“As time went on, I increasingly found myself longing for a new youth ministry experiment, one that was truly different. I felt a growing sense that if I wasn’t willing to risk failure by piloting something new for the sake of Christ, then I needed to hang it up,” writes veteran youth worker Matt Overton. Part memoir, part ministry how-to, and part call to innovative action, Ministry and Marketplace chronicles Matt’s journey into youth ministry as social enterprise. That first foray into a new way of doing things—via a landscaping company that employs teenagers—has since evolved into The Columbia Future Forge, a nonprofit that includes a full-scale mentoring program. The Forge does something youth ministries, though well-intentioned, often don’t: meet the practical, day-to-day needs of teens, just as much as their spiritual ones. The bonus is that the social enterprise model is financially sustainable, in a time when church-sourced youth ministry funds are drying up.
Not all youth workers will be ready to dive into social enterprise, but all readers can learn from the lessons Matt imparts through stories of his own experiments, successes, and bumps along the way, and will find encouragement to explore new possibilities—all in the faith that following God’s call will transform the lives of the teens in their communities.
Meet the Author
Matt Overton has been doing youth ministry for two decades, starting as a youth director at the age of nineteen on the Central Coast of California. Matt is ordained in the Presbyterian church and holds an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary. He works full time in youth ministry in Vancouver, Washington, serves as the executive director of The Columbia Future Forge, and is the owner of Youth Ministry Innovators. He occasionally writes online and consults with other churches, helping them to launch redemptive enterprises in their own contexts. Entrepreneurship is Matt’s main hobby, though he has also been known to run and backpack from time to time.