Whether faith communities are currently engaged in meaningful ways with young adults or not, what we are looking for in our Innovation Ministry Partnership is evidence that faith communities sense a call into deeper ministry with young adults – a call rooted in hopefulness and not anxiety or wishfulness. Consider this list as you explore your own community’s capacity and willingness to partner with the Riverside Innovation Hub in innovative ways with young adults.
Selection Criteria for Innovative Ministry Partner Congregations
We think that “evidence” might include some of the following….
- Hopeful Honesty: Faith communities honest about the realities and challenges at play – both within the congregation and within the larger cultural contexts of the day. Leadership recognizes that the landscape of our communities and the ways we are called to be church in this time and place has shifted. In spite of the anxiety this current context creates, we are looking for congregational leadership that is making decisions and moving to action from the place of hopefulness.
- Spirit-filled Imagination: Faith communities that have imagination for ministry that is not simply more and bigger of the same. That have imagination for creative ways to cultivate life-giving relationships with young adults. That have imagination for something beyond hiring a new staff person or setting up a new program. That have imagination which leaves room for the Spirit to show up.
- Humble Openness: A culture open to a coaching relationship with a trained young adult through the Riverside Innovation Hub. The Innovation Coach will not be coming on board to take orders or share in the existing workload, but rather to coach faith communities through listening and discernment work in their community and with their neighbors. The Innovation Coach may potentially be younger than the faith community’s existing leadership and therefore present a twist on more common power dynamics. Faith communities will need to demonstrate an openness to learning in new ways with new people.
- Broad Congregational Buy-in: Faith communities will need to show that there is buy-in among the various leadership structures in their context – staff, councils, and other key leadership – to the vision and spirit of the Riverside Innovation Hub. The partnership lasts four years, but we hope this partnership will stir up something that outlives this four-year period. Long lasting transformation will require continued leadership and support from the congregation among all types of leaders and influencers.
- Eager Curiosity: Faith communities with a genuine curiosity about what God is up to in this current context at the intersection of young adults and faith communities. A curiosity and eagerness to learn new ways to do ministry and be church. A curiosity that seeks meaningful and messy insights rather than easy answers. A curiosity that could liberate faith communities to embrace how God might each, challenge, and transform them throughout this four-year experiment.
- Collaborative Spirit: Faith communities willing to share their success and failures with a larger network of leaders and communities so that we learn together. When we are collaborative and innovative, successes and failures are both equally valuable spaces for learning.
- Commitment to the project: Faith communities with the capacity and willingness to participate in every aspect of this project over its entire length, following through on the tasks and presence required to do this collaborative work well.
- Called to ministry with young adults: Faith communities who sense a deep call to engage with people in the 22-29-year-old age range. This would be meaningful engagement and not simply a desire to have 20-somethings showing up at church again. Do you love young adults and do you love all the reasons why they stay away from church?
- What will not be selection criteria?
- The size of your faith community.
- Your faith community’s denomination or lack thereof.
- How long you’ve been around as a faith community.
- Whether you have young adults involved currently or not.
- Your faith community’s budget.
- Your faith community’s location, with one caveat. Track 1 Partners will be limited to faith communities within a 30-minute drive of Minneapolis because we need sites to be relatively accessible for our Innovation Coaches. However, location is not a factor for Track 2 Partners or Track 3 Associate Faith Communities.