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 5 Lessons for Better Preaching

Charley Reeb, author of two books on preaching, says that preachers better connect with people in the pews when they realize they are in the pulpit, not the classroom, and strive for messages that are less academic and more relevant to everyday life. One reason so much preaching misses the mark is that preachers tend to approach the task as…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Involve Younger People in Stewardship

Churches too often overlook younger adults when it comes to stewardship and giving. Ian Urriola outlines four ways churches can foster a culture of generosity among young people. It’s stewardship season here in the U.S. The temperature is starting to cool down. The days are getting shorter. Pumpkin spice lattes are being consumed by the gallon. As we stare down…

Focus
0 6 Trends Revealed in 2018 Clergy Age Report

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., highlights some of the significant findings in the Lewis Center’s annual Clergy Age Trends Report. Of note is the modest downturn in recent years in the number of clergy under 35 as well as the number and percentage of young women clergy, following a decade of improvement. Download the 2018 Clergy Age Trends Report.   For over…

Focus
0 Young Clergy Effectiveness: Good News-Bad News

Data from the Lewis Pastoral Leadership Inventory™ (LPLI) suggest that younger clergy share many of the same strengths as their older colleagues and that they get high marks for their creativity and new ideas. The challenges seem to be sustaining that creative edge over time and translating new ideas into fruitful outcomes when it comes to worship attendance and discipleship…

Focus
0 5 Reasons the Church Still Needs Young Clergy

For many years the Lewis Center has monitored the presence of younger clergy in the church. Why do these trends still matter? Lovett H. Weems, Jr., and Ann A. Michel remind us that despite modest progress in the past decade, encouraging the ordination of more young candidates for ministry is just as important as it was when they first articulated…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways to Maximize Your Church’s Home-Field Advantage in Giving

Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, authors of Contagious Generosity, say churches can reach donors in ways no other nonprofits can. Congregations can maximize this “home-field advantage” by building trust, enhancing relationships, casting vision, and working to shape their culture in ways that enhance generosity. Even though people attend church services less regularly today than in the past, the church still…

Leading Ideas
0 What Happened in One Small Church Mattered

Roger Lovette shares the touching story of returning to the first church he ever served,  thirty years later, to find they had finally acted on his recommendation to relocate to a more desirable location. The story is a reminder that change takes time and, more importantly, that transformative ministry continues along the way, keeping church going and making it holy…

Leading Ideas
0 People Too Busy to Serve? Teach Them to Steward Their Time

Lewis Center Staffer Ann A. Michel says people who think they are too busy to serve at church should be challenged to reexamine their priorities and make first fruits commitments of their time. Helping people steward God’s precious gift of time can free them from chronic busyness and allow them to experience the joy of serving. These days, it seems…

Leading Ideas
0 Engaging Young Adults Through Innovation

Ebonie Johnson Cooper describes how involving young adults in an innovative process of ministry design can enhance their church participation. She outlines five pilot initiatives that are proving fruitful at Reid Temple AME Church in Maryland. Contrary to popular belief, young adult Christians are not a monolithic group. We do not think alike. We do not worship God alike. And…

Leading Ideas
0 Welcoming Change Begins with You

Simple habits of congregational life, such as always sitting in the same pew or greeting the same people after worship, might seem normal and innocuous. But they can be unwelcoming and off-putting to newcomers. The good news is, simple steps to disrupt these habits can make a big difference to visitors and these changes can begin with you! We are…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tips for Launching a Church-School Partnership

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff outlines four ways a church can lay a solid foundation for a church-school partnership before jumping in headfirst. Listening, learning, establishing trust, and building solid relationships are key first steps. Many congregations find that reaching out to their local schools is an important way to serve children and their families and strengthen ties…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Questions to Assess Your Church’s Financial Health

Lovett H. Weems Jr. says paying attention to various indices of your congregation’s financial health is a key practice in remaining economically viable and sustaining vital ministry. He offers nine questions to help focus attention on important considerations related to your church’s long-term financial sustainability. 1. What percentage of your operating budget is funded through recurring and predictable sources of…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Steps for Putting Good Ideas into Action

Missouri Pastor Jim Hoffman discusses how a five-step process for evaluating and testing possible new initiatives can help churches develop and implement ideas in a more thorough and systematic manner. Have you wondered why your congregation continues to struggle despite the many proposals for new or improved ministry? Many congregations regularly generate new ideas for new program initiatives, new ways…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways Female Leaders Undermine Themselves

Church consultant Susan Beaumont says that power accrues more easily to men than women in our culture, so women need to be especially savvy about how they use their power. She outlines five common ways that women can undermine themselves when it comes to using power. We’ve all seen this happen: A woman suggests an idea or solution to a…

Leading Ideas
0 Who is Looking for a Church Home?

