Happy July everyone! How did that happen? In true youth ministry form, May and June have been a blur, and we have found ourselves halfway through summer without any real understanding of how that happens! So we are playing a bit of catch up on our blog releases. So that means you will get two this month! The first is from Kate Morrison. Kate is currently "braving the wilds of Southeastern Wyoming where she serves as a Youth and Young Adult pastor." Kate has some fantastic insight and understanding to the challenges that face the church how our willingness to innovate in those challenges speak to our understanding of the Spirit moving through times of change.
I pray Kate's words are hopeful reminders of the time we find ourselves as the church, and the excitement and energy and can be found when we see this as a time of renewal instead of death. Maybe you will be inspired to innovate and the life that brings instead getting caught in the trap of death. Enjoy!
Innovation: The Way Forward
The church is changing Y'all. Gone are the days when the cultural expectation was that you and your family were present and accounted for on Sunday mornings for worship and Sunday school. Nowadays, the church struggles to be fit in amongst the variety of other activities that our American society says that we must have to be “well-rounded” individuals. Many of us who work in the church have noticed the trend and tried our hardest to prepare and keep ahead of the curve. However, as has been my experience and I am sure many church folks know, the church is one of those places that doesn’t always adjust well to change and is certainly not the first place I think about when it comes to risk-taking.
But as the church changes, risk and innovation it seems are just what is being called for. Back in January, I began the journey of being a part of the first Youth Ministry Innovation Cohort, a joint venture of Youth Ministry Architects, and the Presbyterian Youth Workers Association. As I have worked alongside my three other youth ministry colleagues and our coach, I have been so incredibly inspired, first and foremost by the love that our cohort has exhibited for our work and for the church as a whole. In the midst of the struggles that we have all had as we have worked on innovative solutions to youth ministry in our particular contexts, our faith and devotion to making youth ministry relevant have shined through it all. It is this type of dedication that tells me that yes, the church may be changing, but it is most certainly NOT dying, not so long as such dedicated and loving servants of God continue to step forward to preach, teach and make relevant the Gospel to our young people today.
As I mentioned above, the journey has not been easy for us. We have each hit roadblocks as we have tried to implement our new ideas. However, this is what the innovation process is all about. You come up with an idea, in our case built on providing a thriving faith community committed to intentionally following the example that Christ has set to serve all, you try out your idea in your church or community, and if it works, excellent! Continue to develop this idea, put some money behind it and let it blossom. And if the idea doesn’t work or is a complete flop, this is also 100% okay! You took the risk, you tried it, and now you can devote time and energy to coming up with another idea until you are able to find the right thing for your community at that particular time.
One of the greatest things that I have struggled with as I have worked in the church is that many churches are afraid to take risks. We are so scared to fail and fear that if we do so, we only feed into the belief that the church is dying. However, as I’ve stated multiple times, the church is changing, and if we don’t begin to think up innovative strategies and take risks, then we will forever be stuck, remaining stagnant until our church does in fact die. I love God and God’s church too much to see that happen. So I implore you, it is time to start changing the conversation about risk and failure and to stop demonizing these ideals. For the sake of the church, we must embrace innovation and continue to explore new and exciting ways of spreading the Gospel and reaching out to the people in our communities and across the globe. Yes, this is not necessarily an easy thing to do, and yes we may have to take a few risks and even fail a few times. But as people of faith, we should be some of the first to risk reaching out to God’s children through innovative strategies to seek the betterment of God’s kingdom. After all, if we claim to follow Jesus, then we too might be being called to risk it all, to leave our nets, our livelihoods, and all that we know, just as the disciples did. Go and do likewise.
-Rev. Kate Morrison
Bio: Hailing from North Carolina, but currently braving the wilds of Southeastern Wyoming where she serves as a Youth and Young Adult pastor, Kate enjoys the simple things in life, like a good cup of sweet tea, a strong female protagonist, and an afternoon at home with her kittens. However, Kate also finds deep meaning in her friendships and in her work, which has led her to a life of commitment to the church. In a few words, Kate is contagiously joyful, fiercely loyal, a dreamer and an activist, and a grateful Presbyterian. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @livurlif12.