A Message from Rev. J.C. Austin: Log College Project Update

As you may remember, First Pres was named as one of twelve congregations (out of several hundred applicants from across the country and a wide range of denominations) to participate in the “Log College Project” of Princeton Theological Seminary’s Institute of Youth Ministry.

The project is a major initiative to equip and support congregations in creating innovative and intergenerational models of youth ministry for the 21st century. The name of the project comes from the seminary’s history, which traces its roots to the “Log College” in 1727: a school created to give pastors a college education, which was a significant innovation itself in the American colonies at the time. We are about halfway through the first year of a two-year process of working with Princeton on this project, so I thought now was a good time for an update.

So what, exactly, does the project involve? First, they have organized us as a “Community of Practice.” That means that we’re not intended to be doing our work in isolation from one another, but sharing and refining our ideas with each other, participating in joint online courses together, and meeting up in Princeton at the end of June 2019 for an intensive period of work to finalize our designs for our new youth ministries. The project itself relies heavily on the field of “design thinking,” which has become a popular method in recent years to help groups work on large and complex challenges that have no clear or established answer.

How to do faithful and effective ministry with, by, and for young people is such a challenge; the old models used so successfully for so long in churches increasingly do not work. So our “Design Team” meets periodically but intensively to work on “charrette boxes,” a set of exercises to complete that help us to identify our sense of purpose and ideas for ministry, and help us to begin formulating possible responses. (“Charrette” is a term for intensive meetings by architectural students to draft a solution to a design problem.)

At this point, our Design Team has completed two charrette boxes and an online course; we have two more charrette boxes before the meeting in Princeton in June, after which we will have finished designing and will start implementing! Please keep the Design Team in your prayers as they go about this crucial work in our congregation, and I want to thank each participant in this process for the time, wisdom and enthusiasm they are giving so generously to this project.

Grace and Peace,