Leadership Lab

Leadership Lab is a gamified Christian Leadership experiment for high school students in the Great Plains Conference. High school students engage in a web of relationships, resourcing, and experiences that culminate in eligibility for a triennial trip to the Holy Land with other students, their mentors, and the key conference leaders. Eligibility is determined by completing the Leadership Lab curriculum.

Requirements for Leadership Lab

  • High school student
  • Active member in local United Methodist Church
  • Sponsored by a leader in their local church - Student must invite mentor to serve in this capacity prior to application
  • Completed the application process
  • Commitment to attending:
    • Annual Opening Retreat (first weekend in August; location TBD; planning for in-person, reserve the right to pivot to virtual if necessary)
    • Annual Conference Gathering (date and location TBD; typically end of May/early June)
    • Quarterly Regional Team meetings (dates and location TBD together with teammates)
    • Regular meetings with local mentor (dates and location TBD together with mentor)
  • Commitment to complete Leadership Lab curriculum

Holy Land Trip TBD. Projected Year: 2024 




What’s it like?

We know that growing in discipleship and leadership requires more than just sitting in meetings and talking about ministry – and this new program is designed with that in mind. Students will complete a series of “quests” each school year – quests that they get to choose.

During each quest, they will learn something, experience something, and then they will lead something – all with the help of their mentor that they get to choose!

What does “choose-your-own-adventure” even mean?

While there will be requirements to remain in Leadership Lab, most of the decisions rest on the participants. They will choose their mentor and which quests to complete when. Every student’s experience will be their own unique one, even as they engage in dynamic relationships across the conference with each other. Individuals choose the pace, the topic, the quests – everything!

What about CCYM?

Leadership Lab is the next iteration of Conference Council on Youth Ministry. All the beloved elements of CCYM are integrated into this program: relationship building, leadership opportunities for students, Youth Service Fund, key experiences in our connectional system, and more.


Holy Land Trip

When is it? And how much will it cost?

This is still being determined, but we can anticipate a 2024 or 2025 date. We will continue to provide updates as they are available.

Who is eligible to go?

Leadership Lab participants who have completed 10 Quests; their mentors; and conference leaders who have participated in Leadership Lab.

Is funding available?

The conference is applying for grants to help offset costs. Additionally, participants and their mentors will be encouraged to seek financial assistance through grants, fundraising, and church matching opportunities.

What if a participant can’t go? Does that mean they can’t be in Leadership Lab?

Of course not! Discipleship and leadership don’t hinge on traveling to the Holy Land, and we want to invest in young people’s discipleship and leadership development, regardless of their ability to travel abroad. The program itself will provide countless valuable opportunities and experiences!

What happens after the Holy Land Trip?

More quests! More leadership experiences! This program doesn’t end with a trip – it’s just one of the many opportunities.


What are the requirements for mentors?

Mentors must:

  • Be Safe Gatherings certified, follow all Safe Gatherings protocols, and pass a background check.
  • Complete mentor training provided by the conference.
  • Meet with their mentee 8 times per school year.
  • Complete an online progress report at the end of each semester.

*Though not required, mentors are highly encouraged to attend the opening retreat the first weekend in August. 

How will mentors be supported for success?

Mentors will have access to training modules, curriculum, and guided questions for their meetings with their mentees. They will also have access to conference leaders for troubleshooting, guidance, and any other needs. 

Are mentors eligible for the Holy Land Trip?

YES! (not required, though)