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 Why Attendance and Revenue Figures Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Worship attendance and revenue figures don’t tell the whole story in gauging your church’s effectiveness. Rich Birch suggests some novel indicators that can reveal growth and engagement — from how many gallons of coffee are consumed weekly to the ratio of kids to adults. Too often, church leaders only pay attention to weekend attendance and revenue patterns at their churches.…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Steps to Reengage Your Community

Candace Lewis and Rodney Smothers say that churches must leave their  buildings, identify community needs, and walk alongside neighbors in order to make a difference. They outline seven steps to engage people and the real issues they confront. In many communities, it seems as if a number of traditional churches are disconnected. Many have become like silos. But events emerging…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Leadership Principles from Archbishop Tutu

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe learned through firsthand experience working with Desmond Tutu the key principles of the archbishop’s leadership effectiveness. Powe says Archbishop Tutu was fully present to whomever he was with. He regarded even opponents as children of God. And he remained persistent in the face of problems, large and small. I was fortunate to have served as Archbishop…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Learn to Work with Difficult People

When confronted with a difficult person, do you try to work around them or just complain behind their back? Lewis Center staffer Ann Michel says effective leaders find ways to collaborate with problematic people if their support and help are crucial to their objectives. You know who I’m talking about. The church matriarch who is always questioning your ideas. The…

Leading Ideas
0 Believe in Miracles and Act Accordingly

Research on rapidly growing churches helped Matt Miofsky and Jason Byassee understand that miracles are happening in all our churches and communities all the time. Some churches and church leaders live and work and act like they believe this, and others don’t. This distinction makes all the difference. Talking to pastors of rapidly growing churches, we noticed a pattern. Somewhere,…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Actions Churches Should Take in Light of #MeToo

Phill Martin, a clergy coach and an executive with the National Association of Church Business Administrators, says churches should take proactive steps to protect against the possibility of sexual abuse or misconduct before an incident arises. He says honesty, accountability, and resources can help prevent misconduct. #MeToo, a social media movement that began in November 2017, has ignited awareness of…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Create Accountability for Discipleship

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says it’s common for many individuals within a congregation to be responsible for discipleship. But often, no one person is accountable for it. He suggests having a discipleship coordinator who can help define clearly the meaning of discipleship and integrate it into all areas of church life. Who is accountable for discipleship in your congregation?…

Leading Ideas
0 The Problem with Being Spiritual but Not Religious

Tom Bandy explains that the rise in the number of people who claim to be spiritual but not religious is a manifestation of a larger societal trend to personalize and control the way individuals experience the world. But Bandy maintains that religion can never be personalized because the search for meaning is a shared desire and because control of the…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Goals that Promote Healthy Multicultural Ministry

Drawing on his experience in a cross-racial/cross-cultural ministry setting, Albert Shuler explains that successful multicultural ministry depends on clear goals and objectives. The ultimate goal of creating a healthy interaction between cultures rests on the initial goals of minimizing conflict, recognizing differences, and respecting differences. Nearly everyone in ministry these days is aware of the complex tapestry of cultures that…

Leading Ideas
0 Make Decisions with Your Head but Implement Them with Your Heart

Communication specialist Theodore May explains that the tendency to lead from the heart often impedes rational decision making in churches. But it can be an advantage when it comes to implementing key decisions. Churches, he says, can be particularly effective in creating compelling narratives to generate support for their decisions. In the secular world, leaders are trained to use their…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Keys to Developing Emerging Generation Leaders

Marv Nelson says church leaders are often too quick to dismiss the potential of next generation leaders. To move beyond our own negative stereotypes, we need to invest time in really knowing millennials, equipping them, and believing in them enough to let them take leadership. I’ve heard many church leaders air their frustrations about the millennial generation. Many times, they…

Leading Ideas
0 Choose Your Hills Wisely

Jim Cowart says it’s important to stay focused on the right objectives. Instead of being content with what is, taking on too much, or choosing the wrong battles to fight, good leaders choose carefully the hills they need to conquer. As a leader, you must choose your battles. And you better choose wisely. If you don’t, it can cost you…

