Innovator Learning Academy

The Innovator Learning Academy equips lay and ordained folks to nurture new Christian communities and other forms of innovative ministry in their unique contexts throughout the Northwestern Ohio Synod!

The 2022-2024 cohort will be our third cohort of innovators to walk this journey! Apply today!

The 2022-2024 Cohort is now accepting applications through October 31.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

-Matthew 28:18-20

What is the Innovator Learning Academy [ILA]?

Together we are imagining new little Christian communities led by people of faith that spring up in the neighborhood, emerging as a new form of church for our changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of those who are not yet part of at church. We are exploring models of discipleship that make sense for our communities beyond the walls of church buildings. Join us!


See what our innovators
are up to!

Nurturing New Communities: Hike And Seek

And just like that, Hike and Seek was born. This experiential form of witness to what God is up to in the natural world blossomed from their collective love of nature…”

Learn more about “Hide & Seek”

Nurturing New Communities: Beer Nerds

What could it look like to imagine your passions and hobbies as ways to connect with neighbors about faith questions?

Learn more about “Beer Nerds”

On the Way Retreats: Parishes are Innovating!

We love working together with parish leaders to design workshops to support church councils, executive committees, and small group leaders to dream new dreams and care more deeply for their whole community. What could innovation look like in your parish?

Click Here to view the Retreat Information.

Check out some of our early learning sessions!

These videos from the early days of the ILA provide a glimpse into many themes we discuss oftne. You may have heard some of us on synod staff talk about our enthusiasm for Rev. Dr. Michael Adam Beck. During his time at Wildwood UMC, he pastored his traditional parish while supporting the growth of small groups in the community known as “fresh expressions” of church.

In these videos, he shared his experiences and helped us imagine what it looks like to nurture new communities here in our own communities. Michael still walks with us on this journey, so you may see him at an event or one of the innovator sessions.

Saturday morning Innovator Session

Saturday morning Innovator Session presentation slides (PDF)

Virtual Learning Session Slides led by Rev. Dr. Michael Adam Beck (PDF)


What is Church Exercise

Listening Rule of Life

Listening Audit

Prayer Walking Guide

50-50 Planner Worksheet

FX Start Up Sheet