for grants up to $6,000. These grants are need-based and will be awarded to help your congregation purchase the necessary resources to prototype, test, and scale innovative youth ministry models.