by Ellie Willenburg
Christian Fellowship Leadership Institute (CFLI) started its second year on June 5 at Donnie Berry’s house with a book discussion of Ray Ortlund’s The Gospel. The group of about 21 men and women, most of them between the ages of 18-30, sat in a circle drinking tea and discussing the book’s message and its impact on them. After a lively discussion the group parted ways with a new book to read in the upcoming month.
CFLI, a one-year long discipleship and leadership program headed by Donnie Berry through Christian Fellowship Church, seeks to equip young adults with biblical knowledge and help them discover and develop gifts and abilities that can be used to serve in the church and outside the church in the community and world.
Participants in CFLI can opt to be either apprentices or interns, depending on their desired level of commitment and their school, work, and family obligations. Apprentices promise about 8-10 hours of their time to CFLI related meetings and activities while interns can choose to have either part or full time status and equivalent responsibilities.
CFLI focuses on the dimensions of head, heart, and hands. Apprentices and interns read twelve theological or devotional books or book excerpts throughout the year (one per month) and meet the first Sunday of each month in the homes of one of the participants for that month’s book discussion. Books the group will be reading include selections of Knowing God by J.I. Packer, Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis and Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Group members submit a one-page book review over their assigned book before or on the day of the book discussion.
CFLI is not just about gaining head knowledge. Apprentices and interns are also given ministry and service opportunities through Christian Fellowship Church. Upon applying for CFLI, participants are asked about areas of interest and are offered assignments that allow them to explore and serve in these areas. For some participants this may be children’s ministry or helping with worship service. Other participants may do community outreach and evangelism.
A final aspect of CFLI is relationships with others and with God. CFLI provides personal accountability through a mentoring relationship that places participants in a group of two or more that meet regularly to provide accountability and encouragement. The aim of CFLI is to help the young adults participating in the program to grow in their walk as Christ followers.
For those who enjoyed the first year at CFLI, there is a second year that members are encouraged to participate in. If you are a young adult in the church who was not able to be a part of CFLI this year, please consider joining next year. It is up to you to take what you will from this experience, but if approached in the right way, it can help you to develop as a leader, a servant, and a follower of Jesus.