Central Avenue, Middletown

How can a historic mainline church in small-town America challenge "the way we've always done it"? In this episode, meet Lisa Kaufer of the First Presbyterian Church of Middletown, Ohio, and listen to the Log College Project's Lead Researcher, Kelsey Lambright, as they explore how intentional listening and embracing failure are key ingredients in doing a new thing.

I think that was really liberating, the first time that we heard from the voice of Princeton that 'we expect you to fail, and it's okay! And we will learn from that failure, and "fail forward" is a thing'... And so to really benefit from the innovation process or the design process, you have to embrace that value, or it doesn't work. -Lisa Kaufer

Part One—More Than a Single Story
(0:00-5:07)
Host Megan DeWald sets the stage for understanding the context in which the First Presbyterian Church of Middletown, Ohio is developing a new form of youth ministry through the Institute for Youth Ministry's Log College Project.

Part Two—The Ghost of Youth Ministry Past
(5:08-13:34)
Abigail Visco Rusert discusses how the nostalgic longing that churches have to return to the youth ministry models of the past gets in the way of our capacity attend to the real needs of young people today. Design Fellow Lisa Kaufer shares how her church has worked to embrace "failure" as a virtue of the design process.

Part Three—Safe Space
(13:35-24:53)
Lisa explores how her church has been experiencing major paradigm shifts that are the result of the intentional practice of listening to the community. This practice also led to the discovery that young people need safe space outside the walls of the church where they can experience true welcome and belonging.

Part Four—The Practice of Prophetic Listening
(24:54-32:53)
Kelsey Lambright, the Lead Researcher for the Log College Project, reflects on how First Pres Middletown has begun to value the perspectives and passions of their young people, even honoring their concerns as prophetic.

Conclusion & Credits
(32:54-34:15)
Next week, we feature stories from Calvary Episcopal Church of Rochester, Minnesota, and learn about how their unique context in a premiere medical destination has informed their dreams of connecting middle school students to one another and to the church.

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Audio editing  and production by Nii Addo Abrahams (Follow @_nickyflash_)
Music available at Epidemic Sound (https://www.epidemicsound.com/)
The IYM thanks Maiia Avelino, Lisa Kaufer, Kelsey Lambright, & Christine Toto.