Teacher-Scholar Grants



Program Overview

Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants for teacher-scholars provide funding for individuals engaged in research that connects Christian worship with other academic disciplines.

Purpose: Our aim is to support year-long scholarly research projects that show promise in strengthening Christian public worship practices and nurturing congregations and worshiping communities in the United States or Canada. (See also: Vital Worship, Vital Preaching Grants for worshiping communities.)

Grant amounts: Funding awards range from $8,000 to $25,000.

Who Is Eligible for a Teacher-Scholar Grant?

We welcome applications from teacher-scholars at any stage of their career—from emerging graduates to seasoned scholars—who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Teach (or serve as a program leader) in any academic discipline at a seminary, divinity school, college, or university (public or private) that meets the following three requirements:
    • Accredited
    • Nonprofit organization
    • Based in the United States or Canada
  • Are engaged in research that connects worship with another discipline of study and practice, whether in the liberal arts, sciences, or theological education—such as ethics, preaching, missions, history, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, fine arts, disability studies, urban studies, and so on
  • Are involved in some type of worshiping community—including traditional congregation or parish settings, campus ministries and chapels, hospitals, jails and prisons, nursing homes and hospice care settings, camp ministries, and military bases

Please note the following:

  • Grants cannot be used to fund dissertation research, but they can be used to apply or extend the insights of a dissertation or other prior academic research to help strengthen and nourish the public worship life of the church.
  • Preference will be given to grantees who hold full-time teaching or research positions, though part-time teacher-scholars are welcome to apply.
  • Grants are awarded to the institution that employs the teacher-scholar, for the use specified in the grant proposal and under the budget approved by CICW.
  • Teacher-scholar grantees may not simultaneously serve as a project director for a Vital Worship, Vital Preaching worshiping communities grant.
  • No individual should apply for a teacher-scholar grant if they currently have a personal grant from a Lilly Endowment Inc.-funded program such as a Louisville Institute grant, Lilly Endowment’s clergy sabbatical program, etc. An individual who is a project director for a major Lilly Endowment grant may be eligible for a Vital Worship, Vital Preaching teacher-scholar grant. Please include an appendix to your proposal that details the Lilly Endowment’s contribution to your compensation through the larger grant and explains how funds for a Vital Worship, Vital Preaching teacher-scholar grant would complement that.

What Characteristics Do Teacher-Scholar Grantees Share?

Typically, teacher-scholars in this grant program possess many of these attributes:

  • Understanding of historical, theological, and cultural contexts in which the church ministers
  • Time, resources, and skills for musical engagement or other forms of artistic engagement
  • Ability to integrate theological reflection and practice
  • Natural points of integration through personal engagement in and reflection on worship
  • Connections and perspectives across multiple Christian denominations
  • A desire to:
    • Reflect on the church as both the subject and the audience of their work
    • Explore how their personal expertise can shape the life of their congregation or worshiping community
    • Collaborate with ministry leaders and others involved in the community’s worship life
    • Renew their vocation as liturgical teachers and participants

What Types of Projects Can Receive Grants?

Scope of practices: Grant projects can focus on a wide range of worship practices and topics, including:

  • Prayer
  • Preaching
  • Music
  • Architecture
  • Visual arts or culture
  • Media use
  • Lord’s Supper/Eucharist/communion
  • Baptism
  • Links between public worship and pastoral care
  • Social witness
  • Evangelism
  • Mission

Scope of research: Qualifying projects can take several possible angles of inquiry, such as explorations of:

  • Economics of worship practices
  • Social or individual psychology and worship participation
  • Sociological or anthropological insights on the cultural context of worship
  • History of, or theological rationale for, specific religious practices
  • Leadership and accountability models
  • Technology, social media, and worship
  • Challenges and opportunities of particular cultural contexts, including reflections on any potential barriers or negative implications of the proposed work
  • Using publications, forums, seminars, artistic and musical engagement, or residencies to engage worshiping communities
  • New lines of research and teaching related to the applicant’s discipline

These lists are not exhaustive—any number of other ideas could shape the focus of a teacher-scholar’s year-long project.

How Are Grant Proposals Assessed?

All grant proposals are evaluated by a team of evaluators who look for projects with the following strengths:

  • A topic or theme that:
    • Addresses specific needs and opportunities in an individual community or the church as a whole, or
    • Focuses on topics of pastoral or theological significance for a Christian audience, or
    • Draws on the teacher-scholar’s prior work in a relevant discipline
  • A process that:
    • Can be realistically completed within the grant’s one-year time frame, and
    • Features engagement with a particular worshiping community, and
    • Includes collaboration with church leaders or members as partners in peer learning (for example, a reading group focused on a book or topic, or a partnership between a teacher-scholar and a pastor)

What Is Expected of a Grantee?

During their grant year, teacher-scholar grantees are required to:

  • Submit a mid-year report, including a budget report
  • Submit a year-end report and budget report
  • Submit manifestation of their research—a draft article, draft chapter, media presentation, curriculum, performance recording, etc.

Applying for a Grant

Create an account in our Grant Management System. To complete your profile, you will need your organization’s tax ID number.

Enter your answers to the application questions. Note that the system allows you to:

  • Save your work and return to it later
  • Preview the full application before submitting it
  • Create a PDF of the proposal form to share with others


Grant project timelines are subject to change in future years.

Proposals Due

June 15, 2024

Oct. 15, 2024

Approved Grants Announced

Aug. 15, 2024

Dec. 15, 2024

Letter of Agreement Due
First 50% of grant funds sent after Letter of Agreement is received.

Sept. 1, 2024

Jan. 1, 2025

Program Work Begins

Sept. 1, 2024

Jan. 1, 2025

Mid-Year Report with Budget Due

Second half of grant funds sent after Mid-Year Report is received.

March 1, 2025

July 1, 2025

Final Report with Budget Due

Sept. 1, 2025

Jan. 1, 2026