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 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…

Leading Ideas
0 There’s No Going Back to the Pre-Pandemic Church

Kay Kotan says many churches feel a natural desire to return to the familiar, comfortable patterns of the past. But churches that embrace this time of disruption as a catalyst for lasting change are most likely to be vital in the post-pandemic world. The church as we knew it before the pandemic no longer exists. Yet, we do not know…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways Leaders Can Renew Their Hope and Strength

Today’s challenges require courage. Tom Berlin reminds us that hope is the wellspring of courage for Christians. And he outlines six practices that can rekindle our hope and refortify our strength to persist in our Christian callings. Courage is essential to the Christian life, but it must be yoked to hope in the power of God in our lives. Courage…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Stay Focused on Your Mission

Barry Winders says having a mission statement isn’t enough to keep your church focused and fruitful. Churches need to develop a mission filter — a question or statement designed to evaluate decisions and activities to determine their alignment with the mission. As a leader, have you found yourself comparing your mission and vision to what is happening in your organization?…

Leading Ideas
0 Helping People Connect with God through Nature

The natural world is our first way of knowing God, says Beth Norcross, an expert in spirituality and nature. Finding God in nature can reconnect people with faith and the biblical tradition, especially the growing percentage of younger people who are less attracted by the trappings of the institutional church. It seems like everyone’s outside these days. Despite COVID-19-related travel…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Paradigm Shifts for Mission Renewal

Tim Snyder and Paul Erickson say that congregational renewal involves a new way of being church and new approaches to our foundational callings. They outline 10 new ways of thinking essential to reimagining the church and its mission. Congregational renewal requires more than figuring out a better way to do what we’ve always done. Instead, we need to figure out…

Leading Ideas
0 Courage, Faith, and Resilient Leadership

What gives Christian leaders the courage to persist in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Tom Berlin on his new book Courage: Jesus and the Call to Brave Faith. He shares how courage emerges through faith, hope, and God-inspired convictions as we deepen our commitment to walk with Christ. Listen to this interview…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading with Imperfect Knowledge

Leaders today are faced with the challenge of deciding how to move forward with imperfect knowledge. Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says leaders must risk action when they have enough knowledge to head in the right direction. He outlines decision-making principles for situations when gathering all the data isn’t a realistic option. Bob Coutts, a retired executive at Lockheed Martin,…

Leading Ideas
0 The Myth of the One Big Idea

Scott Cormode explains how change efforts often fail because we risk everything on one big idea. Innovation flourishes within systems that generate lots of ideas. And a leader’s task is to plant and water the seeds of change to see which take root and grow. There is a giant redwood tree in my grandmother’s tiny backyard. Towering 60 feet tall,…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ground Rules for Candid Conversations

Tom Berlin says that candid conversation takes courage. But it also requires kindness and compassion. He suggests five practices for approaching difficult conversations with openness, honesty, sensitivity, and grace. There are few places where courage is more required than in the words we say to each other. Jesus demonstrates how the courage of candid dialogue enables us to create deeper…

Leading Ideas
0 Confronting 3 Crises: Pandemic, Racial Reckoning, and Political Violence

David Brubaker says congregational leaders are in the precarious position of responding to three simultaneous crises — the pandemic, racial reckoning, and political violence. This unprecedented situation requires that leaders stay connected with their people, lead from deeply held values, and name and grieve losses. What can a congregation do when a pandemic, a political crisis, and a racial reckoning…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Reasons You Must Not Abandon Your Online Services

Thom Rainer says it is a mistake for churches to give up their digital or streaming services after returning to in-person worship. He outlines seven reasons online worship can augment your place-based worship and reach the community. We are seeing the trends, and they are troubling. As churches return to in-person gatherings, they are abandoning their digital and streaming services.…

Leading Ideas
0 Giving for the Right Reasons

The Christian faith invites us to think about giving in new and countercultural ways. Giving faithfully and for the right reasons puts us in alignment with God’s purposes and brings joy. Our consumer culture sends us many messages about what it means to give and give well. Believing these messages draws us away from the faithful way, and in doing…

Leading Ideas
0 What Will Your Church Look Like Post-COVID-19?

Barry Winders says the COVID-19 crisis is a hinge point for the church. This pivotal time demands mission-focused leaders lest the church slip back into the busyness and nonmissional activities of the pre-COVID-19 past. Whether we accept it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is a hinge point for the church. The church’s mission remains the same. But the execution…

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