As we learned this past summer (and if you didn’t, here it is again!) FUMCFW Youth Ministries applied and was selected to participate in a Youth Ministry Innovation Laboratory through the Center for Youth Ministry Training (CYMT), an organization that trains and educates youth pastors to engage in practical, effective, and theologically-grounded ministry. CYMT created the Innovation Lab to help local churches develop models for ministry that best meet the needs of today’s teenagers.
“FUMCFW is all about reaching new communities of people, trying new things, and being brave enough to go out on a limb, and youth ministries is no different,” says Kat Bair, FUMCFW Director of Youth Ministries. “We are already a successful and innovative program that is always experimenting, tweaking, and looking toward the future, which made us a natural fit for this project. Our hope is that partnering with the Lab will help us to even more creatively imagine what the future of youth ministry might look like — at FUMCFW and beyond!”
Our Youth Ministry Innovation Team is comprised of two youth, two young adults, two parents, and two staff, all specifically chosen for the roles they play in the church, their desire to be part of whatever is next, and contributions to the ministry. The team is led by Kat Bair, with help from Matt Britt, and also includes Jennifer Bond, Linda Kennedy, Dave Alvarado, Jillian Voelker, Hannah Campbell, and Garin Kelley.
Phase 1 of the Theological Innovation Process, called “The Describing Phase,” will begin at a Brain Trust event in September. As our team works through the first of five phases, the goal will be to pinpoint specific issues for youth in our community and to begin wrestling with our church’s relationship with these issues. They will do this by researching our local community, interviewing teenagers, and completing a congregational analysis. Phase 1 will be complete before Christmas.
In the new year, the team will work to uncover the sociological reasons behind the problems they found to be most pressing for youth in our community. As a group they will engage in theology surrounding each issue and then consider potential solutions. After testing their ideas, they will implement their big ideas full-scale.
What is our part of this project as a congregation? Prayer, participation (mostly consisting of thoughtful response when asked), and above all, staying informed about this very special team’s activity and how we as a church can support their work.
We’ll be reporting regularly on this work in the FUMCFW Weekly E-News. Please also feel free to reach out to our team members or Kat Bair, Director of Youth Ministries (firstname.lastname@example.org) at any time to learn more about how our FUMCFW Youth Ministries will be part of taking youth ministry design to the next level!