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Unbinding the Gospel Project

The Lilly Endowment awarded a series of five major grants (1996-2014) which Martha Grace Reese initiated and directed.  These grants have all been in the areas of Mainline Congregational Renewal through spiritual leadership.  From 2002-2014, the emphasis has been evangelism.  First, to discover what factors correlated with sustained congregational growth in mainline churches.  Second, to help a broad range and a large number of congregations work with the process Reese and her colleagues developed through the research.  The last project,t the "Unbinding the Gospel Project (2007-14) has had two stated purposes:

  1. to support groups of churches (1000+ congregations) with coaching so they can use the Unbinding Series in the most contextually systematic and effective ways to develop evangelistic motivation and numerical growth, and
  2. to help pastors and lay leaders in these 1000 churches work together as "communities of inquiry," in essence as field researcher partners, as they discover, evaluate and work with the dynamics of congregational transformation through faith development, faith sharing and missional outreach.

Findings of this seminal, pragmatic study are to be found in the three public reports to the Lilly Endowment:

Reports to Lilly Endowment:

Fourth Report to the Lilly Endowment 

2nd Report to Endowment

1st Report to the Endowment