2022 Fellows Professional Projects Highlight

by Brian Gray

In May of this year, we graduated our sixth class of 5280 Fellows. Each spring of the Fellowship, we design, execute, and debrief our peers on a Professional Project. This project embodies the Fellowship theory of how people grow and impact others from the “inside out” — first through personal, then interpersonal, then organizational transformation. In each Fellow’s project, we ask them to identify a project goal within their sphere of influence (workplace or the culture around them) that does three things:

  • Recognizes a concrete need experienced by others near them 
  • Stewards their own skills, desires, and professional agency to meet that need
  • Is motivated by Kingdom reflection — what Biblical and Fellowship ideas suggest why a Christian professional should give herself/himself to this need

After identifying an integrated goal, Fellows design a 3-month project plan to address this need. At the final Fellowship retreat, we report on and celebrate what we learned from what we tried. 

These projects ask Fellows to live out two missional concepts. First, we are Christians living faithfully in an increasingly post-Christian and secularizing culture. These projects allow us to seek common ground with others and create a common good for others, but to do so lovingly in our own Kingdom-motivated way. Second, we believe that God asks us to be faithful in stewarding our gifts and loving our neighbors. This often produces the fruitful impact of love in missional partnership with God. But this doesn’t guarantee that we are “successful” — either in the world’s eyes or in our own desired outcomes. We can always be faithful to a process even if we cannot guarantee how productive it will be. Markets and pandemics and colleagues all influence the outcomes of our faithful efforts.

Two Fellows presented their projects at the opening dinner of our final retreat. These projects represented thoughtful design and faithful follow-through, even when the outcomes were different from what the Fellows had intended.

Hannah Curry worked as an administrative leader in Denver Public Schools. News headlines have noted the challenging season for teachers and administrators there of late. Hannah’s project intended to increase the visibility of mutually beneficial work between the Central Office & School Based Staff. She hoped to strengthen a sense of connection and shared momentum between those two groups who were less aware of each other’s critical efforts. Hannah’s faithfulness helped five different teams to be more seen and celebrated district-wide. Hannah noted, that this project “showed me the power of focusing on the agency I do have during difficult situations.”

Andy Thompson is the director of marketplace services for an online retail marketing firm. His project recognized a gap between his company’s workforce shortage and the societal need for better career jobs accessible to more workers. This “win-win” project created a training program to onboard new hires quickly and successfully, regardless of prior experience, allowing them to hire from a more diverse pool of candidates who lack traditional experience in online marketing. Andy’s efforts were very theologically motivated and have the potential to be creatively disruptive to traditional industry patterns, for the good of many. Andy’s current and growing leadership influence brings his creativity to the biblical vision of “seeking the peace and prosperity of the city…because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jer. 29:7).

Our 5280 Fellowship vision is for Fellows to “live with God, for the city, through their work.” For Hannah, Andy, and all of our Fellows, we imagine how these Professional Projects can be a 3-month gesture to inform a missional posture toward their career.

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Brian Gray

Brian is the COO here at DIFW and also leads our 5280 Fellowship program.  Prior to landing at DIFW, he served in pastoral ministry for thirteen years and at Denver Seminary for four years. His vocation includes moving ideas out into life through relationships and conversation – whether that applies to God, work, the Church, good beer, or Liverpool Football Club. He married way out of his league, and spends most of his free-time being parented by his two daughters.