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Leading Vibrant Congregations: A Collaboration of Faith and Finance

Photo of a small plant surrounded by stacks of quarters sprouting from the dirt

We are convinced pastoral leadership skills that include financial literacy and understanding are critical to the vitality of a congregation's ministry.

-Dr. Lallene J. Rector, Garrett-Evangelical President

Garrett-Evangelical understands how important it is for pastors to be financially literate and have the business skills they need to address the challenges congregations face today. To that end, with financial support from Lilly Endowment and in partnership with The Kellogg School of Management’s Center for Nonprofit Management, Garrett-Evangelical proposes a progressive and far-reaching program to equip pastors to be competent in financial affairs to become more effective leaders in their congregations and communities. 


In order to pastor vibrant congregations, clergy must be able to work with their members to make sound business decisions in the context of their church’s vision and mission. Too often, clergy and their congregations discover that they are not thinking theologically about financial matters and that their financial commitments are not aligned with their ongoing mission, thus undermining their missional and strategic goals.

The progression of the program at Garett-Evangelical is to move from equipping pastors to be competent in financial affairs, to helping pastors become more effective leaders in their congregations, to supporting pastors in becoming change agents for their denominations and communities, and finally to providing scholarly material to help replicate this work in the academy and church.

Components of the Program

  1. The first component is an online learning path supported by interactive webinars that give clergy an opportunity to learn key, theologically grounded financial practices at a lower cost and in a shorter timeframe.
  2. The second component consists of in-person seminars in central locations focused on how clergy can implement what they have learned about nonprofit finance within their church. These one-day seminars will be developed and co-taught by faculty from Garrett-Evangelical and the Kellogg School of Management Nonprofit Center.
  3. The third component would fund partial scholarships for Black and Latino/a students in the two doctor of ministry leadership tracks at Garrett-Evangelical.
  4. The fourth and final component is to broaden the academic writing on the economic and financial management challenges facing pastoral leadership. Under the leadership of the Stead Center for Ethics and Values, a series a co-authored articles will be published providing practical insight and advice in light of contemporary financial circumstances



Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support the causes of religion, education and community development. Lilly Endowment’s religion grant-making is designed to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians. It does this largely through initiatives to enhance and sustain the quality of ministry in American congregations and parishes. More information can be found at