Reboot Youth Ministry Initiative Announces Innovator Cohort


DALLAS (SMU) – The Lilly Endowment-funded initiative at Perkins School of Theology, “Reboot: The Congregation as Youth Worker,” has selected 10 congregations for the program’s second phase of developing innovative congregational youth ministry.

The new Innovator Cohort includes:

These 10 congregations were selected from the original 18 chosen from 62 applicants to participate in the Starter Cohort. During this initial phase, all 18 congregations completed a six-month discernment process exploring congregation-based youth ministry with a comprehensive project proposal.

“The proposals we received from the congregations selected for the Innovator Cohort embodied with excellence and creativity the core purpose of the Reboot grant, which is to equip and energize the congregation for their ministry with youth,” said Rev. Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean for External Programs and co-director of the Reboot grant.

These congregations will receive up to $12,000 in grant funding to support their proposed Reboot program that each will implement during this cohort phase. With the help of a youth ministry consultant, known as a Reboot coach, these congregations will lead the way toward programmatic innovation in congregational youth ministry. Five veteran youth workers were selected as Reboot coaches based on their professional experience working with churches of similar contexts (ecumenical, cultural, economic, social, and racial) and proficiency in developing innovative models in congregational ministry with youth:

  • Stephen Bumgarner, Director of Youth Ministries, First United Methodist Church Waxahachie, TX
  • Joel Eichler, Director of Student Ministries, First United Methodist Church, Prosper, TX
  • Beth Johnson, Minister to Youth and Families, University Park United Methodist Church, Dallas, TX
  • Shanterra McBride, Founder and Chief Consultant, Marvelous University, Dallas, TX
  • Zach Schrick, Director of Youth Ministries, First United Methodist Church, Conway, AR
The coaching team will be led by Rev. Sam Halverson, Associate Director, Center for Congregational Excellence for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Halverson is also the author of One Body: Integrating Teenagers into the Life of Your Church, an integral resource used by the Reboot cohort.

The Innovator Cohort will embark on the implementation and iteration process for the next 18 months. Using their project proposals as a prototype, these congregations will design and develop a sustainable and innovative model for a congregational ministry with youth. Once these prototypes are tested and vetted for success in their own context, each congregation will adopt a church partner from their community to mentor.

About the Reboot Youth Ministry Initiative

Reboot is a program of SMU Perkins School of Theology, housed within the Perkins Office of External Programs, 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 press release here.

Co-directors of the grant are the Rev. Bart Patton, Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry Education, and Rev. Dr. Priscilla Pope-Levison, Associate Dean, Office of External Programs. Also working on the grant team are Emma Flores, Administrative Assistant of the Reboot Program and Becky Stegmann, Perkins Graduate Student Assistant.

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