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Pepperdine University Receives $250,000 Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. for Compelling Preaching Initiative



October 5, 2023 – Malibu, CA – Pepperdine University has been awarded a $250,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support innovative programs to strengthen preaching. The Compelling Preaching Initiative helps Christian pastors strengthen their abilities to proclaim the gospel in more engaging and effective ways. The initiative’s aim is to foster and support preaching that inspires, encourages and guides people to come to know and love God and to live out their Christian faith more fully.

Lilly Endowment made a $1 million grant to Pepperdine in 2022 to help the university launch its preaching effort. The latest grant supplements that work, which includes:

  • Helping preachers reach and engage increasingly diverse audiences both within and beyond congregations.
  • Hosting educational opportunities for preachers to learn and share best practices for effective communication.
  • Supporting pastors and lay leaders as they preach about issues of growing importance to younger generations.
  • Helping pastors and others in ministry acknowledge and navigate polarization within congregations and communities in their preaching.
  • Helping congregations develop feedback groups to provide preachers with ongoing insights about how their sermons are being received.
  • Inviting young people into experiences of preaching that may help them discern potential callings to ministry.
  • Helping preachers communicate effectively with audiences through digital technologies and new media.
  • Developing and curating resources about effective preaching.

“Lilly Endowment had already trusted us with the initial grant to launch and strengthen programs to bless preachers and preaching,” said Mike Cope, director of ministry outreach at Pepperdine. “We are grateful for this further generous expression of confidence that allows us to extend the reach of these efforts.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Compelling Preaching initiative in 2022 with an invitational round of grants, that include Pepperdine. Earlier in 2023, Lilly Endowment expanded the initiative. Now, 113 organizations are funded through the initiative.

“Since the earliest days of Christianity, preaching has played a key role in communicating the good news of God’s love and nourishing the spiritual lives of Christians and their communities,” said Christopher L. Coble, the Endowment’s vice president for religion. “Throughout history, preachers often have needed to adapt their preaching practices to engage new generations of hearers more effectively. We are pleased that the organizations receiving grants in this initiative will help pastors and others in ministry engage in the kinds of preaching needed today to ensure that the gospel message is heard and accessible for all audiences.”

About Lilly Endowment
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.

About Pepperdine University
Pepperdine University is a private Christian university located 30 miles west of Downtown Los Angeles in Malibu, California. Rooted in the Christian tradition, Pepperdine is committed to both the relentless pursuit of truth through academic and scholarly excellence and to embodying Christian faith and values. With students at the heart of the educational enterprise, the University prepares approximately 10,300 scholars across its liberal arts school, Seaver College, and its four nationally recognized graduate schools for lives of purpose, service, and leadership.


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