When I joined the Denver Institute team for the final quarter of 2022, I relished the excitement of starting a new role with an exceptionally talented team that had contributed significantly to the faith and work movement. I was and still am motivated by the thrill of imagining the possibilities that emerge when those who follow Christ realize the meaningfulness of their role at work for God’s vision for their city. The awe and majesty of the Front Range is a constant invitation to explore and find delight in what God has made. I feel the same way about this role.
The first task in my new role was to discover the possibilities that lie ahead for Denver Institute. What work needs to be done? Who can and should we partner with to do that work? What do people think and feel about this organization? Do we have a role to play in the larger faith and work movement, and if so, what is it? So, I began a listening tour to see what would emerge and to envision a new chapter at Denver Institute.
As God says through the prophet Isaiah, he is springing up a new thing! He’s making streams in the wasteland and a way in the wilderness. Work really can be like that. Hope in the wilderness. Something fresh in the mundane and barren.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
We recognize God is doing something new in Denver, the Front Range, and in our work. It’s the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God in every workplace, neighborhood, and family. Yet, while we’re planning for our renewed role in its emergence, we can look back and see the new things God did through the investment and work that happened in 2022. Like Isaiah says, it’s our job to perceive it.
So, this report shares the story of four of our programming areas that were new or grew significantly in 2022. We hope you’ll consider and perceive how they might bring new life to your work. It also highlights the story of two real estate co-workers impacted by Denver Institute who are making a way in the wilderness. Their stories will inspire and challenge you like they have us.
Before you read those, I’d like to share with you some of last year’s highlights from my vantage point as the new CEO.
First and foremost, I am eager to relay how well our Board of Directors and staff worked together through the leadership transition and a significant fundraising challenge. Leadership transitions are never easy, and many organizations struggle to keep from fumbling the handoff. I am deeply grateful and encouraged that Denver Institute’s founder, staff, and board of directors navigated the transition with diligence, wisdom, and patience. As an organization in transition, we still have work to do. Thankfully, we have a strong foundation from which to build.
The foundation’s strength also comes from so many of you who give generous financial support. Here are just a few numbers that give me hope and encouragement for our future growth and impact:
- Monthly partners who give at least $25 per month or more increased from 47 in 2020 to 100 in 2022, a 110% increase.
- Our two-year donor retention rate went from 29% to 62% between 2020 and 2022, a 110% increase.
- Major donor giving increased by 38% from 2021 to 2022. Without this increase, the transition could not have happened.
Thank you for stepping up at the right time to support our mission and demonstrate your trust in our staff and Board of Directors.
Perhaps the most satisfying group of constituents I had the privilege of hearing from was our 5280 Fellowship alumni. The individuals who have gone through this nine-month intensive vocational discipleship journey are exceptionally thoughtful, and motivated by a desire to honor Christ and make his Kingdom more tangible in their daily work. They integrate their faith and work daily in creative and concrete ways. Their comments and encouragement about the Fellowship went beyond what I hoped they’d say. This is an initiative I wish every Christian worker could experience.
On my sixth day at Denver Institute, I attended our annual Women, Work, and Calling event. Joanna Meyer has masterfully cultivated and curated vocational discipleship opportunities for women that go beyond this event. Her leadership and passion for this initiative is contagious, and our entire team is behind it. I’m eager to see where God leads this effort and how Joanna continues to shape it.
Finally, we are all thrilled to work with InterVarsity Press to publish two books, which will be released this fall. I had the distinct privilege of editing and shaping a primer on the basics of a theology of work based on our team’s contributions over the last several years, and Joanna authored a book for women on living out their faith in public life.
From intensive vocational discipleship to large-scale events to creating content, these three initiatives are an example of our team’s hard work to influence work and public life for God’s glory and kingdom.
We are committed to cultivating new and emerging ways to extend our mission to form men and women to serve God, neighbor, and society in their daily work because we believe the Church’s greatest opportunity for demonstrating and inviting people into God’s Kingdom is the everyday work of Christians. Imagine the impact that emerges when the people of God complement the creative and redemptive work God is doing to make all things new. We think it looks like workplaces and cities where everyone experiences what Jesus came to bring: life to the full.
Thank you for serving God, neighbor, and society through your daily work, and thank you for investing in our mission to equip more people to do the same.
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This post was published April 13, 2023
Ross Chapman was named CEO of Denver Institute for Faith & Work in August 2022. Before working at Denver Institute he served as the President and Executive Director at For Evansville, a movement of people who are actively working toward the good of the Greater Evansville region. Ross has earned his doctorate of ministry in faith, work, economics and vocation at Fuller Theological Seminary.