2021 Annual Report
Growth: Beyond Surviving into Thriving
The Center for Congregations strengthens Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources to address their challenges and opportunities.
The Center for Congregations is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. and is a supporting organization of Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Rev. Timothy Shapiro, D. Min
The Center for Congregations continues to hold fast to its mission. Our mission is to strengthen Indiana congregations by helping them find and use the best resources available to address the challenges and opportunities they’ve identified. We have also remained committed to sharing what we are learning from Indiana congregations to congregations nationwide through the Congregational Resource Guide (CRG).
The unprecedented transitional period of the pandemic was one marked by great uncertainty. After adapting to online worship which was supported by the Center's Connect Through Tech grants, congregations were unsure if their routines would ever go back to what or how they were before.
In 2021, as congregations began to reopen for in-person worship, there was an undeniable shift. A shift that required more. So, as the Center responded and, with the help from additional grants, Indiana congregations expanded, rebranded, church planted and experimented with non-traditional forms of worship — experiments that for many congregations led to an increased number of worshipers. Many unexpected blessings of new partnerships between otherwise unconnected congregations and people were birthed. That’s why the theme is Growth…Growing beyond surviving into thriving!
As you read this report, we hope you find inspiration from the intentional work of these congregations and their tremendous examples of growth.
Growth…Growing beyond surviving into thriving!
Rev. Timothy Shapiro, D. Min, President
Center for Congregations
317Church Launching in Hendricks County
There are 100,000 people in Hendricks County — the third fastest growing county in Indiana — who are not a part of a congregation. 317Church in Avon is on a mission to become a church who reaches those individuals even if they never enter the doors of their church.
New Church Evolves from Young Adults Initiative
Throughout the pandemic, Living Word Baptist Church in Indianapolis saw how people of all ages were re-thinking how they engaged with their faith as they searched for new and different ways to worship. They took to heart the message from young adults that wanted an alternative to Sunday-in-the-pew worship.
Through their Connect Through Tech grant with the Center, Valparaiso Nazarene Church of Valparaiso, Indiana, was able to upgrade their tech equipment to better keep up with the need for online ministry. However, this congregation’s grant journey would quickly evolve into so much more. After connecting other congregations in their area who needed help with their own technology, Valparaiso Nazarene Church took it upon themselves to walk alongside these churches and show them the way. These connections opened the doors to new friendships, community partnerships, and even the start of a new ministry and business.
For Amazing Grace Christian Church of Indianapolis, Indiana, what began as an effort to reach the adult members of their congregation through online services during the pandemic grew into a creative effort to keep children engaged through a new form of ministry– online Bible lessons. With support from the Center, Amazing Grace Christian Church expanded their horizons and created the “Amazing Bible Stories” video series, allowing this congregation to stay connected to the most precious part of their ministry– the children.
The Congregational Resource Guide (CRG) has and continues to provide immeasurable support to congregations over the past few years as they navigate new challenges from integrating technology and engaging members through virtual worship to mental health and congregational leadership topics.
The Center for Congregations helps Indiana congregations through no cost consulting, educational events, grants, and additional resources.
- We listen to congregations about their needs.
- We provide information and options without telling congregations what to do.
- We help congregations find vendors, consultants and organizations.
- We give congregations the space and time to work through the information.
- And we offer grants to help congregations fund these things.
Meet the Team
The Center for Congregations’ board and staff is a group of passionate and dedicated people who are committed to serving Indiana congregations. Meet them and learn from the staff how they’ve witnessed growth beyond the pandemic.