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  • Writer's pictureThe Fellows Initiative

Why Should You Join a Fellows Program?

Updated: Feb 7, 2019

by Evan Norfleet

As a college senior, contemplating post-graduation plans can feel exciting and overwhelming.  Numerous decisions are at play, from pursuing full-time employment to applying to graduate schools, among other opportunities.  

To add to the complexity of choices, there does not always seem to be a clear decision, especially given cultural pressures and expectations from peers or family.

Simply put, we are eager to start well. But what’s the best way to do that?

Weighing options after college.

Faced with these circumstances, I vividly remember weighing the options and realizing that buried beneath the desire to begin my professional career was an even stronger desire to build a foundation of Christian community rooted in a rich understanding of how to practically apply the gospel to every facet of my life.  

Recognizing that God has called us to “present (ourselves) as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1)  in every facet of our existence, the need for an endeavor that would strengthen a sense of calling to lead and serve others at home, the workplace, the church, and the world at large became crucial. Suddenly, spending the first year after college as a Fellow made a great deal of sense.

Luke Farley, a current Trinity Fellow and graduate of Washington and Lee University, wrestled in a similar way with his post-college plans.

The Fellows Initiative Network of Christian Leadership Development Programs
Luke Farley, back row center, Trinity Fellow and graduate of Washington and Lee University

“Upon graduating from college, I was eager to discern how I could best steward my gifts and abilities for the sake of God’s kingdom,” Luke says. “The Fellows Program has helped me to see everything in light of God’s greater vision for the earth and his people. Because of this, I have been formed spiritually and professionally--grown in love for Christ, and gained valuable experience in the workplace.”

Seamless immersion into a church community.

Among the many reasons to join a Fellows program, the centrality of the church and its community makes the experience especially rich:  

  • Just as Fellows are eager to engage in the life of the church, so too do church members intentionally engage with the Fellows to build relationships, help them serve the ministries of the church, and actively look for high caliber jobs or graduate school opportunities after the program.  

  • Fellows also have the opportunity to grow in their understanding of God’s word under the teaching of church and seminary staff.  

  • The program intentionally links Fellows to mentors and host families that model Christ-like love and hospitality.  

  • The Fellows Program also provides a robust curriculum of leadership and vocational discernment tools that allow Fellows to explore their calling, even as they serve in the workplace and community.

With the lure of post-graduate work, finding a meaningful community, joining a church, serving the local community and beyond, connecting with men and women who can serve as mentors, and building strong relationships in a new city can easily become a lower priority than career advancement.

The Fellows Initiative Network of Christian Leadership Development Programs
Hayes Thielman, front row center, Raleigh Fellows alumnus and graduate of Wheaton College

“I remember talking to one of my fellow seniors about why I was going to do the Fellows Program the following year,” recalls Raleigh Fellow and Wheaton College graduate Hayes Thielman. “Instead of joining the Program, my friend, like many in college, took a high-paying, career-building job. A year later, he not only quit but moved to a different city.” The reason? “This was, unfortunately, due to a lack of community in his life,” Hayes says.

“As recent college graduates, it can be easy to fall into the lure of financial stability and building a career – important items indeed. However, how much more important is it to have a strong community of believers from you can go out and serve the world?”

Indeed, Fellows programs are especially appealing because they are experiential, not just theoretical.  You work in an entry level capacity as you receive top notch teaching and instruction from program leaders and church staff.  What’s more, the professional career you continue after Fellows will be enriched by intentional involvement in the church, and guidance and counsel from mentors--all under the influence of the gospel and God’s redemptive work in our world.


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