Innovation Coach Opportunity

The Riverside Innovation Hub (RIH) at Augsburg University seeks to hire eight full-time Innovation Coaches for a 10 month period beginning August 2018 and concluding May 2019. Innovation Coach positions will be open to young adults (ages 22-29) who have a passion and curiosity to grow in the areas of spirituality, leadership, community, and intercultural competency.

Innovation Coaches will participate in training hosted by RIH that will equip them to guide two local Christian faith communities (selected to be Innovative Ministry Partners) through an accompanying and listening process in relationship with young adults in their unique contexts. This process will conclude with Innovation Coaches facilitating discernment work with their congregations to create an innovative ministry idea to be submitted for a sub-grant through RIH in spring 2019. Participating congregations will implement and adapt their innovative ministry ideas, with sub-grant funds, over the following two year period, after the Innovation Coach role has concluded.

In addition to working directly with local congregations discerning their call in ministry with young adults, Innovation Coaches will participate in intentional living communities together. We anticipate being able to post more details about this and other exciting opportunities available to Innovation Coaches in the coming weeks. You are invited to spread the word to young adults you know who might be excited about this opportunity.

The application process will open the end of January and be available on our resource page.

Stay tuned for more information!

Innovative Ministry Partnership Application Info Sessions

On January 15, 2018 the Riverside Innovation Hub will open up the application process for the Innovative Ministry Partnership to faith communities intersted in deepening their work and ministry with young adults in their context. To help interested congregations, we are offering two information sessions focusing on the application process itself in January. Our staff will walk through the application and have time for Q&A.

We hope you will join us!

MON. JANUARY 22 @ 1:30-3:00PM


TUES. JANUARY 23 @ 1:30-3:00PM


Register for Info Session


Discernment Questions for Faith Communities

Consider these questions an opportunity to engage your leadership, young adults and other key people in your community as you discern your faith community’s possible call into deeper ministry with young adults. Have some cups of coffee. Make time for a happy hour. Imagine and wonder where God is present in these questions and what that might mean for your faith community.


Describe your faith community’s capacity for risk-taking. What do you think your faith community is willing to risk or sacrifice in order to pursue a clear call from God?


How would you describe your congregation’s current relationship with young adults and attitudes about young adults?


Who in your faith community (staff and members) could be potential champions and leaders for a new effort to innovate ministry with young adults? Who would you want on your team to steward this partnership?


How are you equipped to support an additional person on-site during the coaching phase? Consider space availability, access to printing and communication systems within your congregation, culture of your staff and congregation.


What relationships do you have outside your faith community that could be an asset to innovating ministry with young adults?


Innovation by nature will involve success and failures and a willingness to take risks that may or may not produce the hoped-for outcomes. What do you imagine faithfulness to look like whether experiencing success or failure in this work with your faith community?


What do you sense God is already up to…

  • In your faith community?
  • In your community?
  • With young adults you know?


If you have the opportunity to talk (but mostly listen) with young adults consider asking them…

  • What gives you hope? What gives you anxiety?
  • What matters most to you?
  • What has or would draw you to be a part of a faith community? What has or would make you want to stay connected to a faith community?
  • What has or would make you not want to engage with a faith community? What do you think keeps your peers away?
  • How is God or faith influencing your life in the public places you live, work and play?

Innovative Ministry Partnership Application Criteria

Whether faith communties 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.

Innovative Ministry Partnership for Faith Communities

On Jan. 15, 2018 our Innovative Ministry Partnership Application will be made available for faith communities with a willingness and capacity to explore their call into deeper ministry with young adults. In order for this work to have the greatest impact, we have crafted several different pathways for interested faith communities to participate in the Innovative Ministry Partnership.

Consider which track best fits your faith community and check our resource page for application information after Jan. 15!

Innovation Ministry Partner Faith Communities – Track 1

  • Work with the Riverside Innovation Hub for four years from the summer of 2018 through the summer of 2022.
  • Year One (summer 2018 – summer 2019): Commit to working 15-20 hours a week with a Riverside Innovation Hub young adult Innovation Coach who will walk with your faith community through a year-long process of reimagining its ministry with young adults.
  • Submit a sub-grant proposal at the end of Year One to the Riverside Innovation Hub to receive $25,000-$30,000 for innovative approaches to ministry with young adults in your context over the following two years.
  • Years Two – Three (summer 2019 – summer 2021): Manage the funds granted to your faith community and implement your plan for engaging young adults in your context in new and innovative ways.
  • Year Four (summer 2021 – summer 2022): Work with the Riverside Innovation Hub to evaluate the three previous years of learning and creating in order to learn what worked and what did not. Faith communities will also work with the Riverside Innovation Hub to share collective findings through written projects and seminars.
  • Attend regular learning cohort meetings and trainings offered by the Riverside Innovation Hub throughout the four years of partnership with the Hub.
  • Track 1 faith communities need to be located within a 30 minute drive of Minneaoplis in order to be accessible to our Innovation Coaches.

