Christian organizations receive over $92M to help parents pass on their faith to children

Unsplash/Samantha Sophia
Unsplash/Samantha Sophia

A private philanthropic foundation has approved 77 grants of up to $1.25 million to be awarded to various Christian groups and organizations across the United States to help parents and caregivers share their Christian faith with their children. 

The Lilly Endowment, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, will donate to dozens of Christian institutions and ministries through its Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative, which involves helping "interested parents and other caregivers share their Christian faith and values with their children [to] build on recent research that affirms the pivotal role parents play in the religious lives of their children." 

"We've heard from many parents who are seeking to nurture the spiritual lives of their children, especially in their daily activities, and looking to churches and other faith-based organizations for support," Lilly Endowment Vice President for Religion Christopher L. Coble said in a statement announcing the grants.

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"These thoughtful, creative and collaborative organizations embrace the important role that families have in shaping the religious development of children and are launching programs to assist parents and caregivers with this task," he added.

The "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 U.S. and abroad.

Through the grant-award-giving initiative, the Endowment hopes to provide aid to a variety of "approaches that are grounded in the theologies of diverse Christian communities."

Those receiving donations include a variety of denominations, Christian colleges, local congregations and regional districts of national church groups.

Notable recipients include Asbury Theological Seminary, Marquette University, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, College of the Ozarks, Wheaton College and the University of Notre Dame. The awards granted to each organization range from $240,000 to $1.25 million. 

"During the last two years, religious leaders have shared with us how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the daily lives of children and their families," Coble said in an October 2022 statement introducing the Christian Parenting and Caregiving Initiative. "This experience has prompted for parents many questions about their faith and values, especially as they have sought to respond to spiritual questions raised by their children.

Those invited to apply for the grants included "organizations with public charity tax status" such as "theological schools, colleges and universities, church resourcing agencies, publishing houses, national and regional denominational judicatories, camps and retreat centers, and other religious organizations."  

"Our hope is that this initiative will help congregations and other Christian organizations strengthen ministries that reach and support families and help interested parents and caregivers more confidently nurture the faith of their children," Coble added.

According to the Endowment, the initiative encourages congregations and other Christian organizations "to ensure that the resources, programs and ministries they develop and offer are developmentally appropriate for the ages of the children involved." 

The endowment also wants the programs they offer "designed to meet the needs of families of different shapes and sizes, families from racially and ethnically diverse communities, and families with different religious identities among their members." 

Research has shown that many Christians struggle with how to best share their faith.

A 2022 Lifeway Research study found that two-thirds of American Christians don't know methods for how to share their faith with others, even though over half (54%) said they are either "willing" or "eager" when asked what they think about "telling others about Jesus Christ." 

Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. 

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