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Identifying Your Key Theological Claims

Written by Jeremy Myers

When teaching college students how to think theologically, I often hear them say, “I don’t know if I can think theologically because I’m not really even sure what my key beliefs are.” What follows is a process I have used many times when helping high school students, college students, and adults become more aware of the key theological claims that shape how they understand and interpret life. You can go through this process on your own, with a partner, or with a group. If doing with others, find moments when you can share what you are writing with one another and offer feedback to each other. 


Candle on a table in the sun with a group of people and a small table blurred out in the background. Brainstorming Your Core Beliefs

  1. Using index cards, post-its, or small slips of paper, write down all the biblical stories and lessons that are important to you. Write one per piece of paper. Leave room on each piece of paper to add more later.
  2. Continue to use index cards, post-its, or slips of paper and now write all the things you have been taught about God that are most important to you – attributes of God, things God does, things God doesn’t do, how God does things, why God does things, etc. Again, write only one on each piece of paper and leave room on each piece for more writing later.
  3. On each piece of paper write a brief description of why that particular biblical story, biblical lesson, or belief about God is important to you.

Continue reading “Identifying Your Key Theological Claims”

Faith in Action: Reflecting God’s Relational Essence

A round table of a team during our last learning community looking down at their prayer walk. "I have been trying to figure out this whole time what our project would be at the end of this, but I’m realizing…Relationships are The Project... Alice in our RIH Learning Community"In between our learning events, our facilitators Geoffrey and Brenna spend time with the congregations in cohorts. We asked Brenna and Geoffrey to reflect what they are hearing and experiencing with their learning cohorts.

Brenna’s Reflection

As we journey together through our season of accompaniment, our teams are learning a lot about their neighbors and what it means to be a public church. In our March cohort meeting we heard stories of engaging with schools, local police, members in our congregations, and local pastors from other churches. Our teams have begun to explore their neighborhoods on prayer walks and they’ve been meeting in local coffee shops and restaurants to listen and learn. They’ve engaged in public forums and local events and even attended Iftar dinners with their Muslim neighbors. Their curiosity and love for their neighbors is growing and it culminated in an exciting moment at our March cohort meeting where one of our team members interrupted the sharing time with an epiphany, “I have been trying to figure out this whole time what out project would be at the end of this, but I’m realizing…Relationships Are The Project”. They’re starting to catch it, knowing and loving your neighbor is the whole goal.

Geoffrey’s Reflection

Continue reading “Faith in Action: Reflecting God’s Relational Essence”

We Invite YOU to join us on the Riverside Collaborative!

Written by Ellen Weber

Screenshot of google maps image of Ellen's street growing up with houses on each side of the road.
A google map screenshot of Ellen’s street growing up.

Growing up in my Highland Park neighborhood in Saint Paul, we knew our neighbors. We knew which grass to not ride our bike on, which house had the best candy, which yard had the best hide & seek spots. We knew who to go to if we wanted to learn how to knit, which driveway we could build our chalk city in, and who gave out the best Halloween candy (It was the nuns. They loved to give out full-sized candy bars.) It was a neighborhood where I felt alive, nourished, cared for and connected. Us kids, resourced each other. We welcomed each other with open arms and ran up and down the block until the street lights came on and we had to head home.  Continue reading “We Invite YOU to join us on the Riverside Collaborative!”

One to Ones: Overcoming Barriers

Written by Geoffrey Gill

We wall ourselves to protect ourselves. Let’s take a look at a few things that have held me mentally and physically back from really connecting to others and being in community.

These Barriers or walls are things that keep me(us) from experiencing another person’s heart, soul, mind, and strength.

*The Heart (passions, hurts, motivations, dreams), 

*Soul ( personality, how they think, communicate, problem solve), 

*Mind (what they believe, worldview, values, sense of self, sense of humor, what they find sacred

*Strength (how they help, skills they bring to the table, the unique beauty they add to the world)


Chain link fence with cars on the highway in the backgroundKey Barriers to One to Ones:

When we do scary and uncomfortable things, our bodies and emotions may react in order to protect ourselves from what our bodies perceive as danger. 

