Mapping the Movement

by Jonathan Barr, Executive Director of Training Development

Locations where youth leaders trained by YMI are ministering around the world.

Covid-19 mixed up YMI’s plans for 2020 just like it mixed up everyone’s plans for 2020. We have had to readjust, realign, reschedule and rethink everything when compared to a normal year. For me, as the Executive Director of YMI Training Development, I have really been doing a lot of readjusting and rescheduling of our academic classes around the world. In several of our programs we have had to reschedule classes two or three times before we are able to continue, always having to take into consideration the different time zones of professors and students. We have even readjusted our training model by finishing the final course one of our MA graduating classes in an Asian country by using “Zoom”.

But one of the most interesting items on my list of actions falls into the ‘rethink’ area. We have done a lot of rethinking and re-imagining of our organization this year as we deal with the effects of Covid. I would even go so far to say that the Covid-19 crisis has allowed us to expand our vision for youth ministry training.

Two components of that expansion are Saturation Multiplication Training (SMT) and Youth Church Planting (YCP). I am going to be honest; I don’t think either of these ideas could have occurred if it wasn’t for the broad imagination in the mind of our President, Dr. Randy Smith. Randy is a big dreamer, or a better term, Visionary with a capital “V.” SMT and YCP are mission strategies that will help YMI move our training down to the local city, town and village level.

To accomplish those visions we need information down to the local city, town and village level on the state of youth leadership training and youth ministry outreach in each of our training countries. We are calling this compiling of information Map the Movement!

Through Map the Movement we will be able to visualize city by city, town by town, and village by village where trained youth leaders are, and even more important, where they are needed. It will allow us to gauge where youth ministry is succeeding, and where we need to focus more individual training. More importantly, it will help us track the number of youths that are getting the opportunity to culturally hear the gospel and respond. Information is knowledge and Map the Movement will give us the information that will empower YMI to target and saturate a country with professionally trained youth leaders.

For years YMI has gathered statistics that we’ve presented to our board and used in fundraising activities. Map the Movement takes the power of those statistics, combines it with modern technology and has created what we believe is a research and motivational tool for our trainers, both US and nationals.

The idea occurred when our trainer in Romania, Phil Rice, was looking at a COVID map with all the locations highlighted around the world where there were major outbreaks. Phil shared the question, “What if we could highlight on a map where YMI training is occurring, where our trainers are located and how their training is going?” Visualizing that data would be motivating. Combining that visual motivation with the idea of Saturation Multiplication Training led YMI to pursue Map the Movement. Initially we thought that the level of technology needed to accomplish this would require funding beyond our capabilities. However, another of our trainer’s skill in web development (Joe Grom, YMI Assistant Asia Director) gave us the ability to develop a system to track and map data on youth leadership training around the world.

Successful Saturation Multiplication Training (SMT) is going to require a lot of data gathering. To succeed with this new vision of reaching down to the city, town, and village level, we will need to know where our trainers are, how successful they are, and even more importantly we will need to know where our trainers are not. This information will allow us to direct our efforts of training to the areas that need it most.

YMI produces the sharpest youth leaders around the world. Map the Movement will allow us to get those leaders to the areas of greatest need.

So, what did we do during the Covid curveball? We did some rethinking and some innovation that should serve YMI well for years to come.