Last year I accepted a call to serve as the Director and Senior Teaching Fellow of the C.S. Lewis Institute and to found the Charlotte and Carolina chapter of that distinguished discipleship and apologetic ministry. We are now preparing for our first “Fellows” cohort. Learn more about this ministry and how you could be a part at http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/Charlotte.
I believe that this Fellows program, which is made up of twelve months of once-per-month Saturday morning lectures, small groups, prayer, personal mentoring, and readings (and which was originally intended for young professionals recently out of medical school or law school or business school, which now spans the spectrum of ages and life stations) represents a remarkable discipleship resource (see below) for the Church in today’s environment. It is a way to read slowly, reflect deeply, and ask questions safely, all within a community of intellectually engaged, spiritually committed Christians who want to share Christ well in every area of life.
By the way, though we read C.S. Lewis, this is not a study of Lewis, but learning to study like Lewis: to defend the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God through the Bible, and as Biblical truth appears in literature, law, medicine, and other spheres of influence in our world.
We hope to have some interesting speakers across the year of Saturday mornings and some good books to read and discuss. We will kick it off with a retreat in the mountains in September and then start our Saturday morning Fellows meetings in October. We will have an Advent tea in December. A formal graduation will happen in June 2017 in a local church or chapel and you will join the worldwide alumni of C.S. Lewis Fellows. But the mission is not to build up your CV, but to build up the Church. So read about it on the web site. Think about it. Dream about what this could mean. By all means pray about it. If you would like to be part of our cohort, to journey through this unforgettable season together, fill out the app at http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/Charlotte.
MORE ABOUT THE FELLOWS PROGRAM
From the C.S. Lewis Institute official page on the Fellows Program.
“The program is twelve months in length and has two phases. Each month focuses on in-depth engagement with a major theme in discipleship/spiritual transformation. Phase I runs from mid-May to early September and consists of an orientation meeting and lecture, followed by monthly Bible studies, memory verses, classic readings and written assignments. There are no group meetings or lectures in June, July and August. Phase II begins in September and runs through the first week in June of the following year. It involves monthly Bible studies, memory verses, classic readings and written assignments, a monthly mentor meeting, a monthly small group meeting and a monthly Saturday morning lecture and discussion, which helps integrate all that has been learned on the theme.
A survey of Fellows who had completed the program found that 76% would be willing to lead a discipleship group in their home; 100% experienced an increase in their involvement in ministry to their family and neighborhood; 88% increased in their involvement in workplace ministry; and 84% said the program has “transformed or significantly impacted their life.”
As noted above, Phase II begins in September. We commence with a weekend retreat, which runs from Friday morning through lunchtime on Sunday. (You cannot participate in the Fellows program unless you attend the retreat, and no exceptions are made to this policy.) Thereafter, Fellows meet as a group one Saturday morning per month, 8:30-12:30 for instruction, group processing and fellowship. Fellows also meet once a month in a triplet for prayer and accountability. Please review all dates on the current calendar when applying to be certain you can commit to them.
The C.S. Lewis Fellows program requires a high level of commitment. Fellows continue in their careers while participating in this year-long program, and requirements are designed to be achievable even for busy professionals with families. Fellows are expected to complete all assignments and attend all regularly scheduled meetings. Think of it like an MA program, which requires you to attend all seminars, complete all assignments on time and process your learning with classmates. It becomes your second highest priority after your job. The time commitment is as follows:
- Monthly reading: Fellows engage with selected books, audio and video resources, and brief articles; personal reflection time is essential for the reading to make its impact (approximately 250 pages of reading per month)
- Small group fellowship: Fellows meet monthly in triplets or quads for prayer and accountability (2 hours). This, too, is an essential part of the transformation process.
- One-on-one mentoring: Each Fellow meets privately once a month with a mentor for discussion and spiritual guidance (75-90 minutes). The mentor meeting enables you to develop a relationship with an older and more mature believer, in which you can discuss what you are learning, or other issues raised through your studies.
- In November, Fellows participate in an urban service project (“Urban Plunge”), which requires all day Saturday.
Completion of an application, an interview with Institute staff or senior mentor, and two recommendations, one of which must be from the applicant’s pastor. The following are important characteristics of the applicant for the Fellows Program:
- The applicant’s strong desire to know and love God more deeply and to live out the gospel more faithfully.
- The applicant’s strong desire to actively serve Christ upon completion of the program, evidenced by a commitment and tentative plan of disciplemaking.
- The applicant’s strong desire to share the gospel of Christ with others and to help them grow as His disciples.
- The applicant’s commitment to engage with the program in terms of attendance, reading, group participation, and being mentored in discipleship.
- The applicant’s willingness to be open about his or her intellectual, spiritual, and personal life, along with a desire to receive godly insight and guidance from a spiritual mentor.
- The applicant’s geographic proximity to program venue and ability to attend all meetings.
- Support of the applicant’s spouse, if married.
- The Institute staff’s reasonable expectation that the applicant will benefit from the program and become a stronger, more credible and effective disciple of Jesus Christ in his or her sphere of influence.
- Availability of space in the group; compatibility with the group is also taken into consideration.
In order to remove barriers to participation, the C.S. Lewis Institute does not use a fixed tuition structure. However, the Institute incurs substantial expense in offering the program. Similar programs cost $2,500-$3,000. Instead, we ask Fellows to make the Institute one of the ministries (after the church) that he or she supports on a regular basis.
Nothwithstanding the above, all Fellows must cover the cost of their participation in the weekend retreat and an urban service project day (“Urban Plunge). Fellows must also pay for the books and materials required for the program, which will cost approximately $325 for the year (if purchased new).
Year One Fellows Program
The program focuses on a different biblical theme each month, including:
The Fatherhood of God
The Grace of God and True Conversion
Following Jesus Christ
Living a Life of Love
Growing in Humility
The Holy Spirit and Obedience
Growing in Prayer
Being Transformed through the Bible
Living a Life Faith and Generosity
Pursuing God’s Call on Your Life
The Mission of Disciplemaking
Fellows groups are organized by gender and age:
Young Professionals (ages 24-34)
Mid-Career Professionals (ages 35-55)
Senior Professionals (ages 56 +)”