Riverside Innovation Hub

The exploration of innovative place-based ministry with young adults where public life and faith intersect.

The riverside is a place of transformation. Jacob wrestled with God at the riverside and was blessed. Joshua built a memorial of 12 stones at the riverside to remind the Israelites how God brought them through the Jordan River from the wilderness into the promised land. Jesus came to the riverside to be baptized by John. New life is created at the riverside.

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a place of newness and blessing. It is a place to wrestle with God and with our call. It is a place to hear God call us beloved. It is a place to be built up for the work at hand. It is where we begin to explore the new ways we are called into ministry with God’s world. It is at the riverside where we become aware of challenges we face, opportunities that lie ahead, and new ways to move forward.

It is no secret that the gap between young adults and Christian congregations is widening. There are many factors in this dynamic reality. Certain characteristics of today’s young adults and their culture make them less inclined to seek out a congregation, or any institution. Certain characteristics of today’s congregations make them less appealing to young adults. We do know young adults are not rejecting faith or religion. We do know many are living out their faith in vibrant ways at innovative intersections such as:

  • faith and political activism
  • faith and the arts
  • faith and environmental stewardship
  • interfaith engagement

We do know congregations can make meaningful connections with young adults, and many others, at these intersections. We also know this will only happen through adaptive change rather than technical change. It will require new learning, risk, experimentation, failure, and tenacity. We are ready to step into this risk with congregations, leaders, young adults and other community partners to learn how to live and lead in this new reality together.

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a 5-year project designed to help congregations innovate new ways to make meaningful connections with young adults in the exploration of faith and vocation at the intersections of their faith and their public lives. It is a collaborative effort sponsored by Augsburg University’s Christensen Center for Vocation and supported by Lilly Endowment, Inc. This project will unfold in four phases.


From September 2017 through July 2018, an interdisciplinary research team of faculty from Augsburg will study ten local congregations, faith communities and other organizations effectively engaging young adults.

Please click here to find out more about how to nominate your congregation or a congregation that you know to participate in our research. The deadline for nominations is August 1, 2017.


From August 2018 through August 2019, a cohort of young adults will be recruited for a Fellowship Program through Augsburg’s CCV. These fellows will be trained to serve as coaches alongside a second set of approximately 15 partner congregations committed to innovating new ministry with young adults. During this time, these young adult leaders will coach partner congregations through a 9-month process of discerning innovative ministry with young adults in their contexts. These partner congregations will be invited to apply for innovation grants at the end of the discernment process.

Information on how to apply for the Young Adult Fellowship positions or to be a Partner Congregation during phase 2 will be available late fall 2017.


From September 2019 through August 2021, partner congregations will have 1-2 years to spend their grant money implementing new approaches to ministry with young adults and making any necessary adaptations along the way.


From September 2021 through July 2022, all participants in this collaborative five-year project will have the opportunity to evaluate their experiences and share their learnings. Augsburg will share what we have learned together through a series of publications, conferences, and workshops.