The Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College has received a grant of $1 million to help establish the Church Evangelism Initiative. It is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Thriving in Ministry, an initiative that supports a variety of religious organizations across the nation as they create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.
Lilly Endowment is making nearly $70 million in grants through the Thriving in Ministry initiative.
As Billy Graham stated at its opening, the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College is a world hub for evangelism and training, and is now becoming a major thought leader in church revitalization. The vision of its Church Evangelism Initiative is to see thousands of churches across the United States and beyond develop communities where people find their way to Christ and where every disciple of Christ is equipped and mobilized to reach and make new disciples.
In the past three years, the Church Evangelism Initiative led revitalization efforts among the senior leaders of 120 churches across 7 states. With support from Lilly Endowment’s Thriving in Ministry, the Church Evangelism Initiative’s fruitful efforts will considerably expand to gather pastors into pastor cohorts of 6-10 each for peer mentoring, problem solving and mutual support. The result is that pastors will thrive in their congregational leadership and thus enhance the vitality of the congregations they serve.
“We have piloted an approach to revitalization that has begun to work in many churches, and now, thanks to the Lilly Endowment grant, we can expand significantly in both the numbers and the diversity of the pastors and churches we are serving,” said Dr. Rick Richardson, Project Director.
Within five years, more than 200 pastors will be revitalized, leading churches that experience increasingly effective missional engagement into diverse contexts, with plans to multiply groups and churches.