“I found myself drawn to this conversation.”
Circle City Fellows is itself an example of the kind of work it exists to spark.
The heartbeat pulsing through this organization is a belief that God cares deeply about the daily work of his people.
Founder and Executive Director David Bell has spent most of his vocational hours with the title “teacher” or “pastor.” In the past two decades, he has devoted himself to leadership development, whether teaching courses to Christian Ministries students at Taylor University, leading hundreds of young adults through a college ministry, developing his own leadership cohort curriculum or coaching individuals and groups in his Enneagram consulting role.
In 2018, Bell was at a crossroads, asking God what was next for him and his family when he came across New City Fellows, a program dedicated to helping young adults integrate faith into their workplace in Raleigh, North Carolina. At the time, Bell says he was looking for a staff position at a church but was surprised by how much this vision of the integration of faith and work caught his attention.
“I found myself drawn to this conversation,” he says. “How do you help people realize that what they do matters and that it matters to God and that it matters in God’s kingdom?”
Bell kept coming back to this question. As he shared it with friends, he says he found people in his life encouraging him to press into it, to explore it for the sake of greater Indianapolis.
Armed with a resounding “yes,” Bell assembled a board of directors and began connecting with faith and work organizations in other cities. He says he was compelled by a vision of raising up a generation of leaders committed to integrity and excellence at work and also to the welfare of Indianapolis.
Circle City Fellows is the tangible embodiment of that vision. Bell is creating a formative experience that integrates theological and cultural readings with discussions, mentorship, peer cohort learning and vision days. As fellows dig deeper into the integration of their faith and work, they will also explore issues that relate directly to greater Indianapolis.
For Circle City Fellows to truly flourish, Bell says he believes the conversation needs to include as wide a swath of culture as possible, incorporating people from all different sectors of work.
This vision doesn’t let the Church off the hook. Given his background, Bell is quick to point out that the Church could grow in its understanding of and implementation of a healthy theology of work. In fact, he says fostering and furthering that conversation is one of the most exciting parts of this vision.
“When you’re on a church staff, your job is to be an equipper,” he explains. “You equip people to do the work of God, as Ephesians four describes. Part of equipping people to do the work of God is reminding them that they do the work of God in the place where they spend the most time each week.”
Bell says Christians often misinterpret the assurance in Jeremiah 29 when God says, “I know the plans I have for you.” Though people are quick to hold it up as an individual promise, Bell points out that the promise was given to the Israelites as a people while they were in exile.
“God’s saying, ‘Since you’re in exile, I do have plans to prosper you,’” Bell explains. “‘But the way you’re going to get that is by seeking the welfare of the city. Seek the welfare of the city that just captured you and put you here. Seek the flourishing of that city—of Babylon, essentially. For you to flourish and prosper, Israel, it will be through the flourishing of this city.’”
Bell and others at Circle City Fellows are taking this promise literally, digging into the beauty and the mess of a culture often confused about how our work plays into God’s story and emerging with one pivotal question: What would it look like for Indianapolis to flourish more and more, with the people of God engaging deeply in every sector of the workplace?