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 Characteristics of Effective Preaching in the Wake of Mass Trauma

How would you preach next Sunday if a mass shooting, a natural disaster, or a public health crisis shook your community? Sadly, such events are so common that every preacher needs to be prepared. Preaching professor Kimberly Wagner outlines five characteristics of preaching in the wake of mass trauma that create a safe space for people to lay their experiences…

Leading Ideas
0 Shirley Chisholm’s Applied Christianity

Lovett H. Weems Jr. reflects on the legacy of Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to serve in congress. Chisholm was an advocate for justice and equality who called the church to focus on the needs of others. When Shirley Chisholm was raising money for children and youth projects at Janes United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, having joined in…

Leading Ideas
0 Trends in Latino Congregations: An In-depth Interview with Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi

How are the trends in majority Latino congregations different from those in non-Latino congregations? Jessica Anschutz speaks with Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi about her report Latino Congregations: Trends from the Faith Communities Today (FACT) and Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations (EPIC) Studies. It reveals that while Latino congregations face financial difficulties, a majority have experienced growth or remained stable in recent…

Leading Ideas
0 Fresh Hope for Rural Churches

Rural churches are anchors in their communities and can use their property assets to bring new hope to their neighbors. Jennie Birkholz describes how creative partnerships between churches, nonprofits, health systems, and others can respond to critical needs and draw together people who don’t normally interact.  Churches can no longer be insular institutions and instead must open hearts and buildings…

Leading Ideas
0 Intergenerational Ministry for the Post-pandemic Church

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says siloed age-level ministries often prevent congregations from worshiping together around one common table. But the pandemic provided an opportunity for us to rethink our concepts of place and space and to reimagine what it means for us all to be together. This article was originally published on June 29, 2021. If your family is…

Leading Ideas
0 Negotiating the Coming Wave of Church Property Transitions: An In-depth Interview with Mark Elsdon

Is your church facing the difficult decision to sell or repurpose property? This interview with Mark Elsdon, editor of Gone for Good?, focuses on how congregations can resell or repurpose church property in ways that avoids common pitfalls and propels their missions forward.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Ann Michel: Your entrée into…

Leading Ideas
0 Quiet Acts of Strategic Resistance Open a Congregation to its Neighbors

Laura Heikes, pastor of a predominantly Anglo congregation in a Texas border town, shares how her congregation became more present to the people and culture of the surrounding community. Several small but strategic “acts of resistance” challenging dominant cultural norms were the first steps in a process of renewal aimed at transforming her church from a “rich white church” to…

Leading Ideas
0 How Best to Use Overflow Worship Space on Easter

Tom Berlin describes strategies for encouraging your regular attenders to worship in overflow spaces outside the sanctuary when additional seating is needed on Easter so that visitors will feel welcome and have a quality worship experience. This article was originally published on March 8, 2017. Increased worship attendance on Easter Sunday requires some churches to set up spaces beyond the…

Leading Ideas
0 Risking Experiments for God’s Reign 

Where is God’s movement taking place in new ways for new times? Cherished narratives, programs, language, and structures are no longer producing the fruit associated with them during past eras. Lovett Weems says innovation is possible if church leaders challenge the assumptions behind what we are doing because they no longer match the current reality.   Most church leaders spend much…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Policies Your Church Should Consider

Ken Sloane, a stewardship expert at Discipleship Ministries, outlines ten policies for institutional trust and financial integrity that reduce confusion and conflict while at the same time encourage generosity to support your mission and responsible use of congregational resources. Some people equate the word “policy” with “bureaucracy,” and that’s not hard to understand — both have to do with decision-making.…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Essential Ways Leaders Build Relationships with Their Team Members

Dan Reiland says investing in relationships is the make-or-break factor that determines the success of your leadership. He provides ten helpful tips for interacting with others that will help nurture positive relationships that will keep things running smoothly. The quality and enduring nature of your relationships will make or break your leadership. That axiom is true in every arena of…

Leading Ideas
0 A Growing Church Understands the Interconnection between Discipleship and Evangelism

Rev. Dr. Michael L. Henderson Sr. describes how a church he planted grew to over 7,000 members through an intentional process for developing disciples grounded in the core belief that discipleship and evangelism are organically interconnected.  Decades ago, I planted New Beginnings Church (NBC), a solo church plant located in Matthews, North Carolina, outside of Charlotte. NBC started with 12…

Leading Ideas
0 Transformational Leadership for Urban Ministries: An In-Depth Interview with Tony Hunt

