Start well. That’s the tagline for a 14-year-old organization that helps connect college graduates with jobs — and to the roots of their Christian faith. For nine months post college, fellows, as they’re called, live, work, and learn together in 31 cities across the United States. From Alabama to California, churches across the country host fellows programs each year, investing in what we call whole-life discipleship seven days
Starting well, though, is something many college students aren’t prepared for when they graduate. College is often a time of planning for one thing: your career. Connecting the Christian faith to everyday life can be an obstacle, and students graduate either with questions or unaware of the need to connect the two as they start a job.
The Fellows Initiative Program launched in 2006, but its roots go deeper and longer through Falls Church Anglican in Washington, D.C., where the program’s ideologies grew more than 26 years ago.
“The program was born because people wanted it,” John Kyle, executive director of the program, said during a phone call this spring. He believes the program, which gives graduates an opportunity to connect their jobs to their faith in practical ways, actually benefits the church and city — and the fellow.
“We want churches to be thinking they need to raise up the next generation of leaders who have these ideas and who are prepared to lead, and serve, and who understand that work is one of the key ways that we can bring flourishing in the world,” he said.
And the primary way this is done is through discipleship both on the job and within the church, which, he believes, will inherently change a city for the good.
“Bringing these ideas into the workplace about who Jesus is and his vision for work and economic flourishing, the city is going to benefit as we go out in this way.”
Today the program trains graduates in 31 cities. Fellows are placed either in host homes or in communal living spaces. From mentors to church involvement, coursework, and career responsibilities at their company, fellows spend nine full months gaining skills they generally don’t receive in college classroom settings. The goal? To start well.
“God has called us to work. He’s called us to serve. He’s called us to love the world even as broken as it is,” Kyle emphasized. “He’s called us to have this whole-life discipleship in all areas of life, there’s no separation of my faith and who I am outside of that. We are Christ-followers everywhere we go. And that’s at the center of what we teach.”