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 Key Observations for Reaching Latino/a Populations

The growing Latino and Latina population in the United States is transforming the religious landscape, reshaping virtually every Christian tradition. Drawing on the work of Juan Francisco Martínez, a scholar of the history of Latino/a Protestantism, Lovett Weems reports on trends in Latino/a ministry that are vital to any congregational or denominational leader with a heart for the newcomer in…

Leading Ideas
0 Cross-Cultural Pastor as Spiritual Bridge Builder

HiRho Y. Park has studied how pastoral leaders can be more effective in cross-racial and cross-cultural ministry contexts. These pastors can be bridge builders, she says, by practicing their faith, proclaiming the Word of God, and leading from the woundedness of suffering and racism. Pastors who are successfully leading cross-racial and cross-cultural churches are the ones who are able to…

Leading Ideas
0 Online Church is Your New Front Door

Carey Nieuwhof says that online church was once a back door for lazy or disengaged Christians, but it is rapidly evolving into the primary entry point for new people interested in a church. But to reach people who live on the internet, churches need to devote more resources and staff to online engagement. There’s an ongoing debate about how much…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Key Practices of Community Engagement

Sam Marullo and Doug Powe, both Wesley Theological Seminary faculty members, have developed a simple model to help congregations engage their communities in meaningful ways. They outline four reflective practices — inquiry, imagination, incarnation, and imminence — to guide a church in connecting with its neighbors. How can churches engage their communities in meaningful ways? Many congregations struggle to figure…

Leading Ideas
0 Kindness is the New Evangelism

Andrew Ponder Williams says that simple acts of kindness can counter the dominant cultural narrative of meanness and be a powerful way for the church to connect with others. Kindness, he suggests, is the new evangelism. So much of the narrative in our culture today can be summarized as just plain mean. From the way customers behave at the corner restaurant to…

Leading Ideas
0 Mission is Constant but Methods Must Change

Leaders need to be ready to deal with change, says Jim Cowart. But it’s important to recognize the difference between the church’s mission, which is unchanging, and methods, which must often be updated to serve the age-old mission. Change doesn’t have manners and rarely knocks. Instead, it comes barreling in, giving us little time to react. And if we stand…

Leading Ideas
0 Confess Your Mess

Marv Nelson explains that leaders gain respect when they own their failures and shortcomings, not when they ignore problems or shift blame. In confessing your mistakes, you model humility and become more able to learn from failure. As leaders, our messes — whether private or corporate — are a bit more public than those of the average person. When leaders…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Policies Every Church Needs for Trust and Transparency

Trust is fragile, says Bonnie Ives Marden. And finances, if not handled correctly, can be a source of worry rather than security. She outlines seven policies for institutional trust and financial integrity that reduce confusion and conflict while at the same time encouraging generosity to support your mission. Every church can benefit by having these policies in place. 1. Building…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Grow the Leaders Your Church Needs to Thrive

Michael Kurtz describes a simple but profound leadership development formula in which each leader is responsible for mentoring new leaders and creating the expectation that those new leaders will also mentor others. It is a leadership succession plan begun by Jesus himself. Years ago, I was introduced to a leadership development phrase that has become a ministry mantra for me:…

Leading Ideas
0 Telling a More Inclusive Story

Amanda Poppei’s Washington, DC, congregation is engaged in an anti-racism effort aimed at countering racist assumptions embedded in their congregational life and practices. This effort led them to rethink how to tell the story of a recent capital campaign in a more inclusive way that honored the contributions of many throughout the history of their building. For the past several…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Attendance and Revenue Figures Don’t Tell the Whole Story

Worship attendance and revenue figures don’t tell the whole story in gauging your church’s effectiveness. Rich Birch suggests some novel indicators that can reveal growth and engagement — from how many gallons of coffee are consumed weekly to the ratio of kids to adults. Too often, church leaders only pay attention to weekend attendance and revenue patterns at their churches.…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Steps to Reengage Your Community

Candace Lewis and Rodney Smothers say that churches must leave their  buildings, identify community needs, and walk alongside neighbors in order to make a difference. They outline seven steps to engage people and the real issues they confront. In many communities, it seems as if a number of traditional churches are disconnected. Many have become like silos. But events emerging…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Leadership Principles from Archbishop Tutu

