The following is a story from the Center for Youth Ministry Training’s Innovation Laboratory, taken from our email newsletter sent on Jan. 28th, 2021. Parts of the story have been edited for brevity and clarity. To be the first to read stories like this, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

Pictured: Students hard at work during Memorial Drive United Methodist Church’s youth ministry work camp. [source]

Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, recently took part in an Innovation Lab cohort. And for the Memorial Drive Innovation Team, the five-phase Theological Innovation Process has been revolutionary in the team’s understanding of the root causes of stress and anxiety facing teenagers in their city.
The most influential phases were phases two (Interpreting) and three (Theological Reflection). These phases deal with the questions of “Why is the dominant issue we’re observing in our community happening?” and “What should be happening?” (according to God’s desires for God’s people and creation).

Pictured: MDUMC outdoor worship. [source]

Director of Youth Ministry Mark Bogart has been on staff at Memorial Drive for more than 15 years, but his Innovation Team’s journey has shed new light on his community.
The team initially suspected teens are experiencing high anxiety and stress due to an internalized fear of failure. However, they soon realized the issue was more complex than that. They learned teens also feel dismissed and unheard by the adults in their lives. This revelation steered their Innovation Team in an entirely new direction as intergenerational listening became critical to their innovation.
“This process has renewed my understanding of the value, importance, and necessity of going slowly when developing a new ministry,” Bogart said. “I’m really thankful for the discipline that this has instilled in me.”