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 Audiences for Digital Engagement

Jessica L. Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff shares how congregations can begin to reach four groups of people through ministry on digital platforms. As congregations continue to engage in ministry on digital platforms, we have a tremendous opportunity to witness to new groups of people. In Your Church Can Thrive, Harold Percy identifies four main groups of people that…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways to Reengage Volunteers

Whether it’s due to post-pandemic fatigue, lingering health concerns, or broader cultural shifts, volunteerism hasn’t bounced back as readily as other aspects of congregational life. Susan Beaumont outlines seven ways to revitalize volunteer engagement. The church is a volunteer organization. Even the most staff-driven congregations rely on volunteers to make ministry work. The pandemic has impacted volunteerism profoundly in ways…

Leading Ideas
0 Church Comes Home

The pandemic taught us that church happens in powerful and meaningful ways outside our buildings. Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Dave Barnhart, author of Church Comes Home, on how small, home-centered worshiping communities can connect with people who may never cross the threshold of your church building. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or…

Leading Ideas
0 Creatively Engaging Your Community While Remaining True to Who You Are

Vital churches find new and creative ways to engage their neighbors. But that doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the best of what your church has always been. Paul Nixon explains how churches can adapt their strengths to engage their neighbors in authentic ways. Prioritizing community needs in your ministry plan does not always mean letting go of the life-giving practices your…

Leading Ideas
0 Telling Your Faith Story

Sharing faith stories nurtures an awareness of how God is working among us. Harold Percy outlines two simple approaches to sharing faith stories that can encourage people to consider and share how faith has shaped their lives. Churches seeking to develop a witnessing and inviting membership should make a point of encouraging their members to tell their faith stories to…

Leading Ideas
0 How Has COVID-19 Impacted Religious Participation?

Amy Kubichek of the Lewis Center staff shares Pew Research Center findings on how COVID-19 has impacted religious participation. As of March 2022, 90% of congregations had resumed in-person worship services, but only two-thirds of those who typically worship at least once a month have attended in person. Twenty-one percent are worshiping only online or on TV, and half of…

Leading Ideas
0 Fruitful Meetings Are About the Right Questions

Blake Bradford describes how framing meeting agendas around critical questions promotes engagement, innovation, and discernment. Excellent questions focus the power of the group’s gathered wisdom, rather than expecting the group to rubber stamp preformulated plans and solutions. I know well the admonition from Lovett Weems: “Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions.” While this will take…

Leading Ideas
0 Normalizing Next

How can church leaders embrace rather than fear the future? Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe interviews Olu Brown on how leaders can “normalize next” and begin living their future now by engaging innovative thinking, creative partnerships, and hybrid strategies to fulfill their mission. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Douglas Powe: While most…

Leading Ideas
0 Evangelism: A Witness to Love Not a Dirty Word

Our understanding and practice of evangelism are too often captive to stereotypes and false perceptions. Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe Jr. says we can redeem evangelism by moving beyond evangelism as marketing or manipulation to reclaim a Jesus-inspired vision of evangelism: witnessing to God’s transforming love in authentic ways. Do people in your church avert their eyes or run…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Signs You’re Doing Online Ministry Right

Successful online ministry requires a new mindset and different metrics. Carey Nieuwhof outlines five signs indicating that your online ministry is connecting with people and helping them grow in faith, rather than just advertising what happens in your building. For most leaders, online church is something they’re still getting used to, trying to figure out, and attempting to master with…

Leading Ideas
0 Making Your Ministry Present in Its Physical Space

Does your church building express your congregation’s values and invite others to explore what you do? Does it communicate the gospel? Travis Norvell explains how your church’s physical presence in the neighborhood is a tool for communicating its mission and identity. City-neighborhood churches have an advantage over suburban and exurban megachurches: foot traffic. When you drive past a building at…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Key Lessons for Vital Small Church Ministry

David Gilmore says the size of a congregation need not be a determining factor in its ability to connect with its neighbors. Small congregations who are intentional about finding their niche, empowering laity, focusing outward, and collaborating can be just as vital as larger congregations. Size would seemingly dictate the ability of a congregation to do missional ministry. But the…

