September 27, 2023
Contact: Judith Cebula
317.916.7327 |

Grants Will Support Innovative Programs to
Strengthen Preaching

Indianapolis – Lilly Endowment Inc. has approved grants to 81 organizations through its Compelling Preaching Initiative to help Christian pastors strengthen their abilities to proclaim the gospel in more engaging and effective ways. The initiative’s aim is to foster and support preaching that inspires, encourages and guides people to come to know and love God and to live out their Christian faith more fully.

The grants, which total more than $95 million and range from $275,400 to $1.25 million each, were awarded in a competitive second round of the initiative to organizations that represent a broad spectrum of Christian traditions in the United States. They include mainline Protestant, evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Anabaptist and Pentecostal faith communities. Many organizations are rooted in the Black Church and in Hispanic and Asian American Christian traditions.

Grant-funded programs will strengthen preaching in a variety of ways, including:

  • Helping preachers reach and engage increasingly diverse audiences both within and beyond congregations.
  • Hosting educational opportunities for preachers to learn and share best practices for effective communication.
  • Supporting pastors and lay leaders as they preach about issues of growing importance to younger generations.
  • Helping pastors and others in ministry acknowledge and navigate polarization within congregations and communities in their preaching.
  • Helping congregations develop feedback groups to provide preachers with ongoing insights about how their sermons are being received.
  • Inviting young people into experiences of preaching that may help them discern potential callings to ministry.
  • Helping preachers communicate effectively with audiences through digital technologies and new media.
  • Developing and curating resources about effective preaching.

“Since the earliest days of Christianity, preaching has played a key role in communicating the good news of God’s love and nourishing the spiritual lives of Christians and their communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Throughout history, preachers often have needed to adapt their preaching practices to engage new generations of hearers more effectively. We are pleased that the organizations receiving grants in this initiative will help pastors and others in ministry engage in the kinds of preaching needed today to ensure that the gospel message is heard and accessible for all audiences.”

Grant-funded organizations include theological schools, faith-affiliated colleges and universities, congregations, media organizations, denominational agencies and other church networks. Find a list of the organizations here.

In 2022, the Endowment made grants to 32 organizations across the nation in an invitational round of the initiative. Also in 2022, the Endowment made a grant to Calvin University in support of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, which leads a coordination program to encourage shared learning and collaboration among organizations funded through both rounds of the initiative.

The Compelling Preaching Initiative reflects the Endowment’s longstanding interest in supporting projects that help nurture the religious lives of individuals and families and foster the growth and vitality of Christian congregations in the United States.

About Lilly Endowment
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. A principal aim of the Endowment’s religion grantmaking is to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by seeking out and supporting efforts that enhance the vitality of congregations and strengthen the pastoral and lay leadership of Christian communities. The Endowment also seeks to improve public understanding of diverse religious traditions by supporting fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.