The ELCA has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the ELCA Compelling Preaching: Transformed Listeners Initiative.

The goal of the initiative is to cultivate persuasive preaching by inviting ELCA ministry leaders to review research findings about current preaching settings; propose innovative ways to apply those learnings in their individual ministry contexts; participate in funded cohort learning initiatives; and produce successful preaching foundations for all lay leaders and rostered ministers seeking to transform lives through the gospel. A $50,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. earlier in 2022 supported the initiative’s research phase.

“We believe the word of God has power, changes lives and transforms communities,” said Louise Johnson, ELCA executive for administration. “To have the opportunity to understand the task of preaching from the perspective of the listener is an extraordinary gift in a world longing for justice, reconciliation and healing. We are deeply grateful for the Lilly Endowment’s commitment to the life and health of congregations and anticipate that this work will lead us to live more faithfully into our calling as a church to steward the word of God.”

“While the story never changes, the ways people communicate have rapidly been changing,” said Philip Hirsch, ELCA executive director for Christian Community and Leadership. “Zoom, Facebook Live, TikTok and Instagram have changed the methods by which people have engaged in the message of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our hope is that people’s lives will be well reflected in the messages they hear and see, and that the good news of Jesus will lead us all to a more hopeful future that God has in mind for humanity.”

The project is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Compelling Preaching Initiative. The ELCA is one of 32 organizations receiving funding in an invitational round of grants for the initiative, which is designed to help Christian pastors strengthen their abilities to proclaim the gospel in more engaging and effective ways.

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