We do this in many ways, here are some examples: 

  • Allowing nervousness or fear of rejection to prevent you from engaging with others can limit opportunities to form meaningful relationships. 
  • Taking the power of someone’s opinion out of the equation
  • Closed-Off Attitude: Not showing genuine interest or curiosity about others can create a barrier to forming deep connections.
  • Poor Nonverbal Engagement: Lack of eye contact and closed body language can signal disinterest, hindering the development of trust and rapport. (80%+ communication)
  • Negative Mindset: Approaching interactions with negativity or skepticism can make conversations strained and uninviting. **Being honest about something that was wrong- and acknowledging it. 
  • Anxiety and self protective responses that protect us from others (If I keep it cool then people won’t know what I really have going on and they cant use it against me)
  • Superficial Sympathy: Focusing only on surface-level sympathy instead of striving for deeper empathy and understanding can lead to shallow connections.
  • Ignoring Personal Boundaries: Pushing too hard for personal information or not respecting someone’s comfort zone can damage trust and discourage further interaction.
  • Overlooking Small Achievements: Not recognizing the importance of small steps in relationship building can lead to missed opportunities for growth and connection.
  • Unprepared Conversations: Entering into interactions without any thought or preparation can result in unproductive and awkward exchanges.
  • Self-Centered Approach: Focusing solely on what you can get out of a relationship, instead of also considering what you can contribute, can create imbalance and hinder genuine connection.
  • Lack of Presence: Being distracted or not fully engaged in conversations can make others feel undervalued and disrespected.

Continue reading “One to Ones: Overcoming Barriers”

Accompaniment – Listening Posts

The Riverside Innovation Hub is a learning community made of local congregations who gather together to learn how to be and become public church in their neighborhood contexts. We convene congregations over two years together, shaped by learning and practicing the artforms of the Public Church Framework in each congregation’s unique context.

Accompaniment is the first artform of the Public Church Framework. It is the movement out into the neighborhood to hear the neighbors’ stories. In this movement, we learn to engage and listen to the neighbor for the neighbor’s sake. We’ve simplified and categorized accompaniment into four different practices that help us hear our neighbors’ stories. This blog post dives into the third layer accompaniment, engaging listening posts. 

You can also read more about the other three layers – Understanding Demographic Data and Prayer Walks in the Neighborhood


Listening Posts

Written by Kristina Fruge

Listening posts might just be my favorite element of accompaniment. As someone who is an introvert at heart, but who also prefers to spend the energy I do have on relationships, listening posts offer a soft landing for accompaniment to begin. Listening posts provide an invitation to be fully present and curious about new surroundings while also creating the potential of connections with neighbors in big and small ways. 

A listening post is the term we use to describe the locations that people naturally convene or gather in a neighborhood. This might include the local coffee shop, the ball fields during the summer, a local YMCA, neighborhood association meetings, the local community garden, the town grocery store, the dog park, or even a neighborhood gas station. Your particular context likely has other types of listening posts not on this list, but the common thread is that they function as a sort of hub for people who live, work, worship, pass through or play in that neighborhood to gather and connect. AND, they are great places for listening. Listening posts blend together opportunities for noticing desolation and consolation, as we do in the prayer walks, but also can open doors for one-to-one conversations with neighbors. 

Here is some advice to help you explore the listening posts in your neighborhood. Here is a pdf version of the listening post information that you can print out to share! 

Continue reading “Accompaniment – Listening Posts”

Accompaniment Event Reflection

Written by facilitators Brenna and Geoffrey

In late January we hosted our learning event focused on the Artform of Accompaniment. Brenna and Geoffrey reflect below on lessons and learnings from that event. 

Trust the Process: A Journey of Connection and Transformation

This past January, a gathering took place at Augsburg University, marking the beginning of an extraordinary journey for our congregations. We embarked on a path to explore and embody the art of accompaniment, a journey aimed at not just knowing about the neighbor, actually knowing the neighbor, and unraveling a new way of being church in the world.

The Essence of Accompaniment

Accompaniment, the first of four art forms we dive into, challenges us to not just know about our neighbors but to actually really know them—to see their essence. This deep understanding is fundamental, setting the stage for the upcoming art forms of interpretation, discernment, and proclamation. Our learning event was more than an educational endeavor; it was an invitation to transform how we interact and perceive the people around us. Continue reading “Accompaniment Event Reflection”

Introducing our new Program Director for The Confluence: Gretchen Roeck!

Headshot of Gretchen in front of a colorful backgroundGretchen Roeck is passionate about inviting youth to engage, critically examine and discern their gifts and call in the world. She loves empowering youth and young adults to be leaders in their own lives and communities. She dreams of building communities of people who are fully alive, connected and invested in one another’s flourishing. 

Gretchen joined the Christensen Center for Vocation team in January 2024 as the Program Director for The Confluence. The Confluence is CCV’s summer institute for high school students, offering youth an opportunity to engage in vocational discernment by exploring the ways their own story merges with God’s story and the world’s story. Gretchen is excited to be a part of the CCV team and their work to inspire and equip people of faith to creatively orient their lives and work around Jesus’ call to be neighbor. 

