By Kyle Spencer, Fellows Class of 2017
In a postmodern world that teaches millennials the ideology of individualism, the Fellows Initiative (TFI) was created to help recent college graduates pursue character, excellence, and leadership in every aspect of life, with their faith as the foundation, resulting in the embodiment of Christian virtues. This life system not only engages millennials in the Church, but transforms their theology in the workplace and community, which is why graduates of a Fellows program tend to be drawn to the biblical teaching that our work echoes in eternity. Thus, it is only divine intervention that 25+ Fellows Programs have been created across the United States since 2006, and the reason a TFI “Come and See” conference was held in Monterrey, Mexico.
Through a series of organic conversations, multiple mission agencies such as Mission to the World (MTW), South American Mission, Serge (formerly World Harvest Mission), and folks from the Redeemer City-to-City Church Planting Network (as started by Tim Keller) agreed to meet in Monterrey to better learn how they might globally partner to create Fellows Programs in their local church plants. It is important to note that it is somewhat rare for global mission agencies to fully collaborate due to certain theological and philosophical approaches to reaching the lost. The fact that these many global missions entities were coming together is a testament to TFI’s fruitfulness. There is also a strong desire to engage millennials both in the Church and in the city, and collaborating with TFI serves that common goal. Thus, these partnerships led a local pastor in Monterrey, Mexico, Andres Garza, along with Jud Lamos, a globalization specialist with MTW, to sponsor an event where local church leaders, business leaders, and mission agencies could come and learn about TFI. The goal of this gathering was twofold: to start a relational conversation on engaging millennials through the TFI model, and how the TFI model can be translated across different cultures.
“Rejoicing the City,” the title of this global gathering held in December 2016, was used to target a wide range of audiences: church leaders, business and civic leaders, global mission leaders. The first day was focused on creating a conversation with local church leaders; the second day focused on local business leaders (both Christian and non-Christian), and a third session focused on mission agencies. Although the conversation looked different within each discussion, one main question echoed in all three: How can a Fellows Program bring rejoicing and flourishing to a city? Jeremiah 29:7, the theme of the gathering, calls for Christians to “seek the welfare of the city.” And “when it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices” according to Proverbs 11:10. The concept of a Fellows Program seeks to achieve these things in the context of its city: to form, strengthen, build, and create Creational and gospel-centered beauty in all different industries: arts, business, politics, etc. The result of each discussion led to a resounding praise, with leaders from each group wanting to create a Fellows Program within their city.
Although there are many questions left to address—such as specifics on how a local church in a global city can start a Fellows Program and how the TFI model can be tailored to fit the specific culture of the city—one thing is clear: God’s glorious plan for His church is alive, actively shaping the lives of millennials (and all people!) through the transformative power of the Gospel, seeking to renew all things in His creation. The fruits of the Fellows Initiative are just one small piece of that beautiful picture of God redeeming and restoring all things through Christ.