Ministry Incubators’ affiliate Nate Stuckey and the Farminary at Princeton Seminary just released a video about this exciting new project. Check out the video below and learn more about the Farminary here.
Anna (not her real name) is a fellow lifer in youth ministry. We’ve been friends for more than two decades. Last summer over ice cream, I was telling her about Ministry Incubators. I couldn’t tell if I heard a twinge of betrayal in her voice when she said:
“I just think it’s fascinating that after all these years in youth ministry—now you and Mark are doing this missional-entrepreneurship thing instead.”
I hadn’t thought that founding Ministry Incubators was “leaving” youth ministry. I thought it was giving it wings.
The connection between youth ministry and missional innovation and enterprise seems obvious to me—and from what I can tell, youth ministers are acting on this connection with increasing boldness. Intuitively, we know that youth ministry-as-we-know-it must change. Intuitively, youth ministers sense that young people who want to make a difference in the world seldom seem to think that the church as the best place to do it. Intuitively, we know that youth ministry is the church’s R&D lab. Short on funds and long on chutzpah, creativity, and missional imagination, youth ministers—like the young people we love–tend to be an entrepreneurial lot.
It’s time we talk about this, and not just intuit it.
Consider these realities:
Whether the average youth leader is thinking deliberately about missional innovation or not, young people are. More and more, youth—and youth leaders– are pioneering an entrepreneurial moment in the Western church.
Of course, mixing ministry, innovation, and entrepreneurship is hardly a new idea. For centuries, monks, missionaries, and ministers in distressed communities have worked this way out of necessity. If your youth group has ever hosted a car wash, you’ve dabbled in entrepreneurial ministry too.
Here’s the new wrinkle. For millennials, entrepreneurship is not just a way to make money for ministry–entrepreneurship is ministry, and it’s a more compelling way to make a difference in the world than youth group in the church basement. Social entrepreneurship has become a secular mission movement. It’s the primary way millennials think about “changing the world,” one pair of Tom’s Shoes or Warby Parkers at a time.
Young people are seeing, perhaps more quickly than the rest of the church, that entrepreneurship can be an expression of faith, a vehicle for creativity, and a venue for mission. Teenagers and young adults are reminding us that the church itself is an entrepreneurial venture—a community of people who “undertake” (entreprendre) a way of life that shares God’s costly grace with people desperate for abundant life.
What if we “flip” youth ministry? What if– instead of spending our time as youth ministers dreaming up ministries that we must convince youth to join—we asked young people about their ministries, and how the church can come alongside them to support what God is calling them to do? As one youth leader told me, “We’ve got to stop using young people as cheap labor for our ministries, and start learning to support youth in theirs.”
It sure doesn’t feel like Mark and I have left, or are doing something “instead of,” youth ministry. It feels like something Anna and I have talked about a hundred times is happening: the way we think about youth ministry (and maybe all ministry) is fundamentally changing—and youth ministers may be among the first to see it.
I’m all in.
Kenda Creasy Dean
The Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is hosting a conversation for church leaders (lay and clergy) ready to strategize new ways to do church. There is little question these are challenging days for the church. Programs that always seemed to work decades ago no longer enjoy the same vitality or participation. The Saturday morning event (9:00am-noon) promises to point us toward the hidden opportunities embedded in the looming challenges facing our churches.
Discover Hidden Opportunities with Ministry Incubators
Congratulations to Aquayla, one of the five original Try Pie teens, on her high school graduation this Spring and for her full-time work at a care facility in our community! When asked what job skills she gained in Try Pie that she has taken into her new job, Aquayla mentioned, “I learned how important a smile is and to always be honest and responsible.”
Aquayla also shared that financial lessons taught in Try Pie were critically important for her. “I learned how to budget, save money, and to give. I’m currently working with one of our Try Pie adults to set up a plan for my paychecks at this new job.”
Cooperation skills were also another take-away for Aquayla. “I learned a bit more about how to cooperate with people when you might not all agree.” She mentioned that having a good attitude goes a long way in preventing potential conflicts.
Another highlight during Aquayla’s time with Try Pie is that she got to take her first flight on an airplane to Hartford, CT, to attend a CCDA intensive on “Listening to the Community” that was being facilitated by Laura Hoy. Laura certainly appreciated the companionship and assistance that Aquayla provided on the trip, and Aquayla got to learn more about the philosophy of Christian Community Development.
What did Aquayla love most about Try Pie? “I loved that it’s a business but that we also formed a close bond with one another.” And of course, making and eating her favorite kind of pie- PECAN- was also a sweet experience!
Ministry Incubator’s affiliate Dr. Nate Stucky and the Princeton Farminary has been featured in TakePart, an online news & lifestyle magazine and social action platform. Nate, the director of the Princeton Farminary and an early Hatchaton participant, has seen his vision for grounding theological education in an agricultural setting come to fruition in a farm owned by Princeton Theological Seminary. You can read the article here. Stay tuned for more updates about exciting projects from our Ministry Incubator Affiliates.