Chocolate Cake & Innovation

Thanks to Meghan Hatcher, director of Children & Youth Ministry Training’s Innovation Lab, for sharing this Great Idea!

Innovation Lab’s mission is: Transforming how faith communities develop ministry.

The Ministry Lab and Innovation Lab are working together to bring the Innovation Culture Index to congregations across Minnesota. We also intend to form an 18-month cohort to support congregations intentionally working on innovative approaches to any or all areas of ministry. Joining the cohort is its own Great Idea!!

Rather than summarize or highlight the article, which I am unable to link, here are Meghan’s words, verbatim:

What Does Chocolate Cake Have to Do with Innovation?

Spoiler Alert: It’s Not Just about the Cake.

‘A common theme emerged when the Innovation Team at First United Methodist Church in Fort Worth, TX spent time interviewing teens and adults in their community: Teenagers felt that if they failed at anything (school, sports, extracurriculars, etc.), they were fundamentally a failure. IN response to this realization, the Innovation Team developed a prototype called Fail–>Safe Studios, and it became a place where teens were put in situations – like baking a chocolate cake without a recipe – where failure was a likely outcome.

This space celebrated failure and created low-stakes opportunities for teens and adults to fail alongside one another while prioritizing fun. As a result, participants of all ages experienced that they are indeed good enough, perhaps most especially when they fail.

Fail–>Safe Studios illustrates the power of a prototype in the minster innovation process. The ministry is actively transforming how young people and adults think about themselves and what it means to be worthy and beloved by God and others just as they are.

“Fail–>Safe is now a regular part of our rhythm of community for teenagers and adults, and has generated beautiful and terrible art, delicious and inedible snacks, and more,” said Kat Bair, FUMC’s director of youth ministries. “It has worked its way into our confirmation curriculum, Vacation Bible School, and the community at large as not just a beloved program, but as a way of being in all of our programs. It was originally an occasional one-off event for teenagers, and has now been a teen and parent event, a high school curriculum set, a social media series, and more.”

A Fail–>Safe Studio might be a Great Idea for any congregation. On the other hand – you may want to prototype all sorts of innovations before you invest fully in anything.

Innovation Lab has worked with hundreds of congregations around the US. Through that work they have learned that prototyping is essential for healthy, sustainable, ‘free to fail’ – and therefore ‘successful’ – congregational innovations. Read more about Creating a Culture of Prototyping from Andrew Mochrie, director of Theology Together and former Innovation Lab cohort participant, here.

We hope you’ll consider joining Minnesota’s first Innovative Ministries Cohort, coming this summer! Learn more by contacting Emily Meyer at The Ministry Lab:; and on our webpage, soon!!