by Meghan Hatcher

I’ve been where you are.

One of the reasons I’m so compelled by the work we’re doing at the Innovation Lab is because I’ve personally sat where many of our Lab participants sit. When I was in seminary, I participated in a cohort program with other ministry leaders. The goal was for each of us, on our own, to develop and launch an innovative ministry. That experience planted the seed for an extremely life-giving storytelling ministry I developed and continue to facilitate today. But throughout the program, I felt frustrated by the lack of structure, support, and guidance I received. 

Innovation is inherently a trek through the wilderness. By definition, innovators don’t know where they’ll end up.

I’ve learned through my personal experiences, and from the leaders and ministries the Innovation Lab serves, that there are certain frameworks that can make a positive difference for participants as they navigate the wilderness.

We know there is a better way.

We’re always learning and prototyping new approaches at the Lab. These are a few of the distinct ways we’ve designed the Lab’s cohort experience so it’s fruitful, not frustrating for your faith community. 

  • We avoid a preoccupation with innovative IDEAS: Jumping too quickly to ideation overlooks the critical role of first observing, deeply listening, and cultivating empathy for the people within a specific context. And, more often than not, initial ideas are actually rooted in assumptions rather than facts. We start with listening. 
  • We prioritize theological reflection: Rather than simply a shiny new idea, innovation in ministry must be led by the Holy Spirit. Theological reflection is a distinct step in our Theological Innovation Process so that God and transformed lives remain front and center.
  • We emphasize process over idea: Innovation that’s rooted in one ministry idea creates change for a season. Innovation rooted in a new process for developing ministry can be replicated again and again. This leads to transformation throughout an entire faith community over time. Our Theological Innovation Process emphasizes the long game, not quick fixes.
  • We require innovation to be a team sport: An individual might have an innovative idea, but it takes a team to make it a sustainable reality. Sharing the innovation journey with others helps avoid burnout and leads to more transformative ministries. 
  • We provide a trained guide: Innovation is intentional work and accountability keeps innovators moving forward. Structure, encouragement, and support from someone who knows the process are key. 

Ministry innovation doesn’t just happen. If it did, the Church wouldn’t be hustling to catch up to where the Holy Spirit is already moving in our communities.

The Innovation Lab is currently accepting applications for our Fall 2023 cohort, which launches in September. Our cohorts are the perfect opportunity for a faith community that senses the Spirit calling them to do a new thing but are looking for support to make it a reality.

If your faith community is interested in learning more, email me to schedule a conversation. I’d love to tell you how God has transformed lives through our cohorts. 

Meghan is the director of the Innovation Laboratory at CYMT. She holds degrees in journalism; sustainable development and applied sociology; and a Master of Divinity. Meghan has served diverse faith communities through pastoral leadership, youth ministry, new church development, community engagement, and ministry innovation.