How can church leaders address the challenges of urban ministry in a transformative way? Doug Powe speaks with Tony Hunt, a pastor and scholar, about reading a community well, identifying assets, and the importance of understanding your ministry context. Learn how to develop the transformative qualities of effective leadership. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Delegation Lessons for Church Leaders

A balanced delegation of tasks may necessitate doing fewer activities and doing better discipleship training. Drawing on his own experience, Karl Vaters offers five delegation lessons for church leaders including: leave guilt at the door, adapt to suit your size, stop activities that are without leadership, do nothing without two leaders, and assess and hone your delegation skills.  When I…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Strategies for Reaching and Developing Gen Z

How can congregations build meaningful connections with young adults? Brandi Nicole Williams, Director for the African American Church Evangelism Institute, offers eight practical strategies for bridging the generational gap and fostering relationships with Gen Z to build a more relevant church community.   In today’s rapidly changing world, the church faces a critical challenge: engaging and connecting with Generation Z, born…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Compass Points Guide Character Formation and Lifelong Discipleship for Youth

The Fuller Youth Institute’s “Faith Beyond Youth Group” research initiative explored character as the vehicle for both faith longevity and faith vibrancy throughout the week. Their research yielded five compass points to guide the formation of character in young people — cultivating trust, modeling growth, teaching for transformation, practicing together, and making meaning.   The findings from the Faith Beyond Youth…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Voting the Best Way to Make Collective Decisions in the Church?

Voting is part of the organizational culture of many congregations. But it can create winners and losers, leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths. While there are times when voting is necessary and even desirable, churches should consider, explore, and adopt other methods of collective decision-making whenever possible, according to Mary Gladstone-Highland, Katy Stokes, and Christina Wichert, authors of a…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Strategies for Doing Church Online

Heidi Campbell, who has studied online churches since the early days of the internet, describes three online church strategies that emerged during the pandemic. The most common strategies mirror or modify the aspects of normal worship. But she sees the greatest promise in strategies that reimagine worship to take advantage of the unique possibilities of digital technology. This article was…

Leading Ideas
0 Healing Fractured Communities: An In-Depth Interview with Doug Powe and Jessica Anschutz

How can congregational leaders be healers and agitators at the same time? In this in-depth interview, Doug Powe and Jessica Anschutz reflect on the new book Healing Fractured Communities and the stories of pastoral leaders engaged in the work of renewal, resilience, and resistance in congregations, on college campuses, and in communities.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on…

Leading Ideas
0 Build Resilience. Reduce Burnout.

Are you feeling underchallenged, neglected, or overloaded? Diane Owen shares three pillars that provide the fuel to avert these three types of burnout. She offers practical ways to make small changes to avoid the downward spiral toward burnout. Resiliency, simply stated, is the ability to navigate difficult challenges. But sometimes our resiliency muscle has atrophied to a point where burnout…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Strategies to Thrive as a Single Person in Ministry

What are the opportunities, joys, and challenges for single persons in vocational ministry? Kevin E. Lawson and Jane Carr conducted focus groups and interviews with 45 single church staff members to answer these questions. They share seven ways unmarried staff can thrive in ministry. As more young adults delay marriage, date longer before becoming married, or stay single, it is…

Leading Ideas
0 Preaching in the Wake of Mass Trauma: An In-Depth Interview with Kimberly Wagner

How would you preach next Sunday if tomorrow your community fell victim to a mass shooting or was devastated by a natural disaster? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Kimberly Wagner, Assistant Professor of Preaching at Princeton Theological Seminary, about approaching this increasingly unavoidable homiletical task in ways that hold in tension loss and grief and the promise…

Leading Ideas
0 Restoring Trust in the Institutional Church Requires Allegiance to Our True Purpose

Gil Rendle says all institutions eventually gravitate from serving their stated purposes to satisfying powerful institutional constituencies. The current deep mistrust of the institutional church is fueled by the fact that we focus more on our own people, clergy, resources, and rules than on our true, lifegiving mission. Trust can only be restored when leaders have the courage and capacity…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Addictions the Church Must Overcome to Grow in the Future

Carey Nieuwhof explains that churches must respond to a culture that has become even more digital, mobile, and home-centered since the COVID-19 crisis. He predicts growing churches will focus less on place-based ministry and packed rooms and will adjust budgets and attitudes to fit a new reality. This article was originally published on October 6, 2020.  You’ve probably learned a…

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