Northwest University Receives $1 Million Lilly Endowment Grant to Develop Program for Christian Parenting
Northwest University has received a grant of $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to establish the new Family Faith Formation Initiative. This program is part of Lilly Endowment’s grant-making that is supporting organizations as they help parents and caregivers engage in Christian practices to pass on their faith and values to their children.
The Family Faith Formation Initiative will launch in 2023 on the Seattle-area campus of Northwest University. During five years, a committed group of faculty and church leaders will work with parents, caregivers, and pastors to serve a rising generation of Christian young people.
The most significant and long-lasting result of these efforts will be the development of a world-class faith formation assessment tool accessible via the web and digital app. This high-quality resource will be accessible to parents and church leaders alike. By developing a trusted and helpful means to assess the discipleship needs of children, families and pastors will be able to chart clear next steps and utilize helpful tools to address specific and targeted areas of concern.
The Family Faith Formation Initiative will be housed in Northwest’s Center for Calling and Theological Formation and led by its director, Dr. Joshua Ziefle, dean of the College of Ministry. Working with him will be a faculty program leader and other key team members drawn from both the university and our church community. Over the coming years, their work will mark the beginnings of a new approach to understanding family faith formation and provide a clear path forward for parents and caregivers.
Northwest University President Joseph Castleberry supports this program, noting: “We believe in the work of the Church and are committed to helping equip its leaders to pass on the faith to rising generations of Christian believers. Northwest has a strong relationship with our parent denomination (the Assemblies of God), making us particularly well placed to serve ministers, congregations, and parents/caregivers in the broader Pentecostal-Charismatic tradition.”
Dr. Brent Colby, former Children’s Ministry director for the Northwest Ministry Network, stated the following: “Parents are facing unprecedented challenges to raise kids in the truth and love of Jesus. We believe that the discipleship of children is the most important task of our church family today.” He went on to note: “Helping parents pass down biblical truths to their children is the most effective way to proclaim the gospel. Northwest University is uniquely positioned to equip parents and ministry leaders to bring the hope of Jesus to the next generation.”
Northwest University, founded in 1934, is a private Christian university affiliated with the Assemblies of God. Its mission focuses on “spiritual vitality, academic excellence, and empowered engagement with human need.” Northwest University’s close affiliation with the Assemblies of God provides a direct connection to the networks of congregations and church leaders represented by one of the largest Pentecostal-Charismatic groups in the United States. Its association with the broader tradition also provides connection with groups like The Foursquare Church and the Church of God in Christ, as well as sectors of the nondenominational church world.
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 Eli and J.K. Jr.—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment 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. The Endowment maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state of Indiana. Its grant-making in religion focuses on supporting efforts to strengthen the leadership and vitality of Christian congregations throughout the country and to increase the public’s understanding of the role of religion in public life.