What is CYMT Innovation Lab?

We are passionate about youth, as well as the intersection of daily life and living faith. The Innovation Lab aims to help develop new models of faith formation for young people. 

Who We Are

The Center for Youth Ministry Training launched the Innovation Laboratory in 2018 for the purpose of spurring innovation in youth ministry. We are passionate about youth, as well as the intersection of daily life and living faith. We are excited about what new models of youth ministry might mean for the formation of young people.

About the Center for Youth Ministry Training

The Center for Youth Ministry Training equips youth ministers and churches to develop theologically informed and practically effective youth ministries. Our graduate residency program is unique: CYMT creates a whole-person learning environment by nurturing residents academically in the classroom, vocationally in the local church, and emotionally through personal coaching and peer interaction. At the end of three years, you’ll graduate with a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry, three years experience in a local church, a cohort of theologically-minded people, and no debt.

For more than a decade, CYMT has been committed to training and educating well-equipped, called, and theologically informed youth ministers to lead the next generation of youth ministry. We are convinced that creative and innovative youth ministers who are educated as practical theologians are key for the future of youth ministry.





Foster the creation of new models of youth ministry beyond the tired youth group model


Discover and name congregational characteristics that either promote or hinder innovative ability


Refine our approach to successfully leading congregations through a practical theological innovation design process



Through participation in the Innovation Laboratory, your congregation will be lead through a process of creating an approach to youth ministry that is organic and unique to your congregation and context. Along the way you’ll find that your congregational culture is enriched and enlivened, and you’ll gain experience leading a team of people through a transformative theological innovation process. You will have developed and tried a new model for youth ministry and will be equipped to keep thinking in new ways that will help you continue to innovate.

Why Innovate?

We believe that the modern formula for youth ministry, which emphasizes gathering peer-based groups as the dominating model, needs updating. We also believe we have been called to create and innovate in the image of our Creator.   CYMT is creating A Path towards Innovation that has several vital components that we believe are necessary for success.

What do we mean by ‘innovation’? We don’t mean just coming up with a new idea to replace the lock-in or a creative way of doing Sunday School.  Rather than seeking tweaks or incremental enhancements to existing models and processes, the Innovation Laboratory for Youth Ministry seeks to foster innovation that dramatically changes assumptions about the nature of youth ministry, upends expectations, and develops groundbreaking means and disruptive methods for ministry with young people in the American mainline church.


Youth Ministry Innovation Team

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.

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 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



Lilly Endowment Grant

CYMT was awarded a grant in 2017 to create our Innovation Laboratory for the faith formation of young people.  By bringing design thinking into conversation with practical theology, we hope to help youth ministers develop the ability to create and test new models for youth ministry that organically fit the context of their local congregations.

Texas Methodist Foundation Grant

In 2018 CYMT was awarded a grant from the Texas Methodist Foundation for the Innovation Laboratory for Youth Ministry. This grant allows CYMT to create a second cohort of the Innovation Lab in Texas so that we can continue to discover new models of youth ministry.