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What is a Fellows Program Anyway?

1-24-2017

What is a Fellows Program Anyway?

I don't like to admit it, but it's true. I don't always enjoy having to explain what I do. Don't get me wrong, I love working with Wesley Fellows at Floris United Methodist Church. The main reason I don't like having to explain what I do is the same reason I'm so excited to serve in this capacity: fellows programs fill a major gap in the church-at-large's ministry. People assume churches don't have ministries geared toward young women and men soon after they finish college not because they're ignorant, but because it's generally true.

So now you might understand my conundrum. I can say, "I'm a banker," or, "I work in cybersecurity," or even, "I'm a pastor," and expect my conversation partner to generally understand my profession. When asked about what I do for a living, my response requires further explanation about the very nature of the work that I do and the ministry I'm helping envision in our context. I've discovered very quickly that this ministry sells itself. People easily jump on board with their affirmation, prayers and resources because they have all too much awareness about the church's poor track record among young, working professionals.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 23% of American adults identify as "nones," or have no religious affiliation. This percentage jumps to 36% among Americans age 18-29. I don't point out these percentages to lament religious demographics or shame my own generation, but I believe they point out the changing landscape into which young Christians enter as they begin their adult lives. Faithful Christianity in the workplace doesn't look the same as it did 10 years ago and won't look the same in 10 years. Fellows programs, including Wesley Fellows, try to reach students in this zone and help them start their professional careers well with a foundation of faith exercised in community. We want to equip students to be faithful Christians and good workers, because we believe those two identities are not mutually exclusive.

You'll hear from me a little more in the coming months, hopefully giving you some insight into what shaping this program takes. But if you want to know more about what I do, ask me. I promise I won't be discouraged to explain what I do. 

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