John Zehring, author of Get Your Church Ready to Grow, says it’s helpful for a church to focus its outreach on categories of people who might be more receptive to finding a new church home, such as recently divorced or widowed persons, those new to the neighborhood, or inactive members interested in reengaging. There are many categories of people with…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Lies We Like to Tell About Church Growth

Church consultant Dan Hotchkiss exposes some of the reassuring lies that cause many churches to stagnate at a comfortable size while ignoring well-established truths about church growth. Growth, he says, requires doing something new. Some churches grow, and others shrink. Most oscillate for decades around a size they find comfortable. Whether your church is trying to achieve escape velocity from…

Leading Ideas
0 Planning for a Strong Finish to Your Stewardship Campaign

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says the success of a pledge drive depends in large part on reaching givers who require a bit more encouragement. So, even after Commitment Sunday has come and gone, you need a plan for critical but often overlooked steps such as following up with those who don’t initially respond and thanking those who…

Leading Ideas
0 2 Churches — 1 Pastor

It is increasingly common for a congregation to share a pastor with another congregation and for pastors to be serving more than one church. Lew Parks, author of Small on Purpose, considers this trend and some of the skills and perspectives needed in multi-church settings. One of the most significant sociological and organizational trends in the church today is the…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Key Practices for Building a High-Trust Culture

Amy Valdez Barker says that the church should be a training center in the development of trust. She names practices that leaders can employ when groups come together to create environments that foster and facilitate a high-trust culture. The church should be one of the primary training centers in building high-trust communities and high-trust cultures. Our faith in Jesus requires…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Tips for Avoiding Digital Communication Disasters

Church consultant Joel Snider says that serious congregational conflicts can be caused or exacerbated by the poor use of electronic communication. Congregations can work to develop a common understanding of appropriate and inappropriate uses of digital communication, says Snider, and he offers seven key principles for forging a digital communication covenant. Have you ever sent a text that the recipient…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways Congregations Can Respond to the #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement has been a wakeup call regarding the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and misconduct in virtually every sector of society, including the church. The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women has outlined ways that a congregation can respond to victims and help prevent further abuse. The #MeToo movement has been spiritually powerful because of…

Leading Ideas
0 The Bright Promise of Alternative Faith Communities

A new type of congregation is emerging that combines religious practice with a distinctive element of local culture or community identity, such as artistic expression, missional engagement, table fellowship, or nature. Researchers Tim Shapiro and Kara Faris studied the key characteristics of these alternative faith communities in their book Divergent Church. Convergence, a worshiping community in Virginia, focuses on the…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tips for Experimenting with Change This Summer

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says that the summer is the perfect time for a congregation to test possible changes through short-term experiments. He offers four considerations to guide an experimental approach to implementing new ideas. An experiment is where you get to test something out. You go into it knowing that the results may not be what you…

Leading Ideas
0 Reaching People Who Don’t Look or Act Like “Church People”

Rev. Olu Brown started Impact Church in Atlanta 11 years ago with a group of 25 people. Now, it’s one of the 25 fastest growing churches in the country, with almost 4,400 worshipers weekly, onsite or online. He shares tips on reaching people — even those who don’t look or act like “church people.” At Impact Church, we’re a group…

Leading Ideas
0 Stop Taking Givers for Granted

Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, authors of Contagious Generosity, explain the importance of developing a system to thank givers to celebrate their spiritual growth through giving and encourage greater generosity. It is sad but true that many churches take their givers for granted. Most nonprofits, on the other hand, understand just how difficult it is to find prospects, cultivate them,…

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