Browsing: Leading Ideas

Leading Ideas
Delivered every Wednesday, our free e-newsletter Leading Ideas offers articles by thoughtful, cutting-edge leaders on subjects you care about — navigating change, reaching younger people, financing your ministry, communicating effectively — to help you be the leader God is calling you to be.

The Lewis Center is committed to helping congregations and denominations thrive and grow by providing ideas, research, resources, and training for vital and fruitful leadership. Through Leading Ideas, we share vignettes of leaders and congregations, book reviews, leadership quotes, and helpful “right questions” built around the premise that leaders don’t need answers — they need to know the right questions.


Leading Ideas
0 4 Steps to a More Welcoming Church Building

Lovett Weems reminds us that visitors often form a first impression of a church based on the appearance of the areas they first encounter, such as the parking lot, entry, and restrooms. He recommends four steps to assess and improve the message sent to newcomers by the condition of your facilities. Do you remember what it was like to go…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Multiply Disciples the Way Jesus Did

Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird explain that for our ministries to have a truly exponential impact, we need to be mentoring, developing, and multiplying disciples. They share four key learnings about how Jesus nurtured his followers by investing time in them. In John 3:22, the Bible makes an easily overlooked, seemingly mundane statement: “Jesus and his disciples went out into…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Things to Do When a Church Is in Decline

Ron Edmondson says addressing decline promptly and honestly is difficult but critical work for congregations in a slump. Objectively evaluating problems, avoiding blame, and charting a clear way forward are some of the steps he recommends. What should you do when a church is in decline? I get asked that question a lot. It should be noted there are no…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Keys to Congregational Success: Meaning, Belonging, and Values

Dave Brubaker says making meaning of life, providing a network of relationships, and transmitting essential values are three essential ways congregations respond to core human needs. These aspects of congregational life are key to success and may help reach “Nones” and others missing from our pews. Meaning making and belonging are core human needs. For parents and others who care…

Leading Ideas
0 The 4 “C’s” of Impactful Leadership

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says that courage, conviction, collaboration, and creativity are four characteristics of effective leadership evident in the powerful legacy of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass. These four “C’s” can also set apart our leadership if we learn to harness their collective power. What sets a great leader apart from others? What are some of the…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways to Lead More Collaboratively

Justin Irving and Mark Strauss write that collaboration is an important factor contributing to effective leadership. Leading with humility, celebrating the contributions of others, and embracing the benefits of teamwork are three key principles vital to more successful organizational leadership. Whether it is engaging a community with shared vision or embracing more team-oriented practices in your organization, fostering collaboration is…

Leading Ideas
0 Nurturing a Dementia-Friendly Church

Bishop Kenneth Carder considers how churches can be in ministry with those with dementia and their families. His practical advice to congregations is informed by his poignant personal journey and his profound reflection on the spiritual aspects of coping with dementia. One of the last words to leave my wife Linda’s vocabulary was church. Each week a couple from the…

Leading Ideas
0 Ways Your Building Can Generate Income and Bless Your Community

Mark DeYmaz writes that churches should leverage their buildings and real estate not just to survive, but to thrive. Using your building more creatively can not only generate income but also expand your presence in the community and bless your neighbors. It’s no secret. Throughout the United States church buildings, parking lots, and real estate sit idle from Sunday to…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading When You Don’t Know the Way

Consultant Susan Beaumont says church leaders need a different set of skills in ambiguous, disorienting periods of transition. In such seasons of change leaders must manage anxiety, embrace the freedom of unknowing, explore new possibilities and avoid acting prematurely. Times of transition are often characterized by a state of ambiguity or disorientation referred to as “liminality.” A person or group…

Leading Ideas
0 The Case for Church Membership

People are less inclined today to join a church than in the past, even if they are interested and involved. But membership still matters, says Jayson Bradley, as it is a proclamation of commitment, belief, mutual support, and a desire to mature as part of a community. Church membership is a concept that some people really struggle with. I can…

Leading Ideas
0 F.I.S.H. Differently! Take Stock of all Available Capital Resources

Sidney Williams says that established congregations seeking to develop transformational ministries must learn to fish differently by taking full advantage of all the capital resources available to them — Faith Capital, Intellectual Capital, Social Capital, and Human Capital. Established congregations face a climate of declining attendance, increased financial pressure, and a growing frustration with the decline in church membership. The…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Disciplines of Teams that Thrive

Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird studied leadership teams in more than 2,500 churches to discover the distinctive features of thriving teams. They found that the key factors in successful teamwork are a shared purpose, leveraging of differences among team members, exercising of leadership through inspiration rather than control, clear decision-making processes, and a culture of ongoing collaboration. Studying more than…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Emerging Trends Impacting Church Life

