Congregational Collaborative Network

First English Seeks Grant from the Lilly Endowment and the Thriving Congregations Initiative

See the full proposal here.

Through the Thriving Congregations Initiative, Lilly Endowment seeks to help charitable organizations—especially those committed to supporting the vitality of congregations—develop new or strengthen existing programs that equip congregations to:

  • explore and understand the rapidly changing contexts in which they minister.
  • gain clarity about their own values and missions.
  • draw on practices from their theological and ecclesial traditions to adapt their ministries to their changing contexts.
The aim of the initiative is to help congregations strengthen their ministries and thrive so they can better help people deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other and contribute to the flourishing of their communities and the world.

First English Lutheran Church is submitting a five-year grant proposal to the Lilly Endowment Thriving Congregations Initiative with start-up to begin January 2021. FELC has prayerfully designed a proposal deeply rooted in values described in our official letter of request. FELC will serve as the organizational entity that will support 18-25 Christian congregations in Wisconsin and upper Midwest through a process that explores what it means to live out a mission with purpose and innovation and thrive in the midst of changing social and cultural context within their communities. The FELC proposal includes a five-year timeline that prayerfully guides two ecumenical cohorts of congregations through a Double-Diamond design inquiry and discernment process (discover, define, develop, deliver) where examining mission and vision is critical to navigating change. Communities of Practice (learning groups) will be created to support peer learning and resource sharing on a variety of ministry topics. FELC will provide facilitated leadership, and mini grants to congregations wanting to implement innovative ideas sparked through the work of Communities of Practice. The two cohorts of congregations and FELC will support the creation of a sustainable Congregational Collaborative Network providing continued structure beyond the grant cycle including online technology to support the work. A leadership team consisting of academic partners, ministry staff, congregational volunteers, marketing curators, community collaborators, and consultants will provide facilitation, evaluation and coaching throughout the program. FELC will compile resources on best practices in supporting congregations through change and make them publicly available.