Browsing: 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 7 Strategies to Master Meetings

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says church meetings should be holy ground where the Spirit can act because the people of God are gathered in common purpose. She offers seven simple strategies for making meetings more positive and productive. Most church leaders see meetings as an inevitable but regrettable part of church life. But if we really believe…

Leading Ideas
0 The Good Neighbor Church

Sue Nilson Kibbey, who works with missional church initiatives in Ohio, shares the story of a church that engaged the mission field immediately around its building by forming a “Good Neighbor” team. The team’s sole purpose was to get acquainted with every person or family within sight of their church building. A congregation nestled comfortably in the midst of a…

Leading Ideas
0 Using Your Building Assets

Rosario Picardo says unused building space can be a goldmine of opportunity if a church has eyes to see how their space could be used creatively to reach the community and make ministry happen. A church’s property is one of its greatest assets. How many times have you driven by a church building during the week and seen an empty…

Leading Ideas
0 Digital Transitions When Pastors Change

In our modern digital world, pastors and congregations have more things than ever to consider when facing a pastoral transition. Will Rice explains how with a little planning, websites, emails, data storage, and other digital platforms can be maintained with integrity through the change of clergy leadership. Comings and goings in a digital age can be a complex affair. Some…

Leading Ideas
0 Why First Impressions Really Do Matter

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says people’s first impressions are often shaped by assumptions and stereotypes. And the early information we get about a person influences how we interpret and remember later information, simply because in dealing with so much input our minds default to cognitive shortcuts. One spring day a few years ago, a graduating student stopped by my office…

Leading Ideas
0 Four Key Challenges in Pastoral Transitions

What challenges are most commonly faced when pastors move from one ministry setting to the next? Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says four key challenges are dealing with family and emotional issues, paving the way for one’s successor, understanding the culture of the new ministry context, and saying goodbye in a way that provides closure. Despite the prevalence of pastoral moves,…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways to Turn Your Church Inside-Out

To connect with people, you need to meet them where they are, says Ben Ingebretson, the director of new church development for the Dakotas and Minnesota Conferences of the UMC. He offers six practical ways you can air out your church by taking your ministry into public spaces. For the past month, I have been meeting with 18 other people…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Key Questions for Fundraising with Spiritual Integrity

How can we raise money with spiritual integrity? Anyone who wants their work in cultivating generosity to reflect the gospel needs to wrestle with seven key questions from Peter Harris and Rod Wilson’s book Keeping Faith in Fundraising. Ministry takes money. So, there is no shame in encouraging others to give to support vital Christian works through fundraising. If you…

Leading Ideas
0 Status, Ambition, and the Way of Jesus

Craig Hill, dean of Perkins School of Theology, says that ambition and the desire for status are wholly natural, yet like other natural desires they are inherently ambiguous and must be kept in check. He says the most common strategy employed by the New Testament authors in response to conflicts over status was an appeal to the example of Jesus.…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Congregational Engagement in a Church-School Partnership

Jake McGlothin, author of The Mission-Minded Guide to Church and School Partnerships, explains how compelling messages that align your congregation’s vision to the task of forming a school partnership and simple recruitment ideas will harness the resources needed to serve children in your community. Creating and maintaining a great church-school partnership can be challenging. But there are resources in your…

Leading Ideas
0 The Challenges and Opportunities of Intergenerational Leadership

Due to longevity, it’s not uncommon for four distinct generations of adults to be vying for leadership within our churches, says Melissa Cooper. She explores how the church can be a place of unity and reconciliation that uses the gifts of every generation. In the 21st century, the church is facing a new challenge. Just a century ago, average life…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Questions to Ask When Starting a Youth Ministry

What’s the first step in starting a youth ministry? Brad Fiscus says it’s to get all the stakeholders — youth, their parents, other adults, and key leader — to discuss possibilities and frame a vision. He suggests seven questions to frame the conversation. OK, let’s say you have passionate adults and you’ve got some young people. You’re probably wondering where to start.…

Leading Ideas
0 What’s Your Goal for Visitor Follow-Up?

