Applications will open May 10 for churches interested in participating in the Reboot Youth Ministry Initiative, a program designed to strengthen congregational ministries with youth through programmatic innovation.

The program originated with a five-year, $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Perkins School of Theology announced in December. Co-directors of the grant are the Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education, and Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean, Office of External Programs.

Reboot will select and resource a cohort of congregations within a 300-mile radius of Dallas without a paid full-time youth worker.  Beginning with the application process opening May 10, an initial cohort of 18 congregations—the “Starter Cohort”—will be selected to undergo a discovery process to determine the viability of ministries with youth in their communities and will be introduced to current innovation models for youth ministries.  From this cohort, 12 congregations will be selected as the “Innovation Cohort” to apply for resources provided by the grant to build and sustain an innovative model for congregational ministry with youth.

The final objective is to share the findings, including processes, youth ministry models and stories derived from the cohort congregations and other project participants through public venues including online and print resources, the Perkins School of Youth Ministry, and a Finale Innovation Lab Symposium.

According to Patton, the project’s co-director, the rapidly changing face of youth ministry in both rural and urban congregations was the impetus for this project.

“Youth ministry is at a significant juncture right now,” said the veteran of more than two decades as a youth worker.  “It’s our hope that this new endeavor will provide useful resources to congregations as they navigate ministry with adolescents in their communities.”

Shifting the focus from a full-time paid youth worker to a more comprehensive model in which the entire congregation sees itself as the center of ministry with youth is the key to this innovative project, according to Dr. Pope-Levison.

“The financial and personnel resources that this grant makes possible will lead the way in rebooting youth ministry from the lone ranger approach of the paid youth worker to centering youth ministry as a congregational initiative and endeavor,” she said.

Applications will be available May 10 through July 10, 2019 at smu.edu/perkins/reboot . To be eligible, churches must be within 300 miles of Dallas, must not have a full-time paid youth minister, and be ready to innovate. Churches of all denominations are eligible.

For more information about the initiative, visit the website at smu.edu/perkins/reboot or contact staff at reboot@smu.edu.