Innovation Tools

Ideation Labs and Storychasing are two tools that will guide you along the road to innovation. Both help you understand your community better. They answer questions like, Who are we? What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? What challenges are we currently facing? All important questions to answer if you want to develop a healthy, sustainable young adult ministry.

Ideation Labs

What is Ideation?

To develop a church culture that's welcoming to young adults, most churches have to be willing to change. This doesn't have to be intimidating. After all, the Church has been changing since day one and has even been on the cutting edge of innovation at different points in history. One way to flex your creative muscles and make change less intimidating is to have your own Ideation Lab. Ideation involves implementing Design Thinking—simply put, more intentional brainstorming that is often used for product or service design and marketing—to come up with new ideas and innovative solutions to problems. It encourages you to think creatively and empathetically, considering what people actually need.

Why are Ideation Labs important?

Ideation Labs allow your team to share individual stories, gain insights from the experiences of others, and dream about your future together. You'll think about who you are as individuals, as a church community, and you'll think about the problems you're facing and how to address them together. Ideation Labs double as team-building experiences. You'll come away from your Ideation Lab with a deeper understanding of each other and actionable next steps. 

What is Pivot NW's Ideation Process?

In conjunction with Astha Parmar at Inspri.co, Pivot NW created an Ideation process tailored to the needs of churches seeking to develop innovative young adult ministries.
To prepare yourselves for your own Ideation Lab, check out this resource that provides perspectives on what creating innovative ministries with and for young adults can look like: http://pivotnw-stories-and-themes.webflow.io/

How did Pivot NW develop its Ideation Process?

As we sought the help of Astha Parmar of Inspri.co (more about Astha's impressive resume can be found here), she helped us wade into the world of Design Thinking. Together, we developed a process tailored for our churches. We held trial ideation labs with several of our churches and got feedback from them on how to improve the process. Based on that feedback, we created the Ideation Process described above. We believe it is a great tool to help your church begin the process of developing a thriving young adult ministry. 

Story Chasing

What is Storytelling?

Storytelling is the practice of sharing narratives, the cultural and social activity of celebrating diverse human experiences. Often, storytelling is a way to preserve culture, instill morals, teach lessons, and/or reveal truth to listeners. The Christian tradition is dependent on storytelling. Before God's story was preserved on paper, it was passed from generation to generation through oral tradition. We partnered with Mark Yaconnelli of The Hearth, a community-based, story-telling initiative in Southern Oregon to learn more about storytelling as he understands it from a contemporary Christian perspective. Here is a sermon he gave when he visited campus to lead us through some storytelling theory and practice work.

What is Story Chasing?

Story chasing is the process of collecting the stories of people and events in our communities. These stories demonstrate who we are and how our community has been and is being formed. When you collect the stories of your own community, be careful to preserve the truth. For instance, when you read a story from one of your congregants, do not change anything. Edit for grammar, but do little else. If you are recording someone or receiving a recording, do not edit out the person's words, pieces of the story, or things that you deem to be irrelevant. One reason to have a story chaser is that some people in your community will tell a story that they may not realize is worth retelling, but a story chaser would identify such a tale because they are constantly on the hunt for new and interesting stories that can illustrate the aspirations and realities of the community. If this sounds like the work of a pastor, you wouldn't necessarily be wrong. 

Why are stories important?

Janet Yellen says that “stories create a bridge from the abstract to the practical.” This is vitally true. Stories, and storytelling, are powerful tools to capture people's experiences. They give us facts that cannot be captured in formulas, graphs, or statistics. We each have stories to tell—about ourselves and how we relate to the world, each other, the Church, and other generations.

How can stories help young adult ministry development?

By compiling the stories of people in your community, you develop an honest perspective about who you are. Listening to the stories of people of different demographics (age, ethnicity, gender, etc.) and different levels of church involvement (pastors, occasional attendees, avid volunteers) will give you a robust picture of your church, who you were, and who you are becoming. For example, someone who has faithfully been attending for thirty years will have a very different perspective than a newcomer who is trying to decide whether your church is a good fit. Story chasing allows you to reflect on your church's past—both the struggles and successes—and to learn about the contemporary needs, desires, and hurts of people in your community through their own eyes.
Everyone has a story to tell and they are all important. However, here are some prompts that might help you suss out stories that will be helpful as you develop your young adult ministry:

  • A story that illustrates the urgency or need your congregation feels
  • A story that reveals a deeper question of congregational identity
  • Successes and/or failures in the inclusion of young adults
  • Successes and/or failures in the participation of young adults
  • How young adults have changed you
  • How young adults complete you
  • How young adults have felt included
  • How young adults have felt alienated
  • Young adult feelings about the Church
  • Why do you think your congregation isn't a space that young adults want to be?
  • Vision for the Church
  • What has kept you away from the Church?

Storytelling Guidelines

This original content from Mark Yaconelli and The Hearth can help give shape to the telling of a story. Download to share and use for free, with appropriate attribution.

Personal Storytelling

This original content from Mark Yaconelli and The Hearth can help a community begin collecting stories, suggesting various themes, or collections to begin pursuing.

Life Inventory

This original content from Mark Yaconelli and The Hearth is a list of prompts to help an individual consider the stories that are in their own life experience.