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What Even is a Fellows Program Anyway?

What Even is a Fellows Program Anyway?

I don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. I don’t always enjoy explaining 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 explaining 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. They assume this not because they’re ignorant, but because it’s generally true.

So now you might understand my conundrum. If I were to say, “I’m a banker” or “I work in cybersecurity” or even “I’m a pastor,” my conversation partner would generally understand my profession. But when asked what I do for a living, my response almost always requires further explanation about both the nature of the work and the ministry I’m helping envision. Once people understand, however, I’ve discovered that this ministry sells itself. People easily jump on board with their affirmation, prayers and resources because they have all too much awareness of the church’s poor track record among young, working professionals.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 23 percent of American adults identify as “nones” or have no religious affiliation. This percentage jumps to 36 percent 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 another 10 years. Fellows programs, including Wesley Fellows, try to reach students in this zone and help them start their professional careers 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, please ask me. I promise I won’t be discouraged to explain what I do.

About Jonathan Fuller

Jonathan Fuller is the fellows program coordinator at Floris UMC and a student at Wesley Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Abby, live in Fairfax, Virginia. They both love cooking, reading and the outdoors. Jonathan has a passion for leadership and experiential learning and is grateful to serve as a member of the Floris UMC staff and congregation.

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