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 A New Start in Lent

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says that congregations, as well as individuals, can make a new start during Lent by giving up some things, like fear or lethargy, or taking up other things, like risk and new rhythms. Typically, we think of Lent and Ash Wednesday as times of individual soul searching. Lent is a time for each of…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Ways Leaders Can Promote Faithful Stewardship

Leadership is a critical factor in nurturing a culture of generous giving, says Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff. She names the nine key leadership practices that help to promote a climate of faithful stewardship within a congregation. Many factors come into play in nurturing a congregational culture of responsible stewardship. But leadership is undoubtedly one critical factor. Teaching…

Leading Ideas
0 Engaging Millennials in Small Groups Requires Constant Adaptation

In his book The Kaleidoscope Effect, Scott Chrostek says permanent, static programming doesn’t work with emerging generations. He describes how Resurrection Downtown in Kansas City has succeeded in drawing Millennials into small groups by constantly adapting their approach. The Millennials I meet aren’t necessarily looking for the church to have a place to worship, receive the sacraments, and grow in…

Leading Ideas
0 Closing a Congregation as an Act of Faithfulness

Minnesota Pastor Lee Ann Pomrenke reflects on the painful reality of having to bring a congregation or a ministry to an end. While there is a tendency to see closure as a failure and assign blame, she considers how closing a congregation can be an act of faithfulness and responsible stewardship that can open the way to new life. The…

Leading Ideas
0 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 want to stay. Congregations wondering why their visitors don’t return need to honestly assess how they respond to visitors and what their church has to offer. It is not unusual to hear a parishioner say, “We are a…

Leading Ideas
0 Accountability Without Control

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains that in these times, when church leaders can rely less on structure and hierarchy to undergird their authority, accountability flows from faithfulness to mission, vision, and values, not hierarchical control. Rosabeth Moss Kanter speaks of a new kind of leader. These new leaders must learn to operate “without the might of hierarchy behind them.” The…

Leading Ideas
0 When a Pastor Serves a Church of a Different Racial or Cultural Background

Unique challenges arise when a church is served by a pastor from a different racial or cultural background or as it struggles to engage a changing community. Jasmine Smothers, the first African American lead pastor of First Atlanta United Methodist Church, shares her perspectives on ministry in cross-cultural settings. Congregations and pastors often struggle in cross-cultural ministry settings for the…

Leading Ideas
0 How to do Short-Term Missions the Right Way

Dan Wunderlich says that mission trips can be life-changing mission endeavors, but they also raise serious issues and questions. He names a series of considerations for churches that want to do short-term missions well. Short-term mission trips, particularly international trips, can be faith-deepening and even life-changing. They offer experiences we might never have back home, and they are a way…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Building Impeding Your Mission?

Evangelism professor Mark Teasdale writes that, while a church building demands respect, too many congregations let upkeep of their facilities become more important than serving God’s purposes. Churches need to be open to renting, selling, or redesigning buildings to further God’s mission. Church buildings are more than just brick, mortar, wood, nails, and shingles. They are holy ground. Even though…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Engage Busy People

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe suggests strategies that can make it possible for those with significant time constraints to serve as church leaders — not merely to meet the church’s leadership needs but to help the individual know the satisfaction of serving. “I’d like to get involved, but I just don’t have the time.” How often have you heard…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Steps for Making Disciples Through Relational Mentoring

Kenneth H. Carter and Audrey Warren describe a simple, step-by-step process for making disciples and mentoring friends to be closer to Jesus — a process of faith formation that is increasingly important as more and more nontraditional expressions of church emerge. For the unchurched, or “nones,” the language of becoming a disciple is entering a new world of practices, habits,…

Leading Ideas
0 Martin Luther King Jr.’s 4 Key Principles of Prophetic Witness

C. Anthony Hunt explains how Martin Luther King, Jr.’s prophetic witness was grounded in four principles — call, conviction, courage, and commitment. Even fifty years after King’s assassination, these principles are still relevant to leaders engaging in prophetic witness and public ministry. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. believed that God intended for the human family to live in community as interrelated…

