Questions About the Innovation Grant

What is it?

What is an Innovation Lab, anyway?

Laboratories are devoted to testing and experimenting, and the CYMT Innovation Laboratory is devoted to creating, experimenting and testing new ideas for youth ministry.

What is “design thinking,” and what does the Innovation Lab think that the design process has to do with the church?

One of the best definitions comes from the Interaction Design Foundation, “Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding.”  As Christians, we believe that the Gospel is living and active, and we follow the ultimate example of our Creator. Design thinking, coupled with practical theology opens up an incredible array of opportunities to serve the Kingdom.

What does the commitment entail?

If you are selected, you will make a two-year commitment to participate in the Innovation Lab. During these two years, you will attend all Lab events and meet regularly with your coach. You will construct and lead a team who will also participate in all Lab events. (Please visit the home page to view the timeline.) Together, you will develop and test new ideas, adapting them as you go.

What is the Lilly Endowment? What is a Lilly grant?

The Lilly Endowment is one of the largest grant-making organizations in the United States and provides generous funding for projects in religion and education. Originally endowed by the family of Eli Lilly (the founder of Lilly Pharmaceuticals), the Endowment has granted CYMT $1.1. million to develop innovative models of youth ministry in the United States.

Application Questions

What are the “stages” of the application?

We staged the application process in order to save you time. In stage one, we get to know you as the lead innovator, in stage two we begin to understand your relationship with your congregation, in stage 3 we seek to understand the culture of your congregation. In stage 4, we help you assemble an innovation team.

What kind of applicants are you looking for, and how will the decision be made?

We are looking for Lead Innovators who have passion and drive for youth ministry, and who possess enough social capital to lead a team – and the congregation – through the theological innovation process. We are looking for churches who trust their youth pastor, who are open to new ideas, and who are willing to follow a process for sake of ultimately doing better ministry. We are looking for adaptability and a willingness to follow the Innovation Process.

Who will be making the decision of the 10 churches admitted to this program?

The Innovation Lab Advisory Team will select ten congregations to participate in the Lab based on the merits of their application.

When will I know if I’ve been selected?

Final selection of innovation partner congregations will be announced to the public by June 15, 2018.

What if I already have an idea I want to try?

That’s great! But recognize that our design innovation process brings together a team of people who will together determine the needs of your congregation and community and then develop ideas together.

What if I don’t have any ideas, but I want to try this?

Innovation doesn’t require ultra-creative people, or those with the best ideas.  Rather, our design innovation process brings together a team of people to work a consistent process that leads to great ideas and organic ministry.

My church has no money and I’m only part-time there. Should I even bother to apply?

Yes, you should apply! The lead innovator of each Innovation Partner Church team will personally receive $10,000 over two years for their work on the project, and partner churches can apply for up to $12,000 in seed money to create a new model of youth ministry. Participation in the Innovation Laboratory could be just the thing your church needs to move to the next level in youth ministry.

I have some reservations about my congregation’s attitude about this, but it sounds awesome and I believe it’s exactly what we need. Is it worth applying?

Yes! You should apply. Even congregations that don’t think they need to change can benefit from trying something new. The Innovation Lab Advisory Team will consider the culture of your congregation during the application process. If you are selected, you will be paired with a coach who can help you navigate your way through the process with your innovation team and with your congregation.

What if I’d love to do something new, but don’t feel like I have the time?

It’s important that the local congregation recognizes the need for adaptability and flexibility in this process and will be willing to give you space to participate. Our intent is to help you make time with an annual stipend that can be used however you need see fit – including hiring extra help or wellness plans to alleviate stress.

What happens if I quit or get fired during the two years of the Lab?

The money invested by the CYMT Innovation Lab will be allocated to the church to use as they see fit. You will not continue to receive the personal stipend.

What happens if I get accepted and my church team fails?

When it comes to innovating successfully, failure is key. Failure, and the way you respond to it, should propel you forward in ways that you might not otherwise plan for – so we actually expect that, at some point, you will fail.  If the Innovation Process is followed consistently, it is our contention that you will not ultimately FAIL, but that your final product may look very different than what you originally intended.

What happens when the grant is over – what’s next?

The goal of the two years is to help you work through an innovation process to design a new model of youth ministry.  At this point you will have completed your time with us, but it is our expectation that the principles and process will help you to continue innovating and adapting in your context — even as you move into new roles in the future.