Start a Fellows Program
Multigenerational Discipleship in Your Church
Engage the Emerging Generation of Leaders
The statistics are unsettling: Young adults are leaving the church in record numbers. Young Christians are often disillusioned with the local church, leaving them torn between the biblical call to be part of a church body and the world's ideals. In addition, recent graduates are struggling with the transition to post-college life. It is a transition that can be marked by loneliness, doubt, and anxiety.
There is a wonderful opportunity for pastors and lay leaders to address these issues - by launching a TFI fellows program in your church! For three decades, fellows programs have proven to be an incredible way to help young leaders find their place in the church and settle into a Christ-centered pattern of life.
Keep reading to learn how a fellows program might just be what your church has been looking for...
What is a Fellows Program?
A TFI fellows program is a practical, 9-10 month discipleship and leadership development program that prepares a recent graduate to live a seamless life of faith in Christ. The program includes a professional job in their field of interest, 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 grounded in the local church community.
Dozens of churches across the country are applying TFI's unique approach to equipping and inspiring recent graduates in their walk of faith. Our approach involves helping these emerging leaders to successfully launch their post-college careers, establish Christian community in a new church and city, and form the habits of growth and service that contribute to flourishing.
Fellows programs equip emerging leaders to have a thoughtful impact in the world. Through the various elements of the program, fellows discern how their story fits into God's story and confront some of life's most important questions: How do you think "Christianly" about work, culture, friendships, doubt, and the other real experiences of life?
Although coursework is involved, TFI fellows programs are not just about reading and listening to lectures. They are designed to be balanced head + heart + hands programs that include 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 personalized mentoring for each fellow.
The Core Elements of a Fellows Program
Every fellows program in the TFI network is unique, contextualized to the specific situation of the city and churches involved. The TFI model allows a lot of flexibility, while building on a shared vision, a unifying statement of faith, and core set of program elements.
Work - Fellows grow as professionals by spending 3-4 days per week working in a paid job in their field of vocational interest.
Service - Fellows cultivate healthy rhythms and habits by consistently serving in the church and city.
Learning - Fellows develop a spiritual foundation by taking graduate level leadership and theology courses.
Worship - Fellows explore how to be more than just a consumer of church by connecting deeply with a local church body.
Community - Fellows for intentional relationships with peers and mentors to create a model of post-college Christian community.
Benefits for Your Church
There are four main benefits of a fellows program for the local church. The first is that by running a fellows program, your church will be engaging in the ancient, biblical mandate of making disciples that make a difference. As the fellows grow in faith and practice, so will your church. The fellows program is an opportunity not only to mentor the emerging generation of leaders, but to incorporate them into leadership roles and other ministries of your church. Having been trained and discipled under your leadership, fellows are often excellent, culturally-aligned candidates for lay leadership and church officer roles.
Second, most fellows programs find that fellows become active members and leaders in the church that hosted them. More importantly, many churches in the TFI network report that the 22-32 age group has become their fastest growing community. As the fellows find their place in the local church, its ability to reach and love others in the emerging generation is greatly improved.
Third, since fellows serve each week in the church, a fellows program can provide a powerful boost to your youth ministries. While we strongly discourage a church from starting a fellows program solely for this reason, there is something to be said for the influx of a group of capable, enthusiastic young adults joining the ministry team each year. With good planning and coordination, fellows become integral members of your youth ministry team during their fellows year.
Finally, a fellows program is a truly unique opportunity for your church to connect to the city. Fellows will work in various organizations and will meet leaders and influencers in the city. These are unique connections that generally don't exist in the church. The fellows program can be an incredible new way for your church to meet and serve the city with the love of Christ.
About The Fellows Initiative
With three decades of experience, The Fellows Initiative is the original network of church-based, postgraduate Christian fellowship programs. TFI is a multi-denominational network of like-minded churches that love Jesus and hold the Bible in high regard as the Word of God. We are a thriving, growing, coast-to-coast network that equips hundreds of young leaders each year with a holistic understanding of faith in Christ that transforms culture.
As churches and ministry leaders in partnership with one another, TFI has developed a unique model, best practices, and resources that are available to every program that joins the network.
Come and Join this Growing Movement!
The first fellows program launched in 1994 in the Washington DC area. Other programs started launching a few years later. We have continued growing ever since. The foundational ideas quickly turned into a unique and successful model of discipleship and leadership development for emerging leaders.
TFI has successfully applied our proven model of vocational discipleship and leadership development in churches and cities across the country. Hundreds of recent graduates join fellows programs each year. The TFI network includes thousands of alumni living, working, and serving around the world.
Every program in the TFI network shares the same core elements listed above - and yet, every program is unique. The different locations, church communities, leaders, and program structures contextualize the TFI model to the local situation.
Ready to Get Started?
If you're interested in exploring a TFI fellows program for your church, the best next step is to sign up for our Come & See Training program.
TFI New Program Roadmap
During the Come & See training, we will walk you through the application process and give you the support you need to make your launch plans. There are no fees to join. When your application has been received and approved, the next step is our New Director Training course. This 3-day training happens onsite at your church. The goal is to impart as much information as possible to help your program director launch successfully.
If you have questions, feel free to contact us anytime.