Our Purpose

Thriving Congregations

Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving Congregations Initiative aims to help congregations strengthen their ministries so they can better help people deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other, and contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world.

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Overview

Reassessing, adapting ministries to new and emerging contexts

In all, 115 charitable organizations were awarded grants of up to $1 million each to help congregations adapt to changing social and cultural contexts, clarify their values and mission, and draw on Christian practices. Leadership Education at Duke Divinity supports and networks these grantees and shares what they are learning.

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Our Commitments

What makes congregations flourish?

Local congregations are the primary form of Christian community. Those that thrive share three characteristics.

Contextual knowledge

Relational and relevant ministries emerge from understanding rapidly changing communities.

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Mission clarity

A strong sense of identity and values draws from a church’s theological and ecclesial tradition.

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Vibrant practices

Common rituals help congregations effectively address new challenges and nurture spiritual vitality.

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Project Directory

Explore our grantees

Grantees include colleges and universities, theological schools, denominational agencies, individual congregations and other faith-based organizations and serve churches in a broad spectrum of Christian traditions.

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American Baptist College

Black congregations came into being to bear the gospel message of God’s kindom — the reign of love and justice — to the needs of healing and uplift for Black…

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RootedGood

The Oikos Accelerator empowers congregations around the U.S. to align money and mission by creatively using their buildings and property to further their mission and build financial resilience. In the New…

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University of Notre Dame

Fr. John Culkin said that we shape our tools and, thereafter, our tools shape us. The Church Communications Ecology Program (CCEP) at the McGrath Institute for Church Life provides a…

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Cornerstone University & Urban Church Leadership Center

This Thriving Congregations Initiative project aims to answer the following question: “How can Black, Hispanic, and Asian churches enhance the vitality of their congregations in the face of emerging social…

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Vibrant Faith

Vibrant Faith’s Thriving Congregations Initiative is designed to help congregations thrive by strengthening ministries that help churches deepen their relationships with God, enhance their relationships with one another, and contribute…

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Vibrant Faith

Vibrant Faith’s Thriving Congregations Initiative is designed to help congregations thrive by strengthening ministries that help churches deepen their relationships with God, enhance their relationships with one another, and contribute…

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Learn More About Vibrant Faith

Stories & Resources

What we are learning

Discover stories, essays and interviews about topics related to congregational life, including racial healing and justice, economic models, innovative ministry, leadership and more.

Rest can be hard work

The calls to work for justice and to make room for rest are significant and difficult to balance, writes a pastor and denominational executive from Michigan.

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The Practicing Church in Shoreline, Washington, seeks to live out its faith in the neighborhood

Borrowing from the Roman Catholic tradition of the parish, the pastor of a Vineyard house church focuses on serving the geographical area in which the church is located.

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A devastating storm becomes a turning point for a historic African Methodist Episcopal church

When volunteers and donors helped repair flood damage to its building, a congregation paid back the community by creating an ambitious food ministry.

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‘400 years of tears’ — how three churches in the present are beginning to atone for the past

Faith communities should be careful and thoughtful as they repent of this nation’s original sin, but they must move ahead with the work.

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A Minneapolis congregation finds new life through the ancient practice of keeping Sabbath

Two Sundays a month, Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church practices Sabbath, resting from work, obligations and even the worship service.

Navigate to A Minneapolis congregation finds new life through the ancient practice of keeping Sabbath
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