Leading Ideas
0 Eliminating the Downward Drag of Ministry Clutter

Michael Kurtz explains that churches are quick to add new programs but slow to eliminate older ones, creating ministry clutter and program overload. Regular pruning is required to regain focus. He outlines three guidelines for deciding where to cut back. Another training workshop, another church program added. Another new idea, another ministry comes on line. Thank God for new ideas!…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Deresolutions to Start the New Year

Mike Bonem says effective leaders are strategic in deciding what not to do. He advocates resolving to drop inconsequential tasks and delegate work peripheral to your core responsibilities as well as tasks that would help other leaders develop. A few weeks into the new year, the majority of people have already broken their New Year resolutions. So, this year, why…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Talks Podcast Episodes of 2018

Leading Ideas Talks podcast debuted in January 2018, providing a new way for Leading Ideas subscribers and other church leaders to learn cutting-edge leadership strategies from some of today’s most relevant thought leaders, including Robert Schnase, Kenneth Carter, Adam Hamilton, Ginger-Gaines Cirelli, and Olu Brown. These 10 episodes, hosted by Lewis Center Director Doug Powe and Associate Director Ann Michel,…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Articles of 2018

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. 4 Reasons Visitors Do Not Return Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says it’s important not only to attract visitors, but to create a space where they will…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Characteristics of Biblical Evangelism

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says biblical evangelism is characterized by four key practices — proclamation, community, service, and witness. Focusing on these practices can demystify the concept of evangelism and strengthen a congregation’s evangelistic efforts. Many churches struggle with evangelism. For some, evangelism is an important objective, but the methods of pursuing it are vague or ineffective. For others,…

Leading Ideas
0 Room at the Inn

Doug Ruffle, who once served as a missionary in Argentina, shares the heartwarming story of a Christmas pageant that went off script, yet captured the true meaning of Christmas. It invites us to make room for the Christ Child in our lives. As a missionary in Argentina, I served Peace Community Church in Rosaria. It was an intimate community of…

Leading Ideas
0 Biblical Leadership: Not as Simple as You Think

Denise Dombkowski Hopkins, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Wesley Theological Seminary, says we often see biblical leadership in one-dimensional or overly idealized ways. Her more nuanced view of several common images of biblical leadership can inform a more robust and realistic concept of our own leadership challenges. When we look to the Bible for leadership advice, it’s easy to…

Leading Ideas
0 A Gracious Invitation to Generosity

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says inviting people to participate in the generosity of God can be a gracious way to initiate conversations about giving. Stewardship and tithing are important concepts, but too often they are heard as thinly veiled euphemisms for church fundraising. In many churches, the conversation around money and giving relies heavily on the vocabulary…

Leading Ideas
0 Worship Under the Bridge

Bishop Robert Schnase tells the story of a Texas congregation sharing worship with its homeless neighbors in relational and empowering ways. This powerful example of risk-taking mission began with the simple desire to learn about people’s circumstances and ask, “What do you need?” Two people, a married couple, actively belonging to a faith community in New Braunfels, Texas, began to…

Leading Ideas
0 Never Fail to Attend Because You Can’t Contribute

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains that while only a few members of your church may be currently experiencing hard times, most of the others live with the reality that they could face hard times some day. And they will feel better about giving to a church that acknowledges that reality. The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are often filled, as they…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Welcoming Strategies that Can Backfire

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says that churches sometimes reach out to newcomers in ways that are off-putting or even counterproductive. Unfortunately, several common, well-intended welcoming strategies top the list of things that can make visitors uncomfortable or even turn them away. 1. Asking visitors to introduce themselves in worship It’s common practice in many churches to ask…

Leading Ideas
0 People Give to People

Stewardship consultant J. Clif Christopher says relationship building is the key factor in encouraging donors to give. And while pastors often shy away from talking about money, Christopher says people of faith want and need counsel on how a disciple uses money. I visited one time with a very active church member. He had recently made two gifts. One was…

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