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe learned through firsthand experience working with Desmond Tutu the key principles of the archbishop’s leadership effectiveness. Powe says Archbishop Tutu was fully present to whomever he was with. He regarded even opponents as children of God. And he remained persistent in the face of problems, large and small. I was fortunate to have served as Archbishop…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Learn to Work with Difficult People

When confronted with a difficult person, do you try to work around them or just complain behind their back? Lewis Center staffer Ann Michel says effective leaders find ways to collaborate with problematic people if their support and help are crucial to their objectives. You know who I’m talking about. The church matriarch who is always questioning your ideas. The…

Leading Ideas
0 Believe in Miracles and Act Accordingly

Research on rapidly growing churches helped Matt Miofsky and Jason Byassee understand that miracles are happening in all our churches and communities all the time. Some churches and church leaders live and work and act like they believe this, and others don’t. This distinction makes all the difference. Talking to pastors of rapidly growing churches, we noticed a pattern. Somewhere,…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Actions Churches Should Take in Light of #MeToo

Phill Martin, a clergy coach and an executive with the National Association of Church Business Administrators, says churches should take proactive steps to protect against the possibility of sexual abuse or misconduct before an incident arises. He says honesty, accountability, and resources can help prevent misconduct. #MeToo, a social media movement that began in November 2017, has ignited awareness of…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Create Accountability for Discipleship

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says it’s common for many individuals within a congregation to be responsible for discipleship. But often, no one person is accountable for it. He suggests having a discipleship coordinator who can help define clearly the meaning of discipleship and integrate it into all areas of church life. Who is accountable for discipleship in your congregation?…

Leading Ideas
0 The Problem with Being Spiritual but Not Religious

Tom Bandy explains that the rise in the number of people who claim to be spiritual but not religious is a manifestation of a larger societal trend to personalize and control the way individuals experience the world. But Bandy maintains that religion can never be personalized because the search for meaning is a shared desire and because control of the…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Goals that Promote Healthy Multicultural Ministry

Drawing on his experience in a cross-racial/cross-cultural ministry setting, Albert Shuler explains that successful multicultural ministry depends on clear goals and objectives. The ultimate goal of creating a healthy interaction between cultures rests on the initial goals of minimizing conflict, recognizing differences, and respecting differences. Nearly everyone in ministry these days is aware of the complex tapestry of cultures that…

Leading Ideas
0 Make Decisions with Your Head but Implement Them with Your Heart

Communication specialist Theodore May explains that the tendency to lead from the heart often impedes rational decision making in churches. But it can be an advantage when it comes to implementing key decisions. Churches, he says, can be particularly effective in creating compelling narratives to generate support for their decisions. In the secular world, leaders are trained to use their…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Keys to Developing Emerging Generation Leaders

Marv Nelson says church leaders are often too quick to dismiss the potential of next generation leaders. To move beyond our own negative stereotypes, we need to invest time in really knowing millennials, equipping them, and believing in them enough to let them take leadership. I’ve heard many church leaders air their frustrations about the millennial generation. Many times, they…

Leading Ideas
0 Choose Your Hills Wisely

Jim Cowart says it’s important to stay focused on the right objectives. Instead of being content with what is, taking on too much, or choosing the wrong battles to fight, good leaders choose carefully the hills they need to conquer. As a leader, you must choose your battles. And you better choose wisely. If you don’t, it can cost you…

Leading Ideas
0 Eliminating the Downward Drag of Ministry Clutter

Michael Kurtz explains that churches are quick to add new programs but slow to eliminate older ones, creating ministry clutter and program overload. Regular pruning is required to regain focus. He outlines three guidelines for deciding where to cut back. Another training workshop, another church program added. Another new idea, another ministry comes on line. Thank God for new ideas!…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Deresolutions to Start the New Year

Mike Bonem says effective leaders are strategic in deciding what not to do. He advocates resolving to drop inconsequential tasks and delegate work peripheral to your core responsibilities as well as tasks that would help other leaders develop. A few weeks into the new year, the majority of people have already broken their New Year resolutions. So, this year, why…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Talks Podcast Episodes of 2018

Leading Ideas Talks podcast debuted in January 2018, providing a new way for Leading Ideas subscribers and other church leaders to learn cutting-edge leadership strategies from some of today’s most relevant thought leaders, including Robert Schnase, Kenneth Carter, Adam Hamilton, Ginger-Gaines Cirelli, and Olu Brown. These 10 episodes, hosted by Lewis Center Director Doug Powe and Associate Director Ann Michel,…

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