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, 114 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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Lilly endowment inc. 2020 annual report

‘The Times They Are A-Changin’

Shifting demographics, social disruptions move congregations to explore how to remain relevant and serve their communities

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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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Ecclesia Ministries

Common Inspiration is a powerful new initiative that deeply integrates the current life, programs, joys, and challenges of Ecclesia Ministries’ unique homeless congregation with housed churches from across Christian denominations…

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Dakotas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

The Dakotas Connection Initiative helps enhance the Conference’s successful ministries and provides resources and platforms to ensure that vital ministry and community impact are happening in its rural communities. New…

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China Evangelical Seminary North America

CESNA is taking the next step in helping congregations thrive by engaging them proactively, strategically, contextually, and communally. Specifically, CESNA hopes to empower Chinese-American churches with congregational pastors who have…

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Center for Public Justice

The Center for Public Justice (CPJ) — a Christian, independent, and nonpartisan organization — and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) — representing over 40,000 evangelical Hispanic congregations —…

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Calvary Lutheran Church

Calvary Lutheran Church is a thriving 2,000-plus-member congregation in Alexandria, a rural community in northwestern Minnesota. With a clarity of mission and bold leadership, Calvary has doubled in worship attendance…

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Calvary Lutheran Church

Calvary Lutheran Church is a thriving 2,000-plus-member congregation in Alexandria, a rural community in northwestern Minnesota. With a clarity of mission and bold leadership, Calvary has doubled in worship attendance…

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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.

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