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 The Art of Forging a Meaningful Consensus

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says that unanimity is not required for a group to move forward. Good leaders drive consensus by extracting different opinions and views, listening carefully for threads of agreement, and then clarifying a way forward. We’ve all been in church groups that meet regularly but never seem to get anything done. Groups that discuss…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Culture

How can you cultivate a creative spirit that will carry your ministry beyond the pandemic? Phil Cooke describes 10 ways to nurture a culture that embraces new vision and potential. It’s no secret that culture is more important than vision. I’ve worked in creative, vibrant cultures where original thinking is valued, people listen to one another, and wonderful things happen.…

Leading Ideas
0 A Transformational Approach to Church Finance

How can church leaders approach stewardship and finance in ways that inspire generosity and encourage the sound use of church resources? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe speaks with Lovett H. Weems Jr. and Ann A. Michel about their new book Generosity, Stewardship, and Abundance: A Transformational Guide to Church Finances. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Doug Powe: A lot of…

Leading Ideas
0 A Biblical Perspective on Trauma

What is trauma? And how can congregations be a space of healing for the traumatized? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe interviews Paul Cho, a professor of Hebrew Bible, on the nature of trauma and how Scripture is a resource for congregations journeying alongside the traumatized. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Doug Powe: You teach on trauma. Can you share…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Simple Steps to Launch a Planned Giving Program

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center says this could be a now-or-never stewardship moment for congregations whose pews are full of older adults. She outlines six simple steps for launching a planned giving program to help this generation faithfully steward their lifetime assets. Those born between 1946 and 1964 (baby boomers) are the richest generation in the nation’s history. They…

Leading Ideas
0 Now is the Time for Risk-taking Leadership

During the pandemic, many leaders were concerned primarily with avoiding risk. Bill Wilson says we are now entering a time in the life of the American church that cries out for creative risk taking that puts aside personal preferences for the sake of the gospel. For many of us, the past year has been the challenge of a lifetime in…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Dos and Don’ts to Make the Most of Your Digital Worship

Tim Snyder of the Lewis Center staff suggests it’s a good time for congregations to reassess their approach to online worship. He offers five “dos and don’ts” for churches looking to make digital worship a permanent element of their ministry. With a year or more of digital ministry under their belts, many congregations are reexamining their online worship with an…

Leading Ideas
0 Failing Creatively

Eileen Campbell-Reed explains how failure is an essential step on the path to mastering the art of ministry leadership. New leaders need to give themselves permission to fail and find spaces where they will be supported as they master the complex skill of wise pastoral practice. Failure. It is one of those words that is big and scary, and we…

Leading Ideas
0 Tackling Tough Topics in Church

Do you long for church to be a place where people can discuss real life challenges openly and honestly? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews pastor and author Elizabeth Hagan on what it takes to be a “brave church” willing to tackle tough but important subjects. Ann Michel: In many congregations there’s a “cone of silence” around certain…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Unique Gifts of the Rural Church

Allen Stanton says rural churches are uniquely positioned to be agents of change within their communities. Most are trusted long-term community stakeholders, and on any given Sunday people from a wide range of occupations and life circumstances are sitting in their pews. Rural churches often have several strengths that are relatively unique to their own social and geographic locations and…

Leading Ideas
0 From Online Worship to Online Ministry

Kay Kotan says many churches embraced online worship out of necessity during the pandemic without deliberate plans for engaging new people through online ministry. Now is the time to consider how to engage new digital worshipers more fully through intentional welcome, relational connections, and opportunities for Christian formation. When the pandemic hit, local churches had to make a fast and…

Leading Ideas
0 Preaching Strategies for a Post-Pandemic Church

New preaching strategies are needed to engage emerging generations in the digital age. Michael Beck and Rosario Picardo say sermons in the post-pandemic church will likely be shorter, more conversational and interactive, and less reliant on a single voice. One major gift the pandemic provided was an opportunity to rethink the preparation and delivery of sermons. In Protestant churches the…

Leading Ideas
0 Do You View Your Church as an Organization or a Movement?

