Perkins ‘Reboot’ Youth Ministry Initiative Announces Starter Cohort

DALLAS (SMU) – “Reboot: The Congregation as Youth Worker,” a new initiative of Perkins School of Theology designed to equip entire congregations to serve in ministry with youth, has announced the selection of 18 diverse congregations to form its initial (starter) cohort. They include two African Methodist Episcopal churches, three Baptist churches, two Presbyterian (PC USA) churches, an Episcopal church, and 10 United Methodist churches of varying ethnic backgrounds, all without a full-time, paid youth worker and within a 300-mile radius of Dallas.

The initiative, co-directed by the Rev. Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education and Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean, Office of External Programs, is funded by a five-year, $1 million grant awarded to Perkins School of Theology in late 2018 by the Lilly Endowment Inc.

The 18 Starter Cohort congregations include:

“Each application received careful consideration by the 11 members of the Advisory Board, both individually and collectively,” said Dr. Pope-Levison. “We’re leading with a diverse cohort of congregations. Our advisory board’s selection is a representation of what the church looks like across America,” she said.

Rev. Patton said that while many churches delegate youth ministry to a paid staff member, the Reboot model involves the whole church and integrates youth ministry into the entire congregation.

“There is a change afoot in church growth, demographics, and size,” he said. “We are invested in innovating with congregations that look like the now and future of the church. Throughout this selection process, we have also strived to make this work applicable across all sectors.”

The Starter Cohort will engage in a six-month discernment process with participating churches exploring congregation-based youth ministry before submitting a project proposal next year.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are thrilled to work with these congregations,” says Emma Flores, Administrative Assistant of the Reboot Grant.

Patton, Pope-Levison, and Flores will gather with four representatives from each congregation during the cohort’s fall retreat in September.  During the gathering, representatives will engage in an excavation process led by two TMF (Texas Methodist Foundation) staff to launch the discernment process designed to discover each congregation’s existing strengths and possibilities for ministries with youth.

About Reboot Youth Ministry Initiative

Reboot is a program of SMU Perkins School of Theology dedicated to helping launch an innovative approach to youth ministry—one that involves the whole church and integrates youth work into the life of the congregation. Reboot will provide mentors, training retreats, leadership classes, and financial support.  Read the announcement.

For more information about the initiative and program resources, contact Emma Flores, Administrative Assistant – Reboot Grant, at



Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.