Moberly, MO (December 8, 2023) - Central Christian College of the Bible (CCCB) has received a grant of $1.22 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support a four-year effort to provide resources, consultation, and coaching to individual Christian Churches/Churches of Christ and their leaders. The program is being funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. CCCB will deliver the program through the Christian Church Leadership Network (CCL Network), the church services division of CCCB. Participating church leaders will assess the opportunities and challenges facing their congregations and work with other churches to clarify their mission and vision, set clear goals, and develop and execute realistic plans for growth and greater impact.
The program will be offered at a small fraction of the normal cost of similar consulting packages, and participating churches will share ideas and encouragement with other congregations in their cohorts. CCCB envisions helping hundreds of Christian Churches/Churches of Christ over a four-year period (2024–2027).
Program offerings will include:
- regional gatherings of church leaders for fellowship and learning, offered across the country in partnership with other Christian colleges, seminaries, and ministries;
- a church health program that walks congregational leadership teams down a clear and simple path to increased impact, deeper discipleship, and more effective outreach;
- opportunities for participating churches to learn and work together.
“Our goal is to help churches thrive,” says Micah Odor, VP of Church Services and Executive Director of the CCL Network. “Teams of leaders from each church will work together to clarify vision, set goals, make plans, and steward resources. Participating churches will work with other congregations in their cohorts to share ideas about ways to reach the lost and develop disciples. And the CCL Network will work with other colleges and ministries that serve the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ to help as many churches as possible.”
David Vaughan, CCL Network’s Director of Coaching, will lead the development of congregational support services. Vaughan is widely recognized for his long-time leadership of Whitewater Crossing Christian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. “There’s nothing like the church when it's working right,” says Vaughan. “Local churches are the hope of the world, and we need to do everything we can to help them reach lost people.” Vaughan is especially thankful that the generous Lilly grant will help smaller to mid-sized churches gain access to coaching and consultation that they normally would not be able to afford. “Every church is vital to someone’s salvation,” he says.
Central Christian College of the Bible is one of 105 organizations that received grants through this competitive round of Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative. The aim of the initiative is to encourage the flourishing of congregations by helping them deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other, and contribute to the vitality of their communities and the world. Reflecting a wide variety of Christian traditions, the participating organizations represent mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox, Peace Church, and Pentecostal faith communities.
“Congregations play an essential role in deepening the faith of individuals and contributing to the vitality of communities," says Christopher L. Coble, Lilly Endowment’s Vice-President for Religion. “We hope that these programs will nurture the vibrancy and spark the creativity of congregations, helping them imagine new ways to share God’s love in their communities and across the globe.”
Thriving Congregations is the second major award that CCCB has received from Lilly Endowment in 2023. Earlier this year, CCCB received another large grant from the Compelling Preaching Initiative to elevate the quality, relevance, and effectiveness of biblical preaching and teaching. According to Odor, “These two major grants are a major blessing and will allow us to offer a wide range of opportunities impacting preachers and churches for years to come. We want to reach as many churches as we can in as many ways as we can, and we are very thankful to the Lilly Endowment for helping us do that.”
For more information, please visit https://ccl.network/ or contact Micah Odor at MicahOdor@cccb.edu.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.
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.