Sue Nilson Kibbey says churches often focus so much on organizational maintenance that they lose sight of the church’s ultimate spiritual mission. She challenges us to think about whether we operate with the mindset of an organization or a movement intent on transforming the world. Reflect on your own church right now — whether you are a pastor, staff person,…

Leading Ideas
0 Coaching Leaders and Congregations to Reach their Full Potential

How can you connect the dots between where your church needs to be headed and the steps needed to get there? Doug Powe interviews Chris Holmes on how coaching can help leaders draw on their own resourcefulness and creativity to move a congregation forward. Doug Powe: I think people sometimes aren’t quite sure what coaching is. What is the difference between…

Leading Ideas
0 Leveraging Church Property Can Sustain Your Mission

Lovett H. Weems Jr. and Ann A. Michel say exploring additional uses of church buildings and property is an exercise in prudent stewardship. Many churches can find new resources to support their mission by taking stock of physical assets and thinking creatively about their use. Churches give great attention to how they spend their money to support their mission. Likewise,…

Leading Ideas
0 What Excuse Do You Have for Not Delegating More?

Mike Bonem says that the simple solution to ministry leaders feeling overloaded and overwhelmed is to delegate more. Our most common excuses for failing to delegate don’t really stand up. The key is clarity around what tasks can and cannot be shared. I lost count a long time ago of the number of coaching conversations in which I heard, “I’m…

Leading Ideas
0 What Approach to Digital Worship is Best for Your Church?

Tim Snyder of the Lewis Center staff outlines the pluses and minuses of two platforms commonly used for digital worship — broadcast platforms and video conferencing. Each has its own logic, possibilities, and limitations that must be considered in deciding what is right in your setting. Churches most commonly use one of two basic platforms for digital worship. Some use…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Rules for Engaging Taboo Subjects in Churches

Are certain topics off limits in your church? If so, people may feel their real-life problems and concerns simply aren’t welcome in the church. Elizabeth Hagan suggests five rules for engaging tough topics bravely, honestly and openly. I grew up in a church that never felt real. We talked about God, Jesus, and facts of Bible stories. We talked about…

Leading Ideas
0 Imagining a Hybrid Future

How can a church develop hybrid ministry that connects both with those in the room and those who will never enter your church building? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Rosario Picardo, one of the authors of a new book on ministry in the digital age. They discuss how churches can continue to develop online ministry while resuming…

Leading Ideas
0 Understanding the Nones

What accounts for the rapid increase in the percentage of Americans who claim no religious preference? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff shares key findings from Ryan P. Burge’s recent book The Nones. A notable shift in the religious landscape over the past 40 years has been the rise of the “Nones.” This informal term denotes those who check…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Help God’s People Take the Next Faithful Step

Scott Cormode says you can’t approach complex leadership challenges with a preformulated, step-by-step plan. When facing complex and unpredictable challenges, a Christian leader’s responsibility is to help people take the next faithful step. Most people want the wrong things from a leader. I remember talking with a committee that was getting ready to interview candidates to be the president of…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways Churches Can Play a Critical Role in Vaccination Efforts

Asa J. Lee of Wesley Theological Seminary shares key learnings from a recent event at the Washington National Cathedral which highlighted the critical role churches can play in encouraging vaccinations and fighting the coronavirus. The Washington National Cathedral recently partnered with the nation’s top health agencies to host an event focused on the important role churches and religious organizations play…

Leading Ideas
0 Do You Need a Mission Statement for Your Post-Pandemic Transition Plan?

As congregations plan for a future with fewer pandemic-related restrictions, Lovett H. Weems Jr. says they need a standard for assessing various options. Without a clear connection to your primary mission your transition plan could easily be hijacked by those pushing hardest for their point of view or what neighboring churches are doing. Churches have spent the entire last year,…

Leading Ideas
0 Understanding Generation Z and Connecting with Their Passions

What are the unique characteristics of young people coming of age today? Rock Jones, president of Ohio Wesleyan University, describes a generation of digital natives who are highly connected but also lonely and anxious. Dr. Jones describes Gen Zers’ life questions, the perspectives they bring to spiritual engagement, and ways church leaders can meet them where they are. Listen to…

Leading Ideas
0 What’s Wrong with Thinking of Church as Family?

Lee Ann M. Pomrenke says the beloved metaphor of church as family can stand in the way of a congregation being truly open and inclusive. The church is a movement defined by shared values, commitments, and actions, not a household family linked by a shared heritage or appearances. “This church is like a family.” We say it like it is…

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