We believe that congregations play a critical role in nurturing and sustaining the spiritual lives of Christians as well as in extending the gospel mission into the world. We support efforts to enhance the vitality of congregations, honoring their wide-ranging worship rituals and diverse theological traditions and ministry contexts.

Our focus draws from the following questions:

  • What makes Christian congregations vibrant, effective communities of faith in their various contexts?
  • How can congregations understand more deeply contemporary social changes affecting their communities and adapt their ministries to advance their missions?
  • How can congregational lay leadership be strengthened and sustained?
  • How can congregations strengthen ministries that serve those in their communities and around the globe and build collaborative relationships with other organizations to contribute to the flourishing of their communities?
  • How can practices for promoting congregational vitality be shared across the wide diversity of traditions and settings in which congregations exist?

Related Initiatives

Thriving Congregations Initiative seeks to help congregations thrive by strengthening ministries that help people deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other and contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world. In 2019 and 2020 the Endowment made grants to 115 organizations from a wide variety of Christian traditions and diverse communities that support congregational vitality. Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School hosts a coordination program for the initiative. In 2023, the Endowment has announced a new round of funding.LEARN MORE

Ministry in the City Initiative seeks to enhance the work of congregations and Christian ministries of all kinds in cities across the United States by strengthening networks of diverse leaders in city-based ministries, identifying and sharing resources about vibrant congregations in cities, supporting research about such ministries, and encouraging experimental projects to test new approaches to ministries in cities. City Seminary of New York hosts the Ministry in the City Hub.Learn More

Related Grants

Indianapolis Center for Congregations strives to support congregations across Indiana by connecting them with effective resources to help pastors and other church leaders define and understand more clearly the challenges facing their faith communities, find the best resources to address them and learn practical ways to put those resources to use. The Center has worked directly with more than 5,000 Indiana congregations since its founding in 1996.LEARN MORE

Congregational Resource Guide, hosted and curated by the Indianapolis Center for Congregations, provides valuable online information to congregations nationwide to help them find resources to address their most pressing challenges.LEARN MORE

Calvin Institute of Christian Worship at Calvin University helps congregations across the nation grow stronger and enhance their ministries by providing high-quality resources, including conferences and worship renewal grants for pastors, church musicians and worship leaders representing a wide variety of traditions and worship styles. In addition, the Calvin Institute helps theologians and other scholars reflect on and understand more fully the importance of worship in Christian life.LEARN MORE

National Fund for Sacred Places provides planning grants, capital grants, consulting services and training to Christian congregations that have buildings that are valued for their architectural, cultural, historical and religious significance. The goal of the project is to help congregations restore their structures and create partnerships with ministries and other nonprofit organizations in their communities so that these historic churches can continue to be assets in those communities. The National Fund for Sacred Places is a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Partners for Sacred Places.Learn More

National Congregations Study is a long-term research effort widely recognized as providing the most authoritative and national representative data about the activities and practices of congregations in the United States. Four waves of the study – in 1998, 2006, 2012 and 2019 – have documented trends relating to congregational size, worship practices, staffing patterns, church finances, education and outreach ministries, ethnic and racial diversity, the use of new technologies and the connections between local churches and community organizations.LEARN MORE

Preserving Black Churches Project assists Black churches in the United States with the stewardship and preservation of their historic buildings as well as their stories of hope and resiliency as carriers of African American religious and cultural traditions. Based at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the project also helps to strengthen fundraising and related activities as the churches carry their vital ministries in the future.LEARN MORE

Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations is an expansive, mixed-methods research project that seeks to investigate the current changes and eventual outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic for congregational life in the United States. The Hartford Institute for Religion Research leads the project, partnering with a wide diversity of scholars, organizations and religious groups to share the best information as quickly as possible.LEARN MORE

The Colossian Forum helps congregations and pastors navigate polarizing issues and proactively address differences to avoid the negative and often devastating effects of sustained conflict. Founded in 2011, the organization has developed an effective methodology that they seek to teach and share with congregations and other groups.LEARN MORE

Project on Religion & Urban Culture 2.0 is a research project based at IUPUI that examines the role of congregations in the city of Indianapolis by studying 50 congregations over a three-year period beginning in 2020. For the purposes of comparative analysis, the project replicates key elements of the highly acclaimed study of the same named conducted from 1996 to 2002 to explore how congregations have adapted their ministries over the last 20 years to respond to social change.LEARN MORE