What Are We Now Called To Become?

By: Stephen Lewis
September 16, 2013

Does God call organizations or only individuals? Do callings invite us to change and adapt while the world changes around us? I believe so.
During this past year, FTE has been discerning what God is calling it to become in the midst of new economic realities and changes within the academy, church and society. We paused most of our fellowship activities to determine what’s needed now and how FTE is being called to cultivate a new generation of leaders for the church and academy. We spent time listening to approximately 250 stakeholders and potential partners across the country. We convened and visited conversation partners at the edges of our work. We evaluated the impact of existing programs and assessed what future partners need to join FTE in advancing its mission during the next two decades.

“FTE will adapt and shift from primarily being a fellowship supporting organization to a leadership incubator that inspires young people to make a difference in the world through Christian communities.”

FTE’s future work will be informed by three consistent themes that emerged in our listening conversations:

  • Different communities are doing and need different things to identify and support future leaders for the church and academy;
  • Young adults and graduate students are looking for resources and a forum to connect with peers, explore Christian leadership and pursue innovative models of ministry and teaching that actively engage the community; and
  • Institutional leaders identifying and supporting future leaders need more customization of FTE’s existing resources to adequately address their culturally and contextually specific leadership needs.

In order to be responsive to these insights and changes in the church and society, FTE will adapt and shift from primarily being a fellowship supporting organization to a leadership incubator that inspires young people to make a difference in the world through Christian communities. As an incubator, we will offer future Christian leaders, pastors and theological educators:

  • a leadership network and professional development opportunities;
  • a community of peer support and mentoring;
  • grants and fellowships; and
  • a forum to explore callings to Christian ministry and teaching.

This organizational shift represents an evolution and not a departure from the work FTE began almost 60 years ago. It will shape how FTE develops programs and events over the next several years to address future leadership needs in the church and academy.
Over the next few months, we will reveal exciting new organizational and programmatic updates that will position FTE to inspire a new generation to shape the church’s future and its work in the world. I hope you will check back with us and join us as we move faithfully toward what God calls FTE to become in the next era of its work.

Photo caption: In April, FTE hosted a consultation of 36 leaders of schools and organizations related to doctoral theological education. Deans, presidents, and program directors wrestled with how to address the persistent diversity deficit in graduate theological education amid the shifting landscape of the church and higher education.

Tags: Inside FTE, Inspired Leaders, Shaping the Future


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