Innovative Ministry Partner Faith Communities – Track 2

  • Identical to Track 1 with two main differences…
  • First: In Year One, faith communities will identify their own young adult Innovation Coach from their community to guide the faith community through the work of reimagining its ministry with young adults. The faith community’s Innovation Coach will participate in training at Augsburg during the weeks of August 6-24, 2018 with other Riverside Innovation Hub coaches, be a part of an Innovation Coach cohort, and invited to attend all workshops and training aimed at equipping Innovation Coaches in Year One.
  • Second: No funding will be available to Track 2 faith communities. However, they will participate in all other aspects of the partnership with Track 1 partners. They will be included in all training & learning cohorts throughout the partnership, create their own ministry proposal in Year One, implement and adapt their ministry in Years Two and Three, and participate in evaluating the learnings in Year Four.
  • Faith communities may choose to be considered for Track 2 on their own because they believe they have the resources internally to support the work or they may be located more than 30 minutes from the Twin Cities. The Riverside Innovation Hub may choose to invite faith communities who apply to be Track 1 Partners to consider Track 2 based on the fact that there are a limited number of spots available for Track 1.

Innovative Ministry Associate Faith Communities – Track 3

  • Some faith communities may share a deep passion and curiosity for this work but not currently be in the position to dedicate the needed resources of time, leadership, and potentially funding to commit to a four-year partnership with the Riverside Innovation Hub. An Associate Faith Community is committed to following the project, eager to be a part of the learning the flows from it, and willing to commit to being a regular participant in the learning opportunities offered through the Riverside Innovation Hub.
  • Associate Faith Communities would commit to attending Hub Seminars and workshops as the project unfolds and have opportunities to learn alongside the efforts taking shape at Partner Congregations.


The application process for congregations will open January 15, 2018 and be available on our resource page at that time. Application deadline is April 15, 2018. Selected faith communities would be notified by May 15, 2018 and have until May 31 to accept the offer.  All applicants will complete the same application, however, Track 3 applicants will be allowed to skip certain portions.



Introducing Terrance Kwame-Ross

During our research phase of the Riverside Innovation Hub, we are collaborating across disciplines with a team of Augsburg faculty in our work learning alongside congregations already engaged in meaningful ministry with young adults. Our team brings together faculty with backgrounds in education, psychology, social work, political science, communications, sociology, religion and gender, sexuality and women’s studies.

Meet one of our research team members, Terrance Kwame-Ross…

Terrance Kwame-Ross headshot
Terrance Kwame-Ross, PhD                           Associate Professor of Education

I am currently a full-time Associate Professor in the Education Department at Augsburg University.  I’m also a Faculty Associate in the Youth Development Leadership (YDL) Graduate Program in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota.  My research focus has been on the nature of learning and development throughout the life-span across different cultural, political, social, and geographic settings and areas.  My study and studies focus on youth and young adults, teachers, and youth workers in formal, non-formal, and informal settings.  The Riverside Innovation Hub project allow me to further explore these ideas inside of a spiritual and religious context.  It also, affords me an opportunity to have a dialogue with myself around faith and learning.  My unique perspective about the nature of learning and development can contribute to the overall study in the sense that in all that humans do, sometime without knowing it, is learn.  However, all learning isn’t positive learning.  In short, I look forward to broadening my own and others’ perspectives about learning and growing inside of the church, congregation, and “the body of God.”

Introducing Kristina Fruge

headshot of Kristina Fruge
Kristina Fruge                                         Riverside Innovation Hub Program Manager

Prior to joining Augsburg’s Riverside Innovation Hub, I spent 15 years working and serving as a social worker, youth director, and community networker in the places where congregations and their greater communities intersect. Several years ago when my oldest was 5, I asked him if he knew what my job was. “Yeah Mom, you work for love. That’s what the church does.”

To have anyone – let alone a 5 year old! – name the calling they see in you is a beautiful and transformative thing. Needless to say, his words continue to hold a central place in my heart and affirm my belief in the importance of the work I get to be a part of with the Riverside Innovation Hub. This work allows us to accompany both young adults and congregations discerning what working for love looks like in their callings, contexts and relationships.

At a time when uncertainties, fears and brokenness dominate the headlines, our communities and even our own lives, working for love is a much needed response. Following this call and discerning what this love must look like in the communities and contexts where we live, serve, work, worship and play is not intended to be done alone. WE NEED EACH OTHER.

