About the Formation Co-Op

The Formation Co-Op is an initiative of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network, in partnership with the ELCA, to explore new frameworks for youth ministry in order to root young people in a lifelong and transformative faith in Jesus. We believe this work is best done in a collaborative community of co-learners and co-creators, sharing with and learning from each other.

Each year a growing number of congregations are selected to be part of a co-hort. Each congregation is supported by a Guide, who accompanies the Congregation Team over the course of two years, as they listen, learn and experiment with new youth ministry practices in their congregations and communities.

Throughout the process the Formation Co-Op will share what Congregation Teams are learning in order to benefit the larger community. As we continue to expand, the resources and training will be available on this website for all leaders and congregations to learn and continue to create the Co-Op together.

The Co-Op Process

Our Strategy: Listening

At the heart of our work is deep listening: to each other, to youth, to our congregation, to our community. We draw from the emergent strategy work of adrienne maree brown to listen for what is emerging from those around us in order to build new youth ministry frameworks through small, adaptive changes based on relationships. 

Our Approach: Core Commitments

Because God has given us all we need to be faithful in this moment, in our work together we adopt postures of… 

  • Accompaniment: We are in this together 
  • Asset-based thinking and practices: By God’s grace, we have enough
  • Curious listening: We care about each other’s lives of faith
  • Bold Experimentation: We trust God to guide us to new ways of living faithfully
  • A diverse community of co-creators: We gratefully receive gifts of learning from others and generously share our experiences

Our Process: A Two Year Cycle

The two-year process cycles through 4 key elements:

Congregation Teams hold a series of listening sessions to gather and name 1) stories of youth ministry to identify their “why” for youth ministry; 2) current realities facing youth and congregations; 3) congregational assets; and 4) existing and potential congregational partnerships.

Congregation Teams learn from their context through the listening sessions and draw from existing research highlighting themes on agency, theological practices, role of parents, intergenerational relationships, and multiple pathways to consider new frameworks for their youth ministry that are suitable for their context.

Congregation Teams gather annually for the Co-Op Training in which they are guided through a design process to develop a ministry plan based on what they have learned and where they feel God is calling them. They return home to implement their new approaches to ministry, supported by their Guide through monthly online meetings.

Evaluate and Share:
As congregations experiment with new frameworks for youth ministry, they evaluate their progress, adjust as needed, and share what they learn with the wider community. 

Listen to a 3rdTuesday Conversation Podcast with Director, Catherine Anderson, talking about the project...


Formation Co-Op Links:

Formation Co-Op Home
About the Formation Co-Op
Formation Co-Op Applications
Formation Co-Op Resources and Trainings