It is no secret that the gap between young adults and Christian congregations is widening. The good news, though, is that young people are not rejecting faith or religion; many are living out their faith through political activism, the arts, environmental stewardship, and interfaith engagement—places where public life and faith intersect.
Bridging this gap will require congregations to adapt and innovate. To support this adaptive work, Augsburg’s Bernhard Christensen Center for Vocation has launched a five-year project, called the Riverside Innovation Hub, with $1.5 million in funding from Lilly Endowment, Inc.
In its first year, the Riverside Innovation Hub will work with an interdisciplinary research team of Augsburg faculty to study 12 local congregations that are effectively engaging young adults in their communities. Using the lessons learned from that research, the program will recruit and train a cohort of youth to serve as coaches, working alongside approximately 15 partner congregations committed to new ministry with young adults.
“Partner congregations can then apply for two-year innovation grants to implement their programs in 2019 to 2021,” said Kristina Frugé, program manager for the Riverside Innovation Hub. At the end of that experience, all program participants will share their key learnings. Augsburg will publish the results and share the outcomes and insights through conferences and workshops.
“Vocation is at the center of this project,” Frugé said. “For congregations, it’s about discerning their call in relationship with their young adult neighbors. For young adults, it’s about a connection with a Christian community who can accompany them in exploring how faith and public life intersect in ways that matter most to them.”
[Top Image]: The Rev. Mike Rusert [center] and members of Intertwine NE meet on a Sunday morning to plan a December 10 launch event designed as an inclusive experience for young adults interested in being part of an intentional spiritual community.