We listen better together.

We learn better together.

We problem solve better together.

We respond better together.

We LOVE better together.

I have heard enough stories that lead me to believe that young adults GET this and WANT this and some in fact are DOING this in impactful ways and surprising places. I am grateful to be a part of an effort that invites their voices, experiences and questions into the conversation with a Church that is called to work for love in new and often challenging times and places.

The Spirit is at work. I pray we are open to the relationships, places and stories that allow us to join in what God is already most certainly up to – working for love in our broken and beautiful world.

The Research Begins!

Our research began on Sunday, October 22, 2017. We are conducting site visits at 12 different congregations across the Twin Cities who have been identified as communities of faith engaged in effective ministry with young adults. We are seeking to learn from them by observing their ministry with young adults, conducting focus groups with their active young adults, interviewing key leaders, and surveying their entire congregations. We will conduct these site visits throughout the fall and winter. We will spend the winter and spring analyzing these visits and distilling our findings down into key components of effective ministry with young adults. The visits, interviews, and analysis will be completed by an interdisciplinary research team of eight faculty members from Augsburg University including . . .

Adriane Brown, Assistant Professor and Director of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

James A. Vela-McConnell, Professor of Sociology

Jeremy Myers, Associate Professor of Religion

Joseph Underhill, Associate Professor of Political Science

Kristen Chamberlain, Associate Professor & Chair of Communication Studies

Nishesh Chalise, Assistant Professor of Social Work

Stacy R. Freiheit, Associate Professor of Psychology

Terrance Kwame-Ross, Associate Professor of Education

Come and meet us!

Augsburg University will host two Meet and Greet events on campus this fall for local congregations and others interested in learning more about the Riverside Innovation Hub, Augsburg’s newest initiative in relationship with congregations discerning their call to ministry with young adults.

  • Meet the Riverside Innovation Hub team
  • Learn more about the scope of this 5-year project and ways to get involved
  • Consider applying for our Innovative Ministry Partnership
  • Share your curiosities about ministry with young adults
  • Connect with local congregations and leaders

We are hosting an evening event on Nov. 13 and a morning event on Nov. 16.  Information at each event will be the same. Light refreshments and beverages will be served. Those attending on Nov. 16 are also invited to stay for chapel from 11:30-11:50PM. Kristina Fruge, Program Manager for the Riverside Innovation Hub, will be preaching.

We hope you will join us!


MON. NOVEMBER 13 @ 7:00-8:30PM

Augsburg University, Oren Gateway, Room 100


THURS. NOVEMBER 16 @ 9:45-11:15AM

Augsburg University, Christensen Center, The Augsburg Room




Augsburg University is located at 2211 Riverside Ave. in Minneapolis, MN on the north side of Hwy 94.

We are able to provide a limited number of parking permits on campus for each November event. The first 30 people who register for each date will receive parking permit via email the week before. City street parking is available around campus on a first come, first serve basis. Please pay attention to parking signs as they are strictly enforced!

More detailed directions and a link to a campus map, click here. 

Opportunities for Congregations

Please join us in this endeavor! Here are some ways you can become involved in the work of the Riverside Innovation Hub at varying levels of commitment.

Attend our events

  • Hub Seminars – Our annual Hub Seminars will be a place to share ideas, and learn from one another as we support each other in our ministry with young adults. These seminars will feature keynote speakers and breakout sessions with lots of time for networking and dreaming. Save the date for March 12, 2018 when Augsburg hosts our first Learning Hub, focusing on key learnings from our research with faith communities and young adults. 
  • Pop-up Conversations – Our Pop-up Conversations at coffee shops and brew pubs around the Twin Cities will be an opportunity to have less formal conversation around one specific aspect of faith and ministry with young adults.

Apply to be an Innovative Ministry Partner or Associate Faith Community

Augsburg University’s Riverside Innovation Hub is reaching out to faith communities in and near the Twin Cities to create four-year innovative partnerships around ministry with young adults through the Innovative Ministry Partnership. On January 15, 2018 the application process will open for faith communities interested in applying to partner and learn with us over the next four years through three different tracks for participation.

The deadline for submitting applications is April 15, 2018.

Information sessions for the application will be offered on Jan. 22 at St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church in St. Paul and Jan. 23 at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Edina. RSVP here.


Application Application Guide Printable Application Three Tracks for Participation


Stay Connected

To stay up to date on when our application process opens and informed about other opportunities with the Riverside Innovation Hub, join our mailing list and follow our project online and with social media. Or reach out for a cup of coffee or a phone call. We love to connect and learn from the questions and insights of colleagues and friends!