January 19 2024
Contact: Judith Cebula
317.916.7327 |

Initiative Will Help Congregations Nurture Faith Lives of Children Through Worship and Prayer

Indianapolis – Lilly Endowment is seeking to support efforts that nurture the faith of children by helping Christian congregations more fully and intentionally engage children in intergenerational corporate worship and prayer practices.

Through a new national competitive round of the Nurturing Children Through Worship and Prayer Initiative, eligible charitable organizations may apply for grants of up to $1.25 million to create new or enhance existing programs that address one or more of the following objectives:

  • Strengthening worship and prayer practices within congregations that attend to and respect how children experience God and express their faith.
  • Enhancing intergenerational worship to be more fully inclusive of children, including children with disabilities.
  • Drawing more fully on music, visual arts, drama and other sensory expressions to enhance how children experience worship and prayer.
  • Creating or improving opportunities for Biblical storytelling that help children learn and share stories of faith through worship and prayer.
  • Connecting worship and prayer practices more directly to the daily lives of children and their families.

The Endowment anticipates awarding approximately 60 grants to organizations that submit the most compelling proposals and demonstrate the capacity to design, implement and sustain high-quality programs. Learn more about the application process here.

“Worship and prayer are centerpieces of Christian life and play critical roles in the formation of a child’s faith and relationship with God,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Through singing, reading of scripture, listening to sermons, participating in prayer, observing the sacraments and engaging in other acts of worship, children both learn about and contribute to worshipping communities’ praise and celebration of God. Intergenerational corporate worship offers one of the most important settings for children to acquire the language of faith, learn their faith traditions, form strong attachments with people who care for them and grow in faith.”

The Endowment recognizes the broad array of theological perspectives and commitments of Christian communities and seeks to provide funding to organizations that support congregations serving diverse communities. Interested organizations are encouraged to design programs that draw on the wisdom of their theological traditions and are appropriate for their constituencies and ministry contexts.

“Congregational worship and prayer are sensory-rich formative settings that engage children in the language, movement and sounds of their faith traditions,” noted Coble.  “Recent research reinforces the importance of these immersive communal experiences for helping children encounter God and grow in faith.  Through this initiative, we are encouraging congregations to be more intentional in engaging in worship and prayer practices that more fully nurture the faith of all children as well as adults.”

In 2023, the Endowment made grants to 33 organizations in an invitational round of the Nurturing Children initiative.  The initiative complements other Endowment grantmaking supporting the religious formation of children and their families. In 2022 and 2023, the Endowment made grants to 125 organizations through its Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative. Those grants are funding efforts to provide resources for parents and other caregivers to help them share more effectively their faith and values with their children.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although gifts of stock remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. The Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion. Grantmaking in religion seeks to deepen and enrich the lives of Christians in the United States, primarily by 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 endeavors that provide fair and accurate portrayals of the role religion plays in the United States and across the globe.