progressive youth ministryAs I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working with the JoPa Group to plan a conference on Progressive Youth Ministry at Fourth Church on March 19-21, 2014. I’m really excited about the potential of this conference and look forward to sharing more details soon.

In the meantime, I’m working on gathering together a comprehensive list of youth ministry leaders who either claim the progressive label or fit within that general trajectory. I took a stab at this three years ago (“What is Progressive Mainline Youth Ministry?”), but want to update it and not necessarily be bound to “mainline” youth ministry leaders. Here is what I’ve come up with (in no particular order):

Who else should be on this list?

John W. Vest

John is a "church hacker" attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. To connect with him and learn more about his work, please visit

Reader Interactions


  1. Do I still count?

    I would add Vik Schaaf at Westminster in Salem, OR and the Bend Youth Collective (Donna Jacobsen and Caitlin Jarvis). Also Ron Werner, Jr.

  2. Chad Herring (Southminster in Kansas City);
    Millason Dailey (Calvary South Pasadena);
    I”m sure I’m blanking on some more.
    I’m also honored to be included.

  3. If you’re going to be in Chicago, get some folks from the Night Ministry youth shelter–because it doesn’t get more progressive than that, really; and it’d be great if you could pull someone in from the Our Whole Lives faith-based sexuality education project. Locally, you should have Alli Baker at Wellington UCC, who is connected to both of the above. She may be a less public figure, but is eloquent and energetic as a facilitator. Hope this helps!

  4. John, at the conference, would love to hear Lib Caldwell say more about the work she is doing w/children’s education — how to teach children the Bible/faith in a way that they don’t have to “unlearn” when they hit confirmation age and realize that you can be a faithful Christian and not interpret the entire BIble literally.

    I know that the scope of your conference is youth rather than children, but this is an opportunity to think about how humans develop, what we are capable of understanding and integrating at each age –> how to teach young children to give them the very best foundation from which to claim their own faith as teens and young adults. I hope to be at the conference and to think about what progressive faith formation looks like for 3-year olds as well!

    • I’m with Amy on this-especially also in a smaller-membership church where my 12 year olds and 3 year olds are sort of in the same ‘youth group’ of about a dozen total. They’ll be growing up together, so planning for now and the future…

  5. Hey there, I’ve been having some great conversations with Tripp Fuller and Rich McCullen about hosting a youth ministry conference here in SoCal. But I’d love to join with you in doing whatever I can to help facilitate this larger conversation! Stoked to see this post.

  6. Hey John, Glad to be included on this list! I am reserving the dates on my calendar as we speak. Look forward to hearing more about this, sounds very exciting. Pax.

  7. I’ll second Alli Baker for this list. Rev. Jen Rude or Rabbi Menachem Cohen would be great folks to talk about The Night Ministry’s work. Email me or message me on fbook and I’ll be happy to share contact info.


  8. I would also recommend Alli Baker from Wellington Ave. UCC and also Rev. Julian DeShazier at University Church in Hyde Park UCC/DOC

  9. Do you have any more information on this gathering? I am very interested in attending. I serve as the Director of Youth Ministries at Avon Lake U.C.C. in Avon Lake, OH. Thanks for putting this together.

Leave a Reply