Leading Ideas
0 Toward a Year-Round Stewardship Ministry

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says that forming people for faithful stewardship and extravagant generosity requires more than a single annual sermon. She advocates the development of a stewardship calendar to make sure that different aspects of stewardship receive ongoing attention throughout the year. As a child, I would roll my eyes when my mother repeated herself again…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Church Tech New Year’s Resolutions

Will Rice, who blogs on issues related to technology and churches, says that the beginning of the year is a good time to take stock of your computer and IT needs and to make plans for the coming year. Whether or not you are one to make New Year’s resolutions, the beginning of a year is a good time to…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas” Articles of 2017

What Leading Ideas subjects are trending this year? We have assembled this list to give you another opportunity to glean insight and inspiration from the authors and articles most popular with our 18,000 subscribers. The Case of a Small Church in an Oversized Building Lewis A. Parks, author of Small on Purpose, describes how smaller congregations can easily squander their…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Tradition Matters at Christmas

Stephanie Remington of the Lewis Center staff reminds us that Christmas traditions can move the spirit and renew the hope of people in our culture, even those who don’t profess faith. She suggests that in developing Advent and Christmas Eve worship, it’s important to hold tight to some familiar traditions. A friend in his forties, who has largely rejected the…

Leading Ideas
0 Regifting Joy, Hope, Peace, and Love

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe reimagines the common practice of regifting an unwanted gift. He invites us to think of regifting positively — as a way of passing along to others the welcome Advent gifts of joy, hope, peace, and love. Most of us have received a gift we did not need or one that did not quite fit our…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways to Invest in Your Staff Culture

Phill Martin, a clergy coach and an executive with the National Association of Church Business Administrators, says a typical church invests half its operating budget in staff. So, it’s important to invest in strengthening your staff by recognizing their gifts, building trust, strengthening community, and providing honest feedback. A typical congregation invests 45 to 55 percent of its operating budget…

Leading Ideas
0 Toward a Compelling Theology of Lay Ministry

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff says that as the number of laypersons engaged in professional ministry grows, there is a need to articulate a robust and compelling theology of lay ministry — one that affirms the diversity and inclusiveness of God’s call. The number of lay persons with serious involvements in ministry, both professional and volunteer, has grown dramatically…

Leading Ideas
0 Welcoming Millennials by Preserving Their Anonymity

Churches often welcome young adults with such urgency and expectation that younger visitors can feel overwhelmed. Scott Chrostek, pastor of Resurrection Downtown, says it is actually more hospitable to maintain their sense of anonymity and personal privacy in worship — to help them blend in and feel comfortable without attracting undue attention. There is an urgency fueling churches these days.…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Suggestions When a Ministry Project is Unsuccessful

Pastor Vincent Howell, an expert on project management in ministry, says even when a project doesn’t fully meet expectations, it’s important to keep a positive outlook and learn from the experience so that team members are encouraged to try new things without fear of failure. Not all projects, no matter how well-intentioned, will achieve the planned objectives. So, it’s important…

Leading Ideas
0 For Multicultural Churches — A Variation on the Golden Rule

Douglas Brouwer, author of How to Become a Multicultural Church, says in diverse settings it’s not enough to treat people the way you would like to be treated. It’s important to learn how they want to be treated. Doesn’t it make sense to treat others as you would like to be treated? It sounds right, and of course, it’s biblical. But…

Leading Ideas
0 Worship and Mission Should Go Hand in Hand

Evangelism Professor Mark Teasdale says that an essential function of worship is to undergird a congregation’s missional identity. In worship, God consecrates us to carry forth God’s holiness as we serve in God’s mission of making disciples. Worship and mission go hand in hand, each supporting each other. Worship is essential if we are to be missional. I confess that…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Leadership Lessons That Shaped My Ministry

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., founding director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, recently shared leadership ideas particularly influential in his own ministry. His top five leadership lessons underscore an approach to leadership that is centered on others and directed toward God’s ultimate will, even when the first faithful step is an incremental one. I have often said, “I don’t…

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