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 Does an Aging Population Explain High Clergy Ages?

For most traditions, the disproportionate aging of clergy is a crucial challenge. Lovett H. Weems Jr. highlights some of the findings in the National Congregations Study (NCS) and names some of the challenges facing denominations today. A significant concern within many faith communities in recent years has been the increasing age of clergy in the United States. Such increases in…

Leading Ideas
0 Still Fewer Young United Methodist Elders in 2022

Lovett H. Weems Jr. reports that the declining number of young elders in the United Methodist Church has accelerated while the number of young deacons increased. The number of young clergy continues to be a cause for concern. For seventeen years, the Lewis Center for Church Leadership has issued annual reports on clergy age trends in the United Methodist Church.…

Leading Ideas
0 The Messy Art of Leading Change: An In-Depth Interview with Mike Bonem

How can you lead effectively given the inherent messiness of congregational life? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews leadership expert Mike Bonem on the art of leading change, responding to those who resist change, and the courage to allow yourself to be changed. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Ann Michel: In…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Leadership Shifts for the Current Reality

Olu Brown says that a new paradigm of leadership is required given the challenges of the present age. Church leaders need to shift the conversation from problems to promise, shift their outlook from church to community, and shift the momentum by believing that miracles can occur.  As a leader in this present age, your world and the people you lead…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Excellence in Ministry Matters

Michael White and Tom Corcoran say excellence in ministry is essential to capturing the time and attention of your congregation and community. More importantly, it honors God, inspires people, builds trust, and rebuilds the church.  Everybody has had the experience of going to a play, a movie, or a concert and being blown away by the production. We’ve all dined…

Leading Ideas
0 Ministering to Congregants Who Haven’t Returned Post-COVID-19

One in every three churchgoers has not returned to in-person worship services since the pandemic. Tricia K. Brown offers ideas for ministering to members of your congregation who have not yet returned to in-person worship.   According to Barna research, about one in every three churchgoers has not returned to in-person worship services since COVID-19 shutdowns ended. With that in mind, here are…

Leading Ideas
0 Developing New Leaders through Shared Leadership

How can shared leadership develop the next generation of leaders? Lee Kricher explores the importance of shared leadership when developing a pipeline of new leaders. During my early years of pastoral ministry at Amplify Church, developing other leaders was not a priority. I was a very different kind of pastor during my second tenure as pastor, to a great degree…

Leading Ideas
0 Finding Sanctuary: Ministries with Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers | An In-Depth Interview with Elizabeth Shulman

How can congregations support persons with dementia and their caregivers? Jessica Anschutz interviews Elizabeth Shulman, who offers an organic, three-part program to aid congregations in creating ministries to meet the needs of persons with dementia and their caregivers. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Jessica Anschutz: I invite you to start off by sharing…

Leading Ideas
0 Moving Beyond a Congregational Identity Crisis

Asking “Who are we?” helps congregations gain clarity in the midst of an identity crisis. Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe Jr. offers three priorities for congregations to move forward. It seems strange to ask the question, “Who are we?” Yet, this is precisely the question many congregations need to consider since what it means to be a church has…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Good Questions to Assess Your Volunteer Teams

Are your ministry teams reaching their full potential? Dan Reiland shares five good questions for assessing the health and productivity of volunteer teams.   If your church’s staff and key leaders have been impacted by the realities of the past couple of years, your volunteers have been affected too. Be careful not to be so consumed with the pressure to…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Tips for Making Your Next Retreat a Real Retreat

Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff offers tips for planning relaxing, spiritually renewing retreats. Use these seven tips to ensure your next retreat is meaningful for all participants. Prior to entering the ordination process, I experienced retreats that were relaxing, spiritually renewing, restful, and fun experiences that offered a break from the daily grind. Since then, I have experienced…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Church Truly Embrace Children or Merely Tolerate Them?