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe and Associate Director Ann A. Michel reiterate the importance of nine major trends they outlined last year. They also name five other emerging trends ranging from the rise of digital ministry to the waning influence of denominational institutions. Last year, we named some of the major trends shaping the contours of congregational life. (See…

Leading Ideas
0 Get Off to a Great Start with Volunteers in the New Year

Deborah Ike says the fresh start of a new year is a great time to implement strategies to strengthen your volunteer team. Her tips include expressing gratitude, seeking feedback, developing volunteer leaders, and delegating more. There’s something about the start of a new year that invites us to refresh areas of our lives. That could mean initiating a new Bible…

Leading Ideas
0 Top 5 Leading Ideas Articles of the Decade

As a new decade dawns, we look back at the five most-read Leading Ideas articles from 2010-2019. 10 Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah Examining the biblical account of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Lovett H. Weems, Jr., sees a compelling example of how a leader should function. Nehemiah defined the reality of the situation, named a vision, and then engaged…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Ideas: Top Lewis Center Resources of 2019

Lewis Center resources guide you in strengthening your personal leadership and renewing your congregation. Below are our most popular free and purchased resources of the year, plus a free PDF e-book! Year-end Savings Save 25% on video tool kits, video-based study curricula, and PDF e-books with coupon code TOP2019 through January 6, 2020.* Shop now. 50 Ways to Take Church…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Articles of 2019

What Leading Ideas subjects are trending this year? We’ve assembled this list to give you another opportunity to glean insight and inspiration from the authors and articles most popular with our nearly 20,000 subscribers. Top 10 Reasons Visitors Don’t Come Back What do visitors say when asked why they don’t return to a church? Thom Rainer outlines the top 10 responses when…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Make Christmas Eve Hospitality the Pattern for the Year

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says special efforts to welcome visitors at Christmas shouldn’t be set aside once the holiday is over. He outlines four ways the hospitality of the Christmas season can be the launching pad for more intentional visitor welcome throughout the year. In many churches, Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day are the three times of year when…

Leading Ideas
0 Will Your Christmas Visitors Feel Celebrated or Shamed?

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says Christmas visitors can leave feeling shamed or belittled if church insiders project a holier-than-thou attitude. The preparation of Advent, she says, should include prayer about and discernment of how we might reflect the heart of our Father in welcoming all who seek the Christ Child at Christmas. You know what I’m talking…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Help People Cultivate a Heart of Gratitude

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff suggests ways that churches can cultivate an attitude of gratitude — a mindset that makes people more mindful of God’s abundance, more generous, happier, and more content. Giving thanks to God is the most fundamental way we praise and worship God. Cultivating our sense of gratitude deepens our love of God. And acknowledging…

Leading Ideas
0 Unforeseen Leaders Emerge from Charleston Tragedy

Who led members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in their astonishing acts of forgiveness? Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says the spiritual, moral, and pastoral leadership in the months after this tragedy came from faithful Christians who held no formal church leadership roles, yet embodied the cumulative witness of all the church preaches. On June 18, 2015, as soon as I…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways to Lead When the Way Ahead Is Unclear

Susan Beaumont explains that saying, “I don’t know” is not a sign of weakness in a leader. It is an honest acknowledgment that more learning is required before action can be taken. She outlines seven ways to inspire confidence while acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers yet. People look to leaders to fix organizational problems. A leader who…

Leading Ideas
0 What to Do When Volunteers Quit

Deborah Ike says people step away from volunteer positions for various reasons. But regardless of the cause, they need to know the church continues to value them. She offers a three-step formula to respond in a way that is respectful and encourages longer-term retention. It’s that awkward moment you’re always trying to avoid: a volunteer emails you or mentions one…

Leading Ideas
0 How Can Your Church Building Reignite Your Mission?

Krin Van Tatenhove and Rob Mueller remind us that a congregation’s physical assets are resources to be stewarded to advance the kingdom. They recommend examining building users and partnerships to see how they can help reignite your congregation’s mission. Every brick, beam, shingle, stained-glass window, and pew of our buildings came into being through the generous, often sacrificial giving of…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Unhelpful Postures on a Leadership Team

Eric Geiger says a church leadership team’s effectiveness is hampered when members act as consultants, critics, or senators. Each of these postures distances members from owning problems and committing to solutions. Wise leaders long for their teams to be filled with people who assume the posture and attitude of servant, steward, equipper, and executor. When that happens, the whole team…

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