Leading Ideas
0 Resurrection as a Call to Action

Many congregations that haven’t celebrated Easter in person since 2019 are relishing the joy of returning to the comforts of pre-pandemic church life. But Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says we can’t allow our Easter celebrations to divert attention from the challenge of renewing the church. Drawing on the biblical narrative, she writes that Easter is not an…

Leading Ideas
0 Positioning Your Church for Growth in a New Season of Ministry

How can your church reach new people in today’s evolving ministry context? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Tony Morgan, chief strategist for The Unstuck Group, about trends, perspectives, and strategies drawn from his work with scores of congregations across the country and abroad. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Ann Michel:…

Leading Ideas
0 Ten Traits of Jesus as Transformational Leader

This article was originally published on September 2, 2015. When studying the subject of transformational leadership, we should take a look at our own leader, Christ Jesus. He is the one who can best speak to the issue of leadership. Here are ten traits of Jesus, the transformational leader. As you read over the descriptions, take time to assess your…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Critical Areas of Support for Virtual Worship

Olu Brown says virtual church has a specific set of needs whether it is part of a hybrid worship or a stand-alone worship service for streaming only. He outlines four core areas critical to formulating a successful virtual worship experience — team, technology, planning, and hospitality. 1. Online worship team Identify the staff and volunteers that will comprise your team…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Vibrant Community Connections in Digital and Physical Spaces

How can your congregation connect with new people in both physical and digital spaces? Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe Jr. interviews Jordana Wright on strategies for transforming congregations into vibrant community hubs. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Douglas Powe: Before we delve too deeply into our subject, can you share a little…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Limit the Celebration of Easter to Just One Sunday?

David Manner says that many churches attract new attendees with the lure of Easter but then quickly leave the subject. He asks, if Easter really is the foundation of our faith, why do we limit its celebration to just one Sunday? We’ve all seen social media hyperlinks that entice readers to click on an advertisement or website by using a…

Leading Ideas
0 Key Considerations When Leasing Building Space to Outside Groups

Domenic Dutra says not every potential lessee makes a good partner. He lists critical questions and consideration for any congregation considering renting space in their building that promote a fruitful relationship. Leasing space in your building could give your church new life. But it could also be part of your slow, painful death. Let me explain. While churches should seek…

Leading Ideas
0 Change and the Small Church

Roy L. Spore believes that decline and death are not inevitable for smaller rural churches. While smaller churches are often skeptical of change imposed from the outside, many find new life and energy for ministry when a new vision emerges from within the congregation itself. Countless studies of the local church in today’s society bear out a profound truth: churches…

Leading Ideas
0 Keeping Your Meetings from Getting Stuck in the Weeds

Blake Bradford outlines strategies to make sure your meetings stay focused and productive. They include practicing mutual accountability, managing time carefully, and having a clear decision-making process for each agenda item. I am emphatic in my belief that “meetings are not ministry.” But this does not mean that meetings don’t matter. Gathering in person or online for meetings is crucial.…

Leading Ideas
0 How a Creative, Justice-Oriented Stations of the Cross Called a Community to Action

Jessica L. Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff reports on one congregation’s unique approach to sharing the Stations of the Cross and the Stations of the Resurrection with its community and beyond. This creative, lay-led effort offers an example of sharing the Good News in visible, justice-oriented ways. Last year, as the worship team at New Paltz United Methodist Church…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Keys to Moving from Online Worship to Online Ministry

Nicole Reilley says posting worship services online is just the first step in developing a holistic online ministry. She enumerates four keys to developing a digital ministry that engages people and moves them toward Christ and his church. Many of us think that we offer online ministry when we post our worship service on Facebook or YouTube. After all, we…

Leading Ideas
0 Anti-Racism 4 Reals

How can church leaders counter racism in real time? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff interviews Sheila Beckford about strategies for equipping church leaders to do the hard work of anti-racism to bring about real change. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Jessica Anschutz: Your book, Anti-Racism 4REALS offers real action steps for…

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