The Missing Voices Project
We take seriously the missing voices of young people on the margins of our society and churches – and we are convinced they have a lot to say. By listening to young people from the margins we will learn about youth ministry in ways that will challenge and transform us all.
What do we mean by “youth on the margins”?
We are convinced that the dominant model of youth ministry in North America has excluded young people on the margins for whom God cares deeply. We have missed these young people and their voices are missing in our communities of worship. We have a few ideas about who this might be, but the beauty of this project is that we will help grant participants discern who has been overlooked in their community, how they can love and serve them, and ultimately be transformed by their presence. Some examples might include:
- incarcerated youth
- youth with disabilities
- teen parents
- adolescent immigrants
- homeless youth
- LGBTQIA+ youth
- Who else? Help us figure this out!
What does innovation have to do with youth ministry?
Love! Love is why we innovate. It is the love we have for the young people in our congregations that forces us to always reimagine what ministry looks like. Love forces us to open ourselves and our ministries to marginalized young people as well. We hope to borrow best practices from the discipline of design thinking in order to more faithfully design and implement ministries for young people we have been overlooking.
How will this project help our congregation develop a new approach to Youth Ministry?
The Missing Voices Project will provide a two year process that will include:
- A design thinking retreat aimed at helping innovate new ministries
- Theological & Spiritual Formation focused on ministry at the margins
- 10,000 to help kickstart the project
- 12 months of support from a Ministry Architects Consultant
- Annual gatherings to learn from one another
What is the timeline of the Missing Voices Project?
Summer 2019 – Congregational Application Process
Fall 2019 – Immersion Trip to Los Angeles
The “Lead Innovators” (youth worker) from each participating congregation will travel to Los Angeles for an immersion experience with the Missing Voices project staff. Here we will focus on spiritual practices that will help us see those young people we have been missing by visiting wildly different and innovative expressions of youth ministry.
January 2020 – A Year of Design
Throughout 2020 we will focus on giving the church design teams tools for innovative design thinking, theological reflection, spiritual formation, and walk them through a process of designing their local youth ministry project. By the end of this year teams should have a well thought through plan for a new expression of youth ministry.
January 2021 – A Year of Practice
We will start the year with each congregation receiving a $10,000 grant to kickstart their project. Over the next twelve months we will walk alongside design teams as they launch their youth ministry project. Participants will succeed, fail, and learn as they get projects up and running.
January 2022 – Celebration
At our closing event in January of 2022 we will share stories, celebrate progress, and look to the future of our participants’ youth ministry initiatives.
How will this project change youth ministry as we know it?
We expect these missing voices to teach us something about youth ministry that could not be learned anywhere else. Our hope is that the presence of these young people will push the broader conversation around youth ministry to new places of insight and understanding. We long for the day when those who are now on the margins will be at the center of our imagination for youth ministry.
Is this only for Churches?
By the nature of the grant guidelines, this project must work within congregational systems as we explore new models of youth ministry. However, we are excited that a few congregations have chosen to work alongside community organizations and nonprofits as a part of their projects!