Lovett H. Weems, Jr. says the traditional approach to visitor follow-up aimed at moving people quickly toward membership may not fit well in an era when people are hesitant to join anything. An alternative approach is to engage newcomers around the goal of enhancing their spiritual development. Most churches have follow-up systems in place for first-time guests. If the visitor…

Leading Ideas
0 Relationships Are Important to Vitality

Bonnie Marden explores the importance of relationships to congregational vitality, and she suggests key questions for assessing the strength of relationships that undergird a congregation’s ministry. The strength and quality of relationships within a congregation is strongly connected to vitality and growth. Healthy relationships are motivating. They support networks that undergird amazing ministry and missions, whereas broken relationships and unresolved…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Master the Art of Asking

Learning how to be effective in asking others to support your ministry is a key to fruitful leadership, says Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff. She provides ten practical tips from her new book Synergy that will enhance your volunteer recruitment and fundraising. Whether you’re recruiting Sunday school teachers, amping up your praise team, or raising funds to support…

Leading Ideas
0 What Church Leaders Need to Know About Grants and Crowdfunding

Many churches need to think more creatively about funding their ministries in today’s environment. Church planter and consultant Rosario Picardo provides tips and resources for those interested in exploring the potential of grants and crowdfunding. Grants are often a mystery for churches and are overlooked as a potential funding source for new projects or programs. While it is true that…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Strengthen Relations with Police and Public Safety Officials

Baltimore pastor Dr. C. Anthony Hunt says congregations need to work proactively to strengthen community relations and build trust with police and public officials. He provides ten suggestions for strengthening these critical relationships in the wake of recent police-involved shootings and violence toward police. One key to a church’s vitality is the quality of the relationships it establishes with a…

Leading Ideas
0 Doing Mission Fundraising Well

Do you wish your church could do more to support mission? Pastor Lisa Kipp gives tips for how special fundraising for mission can be done effectively to enhance stewardship and increase a congregation’s overall mission giving. Several years ago, our congregation decided to try an experiment. We wondered what might happen if we held specific fundraisers through the year for…

Leading Ideas
0 The Importance of Why

Healthy churches know why they do what they do, says pastor and author Graham Standish. When what we do is based on a clear why, we act with purpose. When we don’t know why we do what we do, we lose focus. Why do some churches flourish and others struggle? Those that flourish generally know why they do what they…

Leading Ideas
0 Effective Church Websites

Web designer and consultant Scott Dixon shares tips for designing a good church website. He says three traits are essential — great content, good design, and easy navigation. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked “What makes a good website?” Or, better yet, “What can I do to make my website better?” I’ve learned there are three essential traits…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Things Preachers Should Never Say

Many preachers shoot themselves in the foot when they start off with hackneyed or formulaic phrases that fail to capture the fleeting attention of those in the pew.  Charley Reeb, a Florida pastor known as a gifted preacher, outlines nine opening lines that good preachers avoid. Preaching is challenging. When someone suggested to Winston Churchill that he ought to put…

Leading Ideas
0 How Best to Use Overflow Worship Space on Easter

Tom Berlin describes strategies for encouraging your regular attenders to worship in overflow spaces outside the sanctuary when additional seating is needed on Easter so that visitors will feel welcome and have a quality worship experience. Increased worship attendance on Easter Sunday requires some churches to set up spaces beyond the sanctuary for overflow seating. Sometimes this is space just…

Leading Ideas
0 Blessing Boxes Energize Churches to Meet Needs

The idea of a Blessing Box, shared widely on social media, has inspired many congregations to take direct action to meet community needs. Amy Forbus describes how Blessing Boxes have energized churches in the Arkansas Conference of the UMC to provide for their neighbors in creative, participatory ways. The concept is simple: Stock a container with nonperishable food items, toiletries…

Leading Ideas
0 Keychain Leadership

One core commitment that can help a congregation engage younger people is a willingness to entrust teens and emerging adults with the “keys” to real influence and agency by giving away access, power, and responsibility. The authors of Growing Young call this empowering style of leadership “keychain leadership.” Is leadership style a critical variable in helping a church reach younger…

Leading Ideas
0 The Leader as Communicator

Effective leaders are good communicators, according to Lovett H. Weems, Jr. They understand the importance of all forms of communication and that communication is always two-way, receiving as well as giving information and feelings. One study of leadership analyzed how leaders spend their days, concluding “for formal leaders in organizations … the world consists of many activities (most of them…

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