Our Mission and Vision
The Fellows Initiative is a network of Christian discipleship and leadership development programs for recent college graduates. Together, we seek to inspire and equip the rising generation of leaders for the marketplace, church, and society.
TFI was founded to train, encourage, and support churches that are interested in applying our proven model to their local context. TFI has grown to be a network of fellows programs unified in our desire to equip the rising generation of Christian leaders with a holistic understanding of faith that transforms culture. Through its best practices, regular training, conferences, coaching, on-going support, and other efforts TFI:
Serves the network of church-based fellows programs
Expands the network by enfolding new programs in new cities
Connects fellows, alumni, and staff
The first fellows program launched in 1994 in the Washington DC area, with other pioneer programs soon to follow in Pittsburgh, Memphis, and Charlottesville. The foundational ideas quickly turned into a unique and successful model of discipleship and leadership development for emerging leaders.
Once the early concept was shown to work well, the fellows program began to spread. As interest grew, so did the demand for training and resources. The early program directors could not run their local programs and manage the growing network at the same time. So, in 2006, The Fellows Initiative was formed as an independent nonprofit with the goal of training, encouraging, and supporting local program directors and helping to launch fellows programs in new churches cities.
Even though the first fellows program launched in 1994, TFI's conceptual roots go back to the 1950's when Francis Schaeffer created a center for Christian study in Switzerland called L'Abri. Schaeffer equipped hundreds of young people for lives of active Christian faith by emphasizing historical biblical teaching, intentional community, and meaningful engagement with culture. The modern fellows program builds on these wonderful traditions while emphasizing the importance of active involvement in the local church. For this reason, each TFI fellows program operates within and under the authority of one or more local churches.
Today, TFI is a thriving, growing, coast-to-coast network of leadership and vocational development programs. TFI equips hundreds of young leaders each year with a holistic understanding of faith in Christ that transforms culture.
Our Core Beliefs
The Fellows Initiative is a multi-denominational network that represents a wide range of traditions and styles. We are unified by a core belief in and love for Jesus Christ and his Church. We seek to honor and serve Him in all areas of life - at work, at church, at home, and in society. As a community, we share a high view of Scripture, which we consider to be God's good word for the world. Churches seeking to join the TFI network are required to affirm a set of historic Christian beliefs that reflect a deep and abiding trust in Jesus Christ and the truths of his Gospel.
What is a Fellows Program?
A Fellows Program is an intensely practical 9-10 month spiritual and vocational leadership program that prepares a recent graduate to live a seamless life of faith in Christ. The program includes a professional job in your field of interest (yes, we help you get a job!), graduate coursework and biblical studies, personalized mentoring, service in the church and city, and more. All of this takes place in a coeducational, cohort community.
Fellows programs are equipping emerging leaders to have a thoughtful impact in the world. Fellows discern how their story fits into God's story. They start their post-college years with a strong foundation for a cohesive life of faith in Christ — a full life that seamlessly weaves together career, church life, and personal life. Fellows have the opportunity to address some of life's most important questions: How do you think "Christianly" about work, culture, friendships and experiences?
TFI fellows programs are not just about reading and taking classes. They are balanced head + heart + hands programs that involve postgraduate training in the classroom, real work in real jobs, hands-on leadership and service experiences in the church and city, intentional community with a cohort of peers, and personal and individualized mentoring for each fellow.
TFI's unique approach has not only proven itself as an outstanding way for recent graduates to launch their careers. It can also be a key element of a comprehensive strategy to engage and retain young leaders in the local church.