A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR J.C. AUSTIN: More on the Log College Project

As I mentioned in this message last week, the Log College Project that we have been involved in for the last year through the Institute for Youth Ministry at Princeton Theological Seminary, reached an important milestone this past week.

The “Design Teams” from eleven other churches joined ours in Princeton for an intense five days of imagination and collaboration on our various project ideas.

I want to give a special thanks right up front to the representatives of our own Design Team who gave so generously of their time, energy, and wisdom these past few days. Pictured (right, receiving our $15,000 ‘check’) are Abigail Visco Rusert (Director of the Institute for Youth Ministry), me, Deb Philpotts, Shawna Gordon (Youth Chaplain), Tracy Samuelson, Elizabeth Conard, and our youth members Julia Pedroso and Sophia Pedroso.

In fact, Julia and Sophia have volunteered to speak to the congregation about their experiences at the Design Lab, so I don’t want to steal their thunder in this message. So let me just explain a little more about the project as a whole. The Log College Project has relied on the methods of “design thinking” to help us create our project. Design thinking comes out of architectural theory and practice, but has become popular in recent years for creating responses to complex social problems for which there are no clear existing answers.

In this case, that is youth ministry in the 21st century, in which the old post-World War II model of a youth group that meets weekly for games, songs, and a Bible lesson is rapidly failing. Thus, we have to “design” new models that seem promising, and then put them into action, understanding that as you do so, you will have to revise your design in light of what you learn along the way. You can probably see how that aligns with our commitment to being an “experimental church” in this new era of our life together.

I am thrilled both by the work we have done and by the team we have to do it. I look forward to talking more about our idea and seeing it unfold in the months to come!

Grace and Peace,