NASHVILLE, TENN. (August, 2019) – The Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT) is proud to announce a new advancement for the CYMT Innovation Laboratory for Youth Ministry.
The Center for Youth Ministry Training launched the Innovation Laboratory in 2017 through a generous grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. in an effort 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.
Nearly all of the models for modern ministry reduce youth ministry to a peer-based youth group. Despite the fact that the mainline church faces declining numbers, it continues to turn primarily to the modern formula with its emphasis on peer-based groups for personal spiritual enrichment as a dominant, if not sole, form of youth ministry. CYMT believes the key to breaking out of the mold is to help a select group of congregations design and test innovative models of youth ministry that are practical and theologically rich.
The laboratory, then, exists to provide congregations the resources and tools to create innovative models based on a five-phase research plan, the Theological Innovation Process.
In their first year, the Innovation Lab carefully selected ten churches across the Southeast to begin implementing the Theological Innovation Process.
In 2018, shortly after the inaugural cohort of Innovation Churches began, CYMT was awarded a second grant from the Texas Methodist Foundation to allow CYMT to extend its reach and create a second cohort of a research-based incubator for innovation in youth ministry in Texas.
CYMT is now pleased to announce that the congregations of the Texas cohort have been selected and are on their way to begin their own findings for new ways of youth ministry.
The CYMT Texas Innovation Lab Church Congregations and their Lead Innovators are: First United Methodist of Fort Worth (Lead Innovator: Kat Bair), First United Methodist Church of Katy (Lead Innovator: Zach Cheeseman), St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston (Lead Innovator: Tiffin Wilsford), Westbury United Methodist Church in Houston (Lead Innovator: Katy Sabayrac).
CYMT is proud to announce the expansion of our original initiative into Theology Together 2.0. CYMT aims to develop a curriculum to be used in local congregations and ministries. Taking what we have learned about engaging youth in deep theological reflection during missional experiences and embedding those processes into congregational youth ministries.
"I hope students come away from my courses with the ability to think more deeply, richly and theologically about their youth ministry practice. I think a lot of what happens in youth ministry happens unreflectively and can be deforming to young people, and my courses are intended to give students a theological framework for evaluating and reforming their youth ministry practice."
Of course, I want students to drink deeply from the academic readings, lectures and discussions, and I want them to be informed by the academics. But more than that, I want them to see that youth ministry is a calling of God, an important part of God’s mission in the world, one that should give them pride and evoke humility at the same time.