In addition to her work with The Confluence, Gretchen is a Priest in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota. She leads Children’s Ministry at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in St. Paul, and is the chaplain at Circle of the Beloved, an intentional living community for young adults in North Minneapolis. Gretchen spent the last five years serving as the Priest and Internship Director at the University Episcopal Community, a campus ministry for young adults across the Twin Cities. Her ministry has been focused on children, youth and young adults –inviting them into a relationship with God, fostering their personal growth, walking alongside them and guiding young people in their spiritual and vocational journeys. She is committed to building and sustaining safe, inclusive and welcoming communities that lead towards health and wholeness for individuals and their broader communities. 

Creating safe, supportive and loving spaces extends into Gretchen’s personal life. She is the mother of two fun and creative boys, Elliott and Abraham, ages 10 and 6. Together they share a home in Minneapolis with Brigid the dog, and George and Molly, the cats.

A Much Needed Reminder

Shared by Ellen Weber

At a recent vocation chapel, our speaker shared this blessing as an opening reading. It was lovely and a much needed reminder. 

May we continue to show up true to who we are. 

May we remember that the small ordinary moments are worth blessing. 

That the small things that you do every day matter. 

That we each are worthy of love and no resolution will make us more worthy. 

May it inspire us to continue to work together towards justice, not to earn worthiness, but because we understand that we are in this life together. That we are called by our faith to show up as neighbor with an open heart and open arms reminding those that they matter and demanding that the world see it too. 

A New Year’s Blessing for realists by Nadia Bolz-Weber. 

As you enter this new year, as you pack away the Christmas decorations and get out your stretchy pants, Continue reading “A Much Needed Reminder”

Neighbor, Beloved Child of God, You Matter

Written by Kristina Frugé 

Wrapping up a season of orientation 

As we wrap up the calendar year of 2023, our RIH learning community is concluding its first season of work – the season of orientation. These first few months of gathering, learning and connecting have been saturated with lots of new ideas, invitations and challenges. I may have heard one or two folks describe this season feeling as though we’ve been drinking from a fire hydrant – a fair way to describe it. However, our intention has been to zoom out in this season and look at the journey ahead from the 30,000 foot perspective. We have been aiming to offer an overview of a new map of sorts.  We believe this map will help our learning community of folks explore God’s call to them in this present moment of our changing world. 

Kristina staring out to the trees and land below from a mountain.For many of us in congregations, we’ve been working off of older tried and true maps to help us get our bearings and shape our ministries. Those maps may have been more reliable in previous times. However, the landscape of the world we live in and its challenges has shifted significantly in recent decades. These shifts have only intensified in recent years…the global health crisis of Covid 19, a racial uprising in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, increased economic insecurities, a growing mental health crisis, increasing impacts of our global climate crisis, war and violence, just to name a few.  The list of hurts, heartaches and fears in the world and in our own lives is overwhelming. The church has been deeply impacted by this increasingly unpredictable landscape. But also,  we are a people rooted in a story that is rooted in love and whose fruits are intended to bring healing, nourishment and wholeness to God’s creation. This means that while the church attends to its own struggles, it is simultaneously holding a particular call to help respond to the bad news being generated daily in our communities and around the globe. 

We need new maps. And we need to cultivate different orienteering skills that help us show up in the world looking for and aligned with God’s vision for flourishing and mending in our places. Our season of orientation has attempted to offer some insights on these new maps to inform the journey we intend to pursue together, each in our unique corners of this map…on the ground, from within our congregations’ local neighborhoods.  Continue reading “Neighbor, Beloved Child of God, You Matter”

Advent Vespers Devotional by Jeremy Myers

Monday, December 4th “All Who Love and Serve Your City,” v. 1-3

All who love and serve your city, all who bear its daily stress, all who cry for peace and justice, all who curse and all who bless,

In your day of loss and sorrow, in your day of helpless strife, honor, peace, and love retreating, seek the Lord, who is your life.

Risen One, shall yet the city be the city of despair? Come today, our judge, our glory. Be its name “The Lord is there!”– Text: Erik Routley

Those who love and serve their city know their city. How well do you know your city, or the area in which you live your life? This might not be an actual city. Maybe it’s a neighborhood, or a town, or an apartment complex. Do you love it? Do you bear its daily stress? Do you cry for peace and justices in its streets and hallways? Do you find yourself both cursing and blessing this community where you and so many others live their lives? I imagine the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “yes!” Our neighborhoods are the places where we make our first friends, where we have our first kiss, where we learn, and play, and fight. Our neighborhoods are where we fall in love, raise our families, share meals, and watch each other’s backs. There are gardens in our neighborhoods. There are bones in our neighborhoods. There is turmoil in our neighborhoods. There are peacemakers in our neighborhoods. Do you love and serve your city? Do you know your city? Walk your city today, or take a ride through it, with the words of this hymn in your ears. Keep your eyes wide open because you learn that the Lord is there! Right there in the city you call home.