• The Fellows Initiative

A Fellows Perspective: What Do Fellows Learn

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

by Annie Monson

Is there a spirituality of learning that grows out of the gospel of the kingdom? If the Christian vision of life and the world is true, what ought learning to be like? - Steve Garber, The Fabric of Faithfulness

Fellows learn a lot. Lessons seep in from every area of the program, far beyond just the classroom. And this learning is always purposeful: that it may not just stay in our heads but be lived into practice. But because fellows learn so much, I cannot tell you everything here. So my purpose now is to share some ways the fellows program taught, trained, and shaped me.

For me, the classes were like ligaments and tendons in the body: the bones of my faith were set long ago when I became a Christian, but theological learning connected those bones, giving them strength and structure and connecting them to muscles that now have a strong place to grow.

There are common themes among all fellows program in the TFI network, but each program features its own specific set of courses. Fellows are trained in areas of biblical literacy and systematic theology, culture and worldview, vocational discernment, servant leadership, and personal identity and relationships.

Biblical Literacy & Systematic Theology

Through a cover-to-cover review of the Bible, fellows learn the overarching metanarrative of Scripture: the path of the world from Creation to Fall to Redemption to Restoration. This metanarrative is a cohesive story with a purpose, not a random compilation of recorded incidents in ancient times. Fellows set off to learn about the mission of God in the world (the missio Dei) and our place within it. We learn that theology should never be abstract; all theological learning should be intentioned for heart change and constant reorientation to God.

This kind of grand story provides us with an understanding of the whole world and our own place within it. It’s a big story that encompasses and explains all the smaller stories of our lives - Bartholomew, Gohen, The True Story of the Whole World

Culture & Worldview

How do we know the world and the darkness in it, and still love it? Fellows spend a year sitting at the intersection of worldview and the world, discussing how God calls Christians to live here. This coursework encouraged me towards a faith that asks big questions, because the pursuit of big questions takes us on journeys that transform us and bring us closer to the heart of God.

How do we become cultivators of God’s created order? How do we speak truth in a language that the world can understand? How as Christians, can we engage with our culture in a way that promotes truth, beauty, and the common good? How can we break down the barriers we've set between what we've deemed sacred versus secular, and see every part of our lives as a significant space for God to transform and use as ministry? Through pursuing these kinds of questions, we find that we are “integral to the missio Dei, not incidental” (Steve Garber, Visions of Vocation).

Vocational Discernment & Leadership

This is the reason so many college graduates find themselves in a fellows program. Fellows learn to see “vocation” as the bigger word, and “job” as the smaller. By expanding our understanding of vocation, that it is the call of God on every part of our lives and pairing that with a deep dive into our personal gifts and interests, fellows start to hone in on how we can be used for God’s kingdom work wherever we work or live or play.

Bono says, “I'm a musician. I write songs. I just hope when the day is done I've been able to tear a little corner off of the darkness.” Fellows learn to see their vocation in such a way. Every part of the world matters to God, and he cares deeply about our work, whether we’re a musician, a project manager, a cashier, or a pastor.