Home > CYMT, Youth Ministry > What is a Think Tank?

What is a Think Tank?

Wikapedia says A think tank is an organization or individual that conducts research and engages in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategyeconomyscience or technology issues,industrial or business policies, or military advice.[1] Many think tanks are non-profit organizations, which some countries such as the United States and Canada provide with tax exempt status. Other think tanks are funded by governments, advocacy groups, or businesses, or derive revenue from consulting or research work related to their projects.[2]

This made my head hurt so I almost clicked the this article is confusing button to add what a Youth Ministry Think Tank is to help others understand better, but most people don’t live in a youth ministry world and it may have only added to their confusion.

For the Center for Youth Ministry Training’s purposes, a Think Tank was an ingenious way to get the Lilly Foundation to support our desire to get some of the leaders in youth ministry in the same room to talk about how we can educate youth workers better.

In 2007 when I was writing a grant proposal to the Lilly Foundation for our ministry, I received some advice about putting something in the grant that could be cut from the project.  So I asked for permission to bring together 18-24 leaders in the youth ministry academic and practitioner world together to dream of ways to better equip youth workers.  It was expensive and felt like a dream, so I anticipated this would be my cut item.  Instead Chris Coble with the Lilly Foundation told me that were very excited about our Think Tank.  I was so stunned that I confessed that I expected it to be cut.  Chris explained that Lilly was curious.  Lilly had funded other youth ministry think tanks but they had always been convened by the academy (inviting each other or inviting practitioners to inform their research).  Lilly was curious if anything different would happen if the practitioner invited the academy to the table.  We were pumped – Kenda Creasy Dean, Kara Powell,  Andy Root, and others along with some of the best youth ministers in the country coming together to help us with our ministry and to dream big dreams.

In the Spring of 2008, we gathered at Princeton for the first time.  You know that feeling of getting to hang out with other great youth ministers and dream.  Youth workers are so creative and we believe that God wants more for young people and the church.  This group had that kind of shared passion that allowed for relationships to grow quickly and for shared dreams to emerge.

I was shocked that folks seemed to know of each other, but not really know each other.  It became quickly apparent that one of the best things that the Think Tank would do was build relationships of laughter and shared dreams among these national leaders.

Next week, 24 leaders in youth ministry will gather at the Center for Youth Ministry Training offices to continue the conversations that began in 2008 and begin to put feet to some plans to make some dreams a reality.

Over the next two days, I will recap the 2008 and 2009 Think Tanks and share the topics/goals for 2010.  We will be using Twitter and Facebook to get some feedback.  But I wanted to answer the question that will be on everyone’s mind when they see folks posting about a think tank first – “What is a think tank!”

You can follow our conversation at YMtoday.com, at YMtoday’s Facebook fan page, and #ymthink on twitter.

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