Sam Rainer says that families visiting your church know instinctively whether you sincerely welcome the presence of their children or just tolerate them. He outlines six perspectives and practices that signal to families that their children are truly valued, welcomed, and included.   There are two kinds of restaurants. Those that embrace children, and those that tolerate children. If you’re a…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Encourage People to Increase Their Giving

Stewardship expert Rev. Charles Cloughen Jr. outlines five proven strategies to help people grow in giving and strive toward the tithe. Key factors include helping your givers see an increase as reasonable and doable by asking for a specific amount and leveraging the power of relationships through a personal ask and thank you.  I believe that giving to God’s work…

Leading Ideas
0 Know What Season You’re In

Michael White and Tom Corcoran say people in your community are influenced less by the liturgical season and more by cultural seasons that define the rhythms of their lives. Church leaders need to understand how the school calendar, recreational activities, major sporting events, and secular holidays shape church attendance and where people are emotionally and intellectually.  It is definitely an…

Leading Ideas
0 Every Church is a Work in Progress

Is your church imperfect? Youth ministry expert Deech Kirk says “welcome to the club.” Successful church leaders need to accept that every church is a work in progress and that building healthy, sustainable, thriving ministries takes time, hard work, and patience.   Every church is a work in progress. That realization has led me to believe that working at the church…

Leading Ideas
0 Evangelism Insights from The Methodist Church in Britain: An In-Depth Interview with Trey Hall

What can we learn about congregational revitalization, Fresh Expressions, and evangelism from the Methodist Church in Britain? Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe Jr. interviews Trey Hall, a Methodist pioneer, church planting strategist, and evangelist. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Douglas Powe: Can you share a bit about your professional journey and how…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Your Stewardship Team

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says forming a lay-led stewardship team is key to a successful stewardship campaign and to fostering a culture of generosity within your church. She outlines the need, benefits, and implementation steps for creating such a group. Who’s responsible in your church for cultivating generosity and encouraging people to give? In many churches the…

Leading Ideas
0 Doing Planning Differently

What if you focused on making already-planned ministry events better rather than creating new events? Olu Brown offers three planning strategies for Doing Church Differently™ and returning to simplicity. At Impact Church, we trademarked the term Doing Church Differently™. Currently, we are saying Doing Planning Differently because there is little that is the same compared to our plans before COVID-19.…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Hospitality and Stewardship Lessons from a Homecoming

How are visitors to your congregation greeted and welcomed? Ken Sloane outlines five lessons for extending hospitality and engaging new givers.  While traveling earlier this year, I had the opportunity to worship at the church where I grew up. As I drove to the church, I began to think about the impact it had on my family growing up and…

Leading Ideas
0 Getting Beyond Ministry Burnout and Tiredness

Tiredness and burnout in church leadership occur primarily because leaders over-function, micromanage, or are placed in roles that do not use their God-given spiritual gifts. Jaye Johnson says the antidote is to reclaim the passion that comes when one leads out of one’s own unique giftedness.   I run into many church leaders, clergy and laity, who tell me they are…

Leading Ideas
0 Church on the Move

How can your church reorient its posture toward its neighbors and neighborhood? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff interviews Minnesota pastor Travis Norvell on his decision to conduct his ministry by bike, on foot, and on public transportation, and how it revealed new people, new partners, and new possibilities for ministry. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on…

Leading Ideas
0 One Invitation Away from Returning

Are there folks in your church who got out of the habit of attending during the pandemic and haven’t returned yet? Rebekah Simon-Peter says that one sincere, guilt-free invitation might be all that is needed to get them back. The common wisdom is that a church only has three weeks to connect with people who are absent. After that, they’ve…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Essential Elements of Fruitful Small Groups

What are the essential elements of a fruitful small group? Scott Hughes names and explains six elements that characterize effective small groups — prayer and scripture, Bible study, accountability, nurture and care, mission, and covenant. 1. Prayer and scripture The two most obvious elements of a small group are the spiritual practices of prayer and reading scripture. Unfortunately, prayer can…

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