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 7 Ways to Lead When the Way Ahead Is Unclear

Susan Beaumont explains that saying, “I don’t know” is not a sign of weakness in a leader. It is an honest acknowledgment that more learning is required before action can be taken. She outlines seven ways to inspire confidence while acknowledging that you don’t have all the answers yet. People look to leaders to fix organizational problems. A leader who…

Leading Ideas
0 What to Do When Volunteers Quit

Deborah Ike says people step away from volunteer positions for various reasons. But regardless of the cause, they need to know the church continues to value them. She offers a three-step formula to respond in a way that is respectful and encourages longer-term retention. It’s that awkward moment you’re always trying to avoid: a volunteer emails you or mentions one…

Leading Ideas
0 How Can Your Church Building Reignite Your Mission?

Krin Van Tatenhove and Rob Mueller remind us that a congregation’s physical assets are resources to be stewarded to advance the kingdom. They recommend examining building users and partnerships to see how they can help reignite your congregation’s mission. Every brick, beam, shingle, stained-glass window, and pew of our buildings came into being through the generous, often sacrificial giving of…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Unhelpful Postures on a Leadership Team

Eric Geiger says a church leadership team’s effectiveness is hampered when members act as consultants, critics, or senators. Each of these postures distances members from owning problems and committing to solutions. Wise leaders long for their teams to be filled with people who assume the posture and attitude of servant, steward, equipper, and executor. When that happens, the whole team…

Leading Ideas
0 There Is No Such Thing as Church Revitalization

William Chaney says revitalization is the wrong goal for churches in decline, since it implies a return to the past. Churches need to instead rewrite their DNA by rediscovering their mission, reengaging their neighborhood, and refocusing their resources. Churches in decline or in need of renewal often seek “revitalization” in an attempt to return to their former glory. But many…

Leading Ideas
0 Meet with a Purpose

Leadership Consultant Mike Bonem suggests strategies for making meetings more productive. The first step is to be clear about the purpose for convening a meeting. How often have you thought to yourself, “Why are we having this meeting?” or “This meeting is a waste of time.” A significant amount of time in church and ministry leadership is spent in meetings.…

Leading Ideas
0 It Used to Work So Well

Lovett Weems says that a congregation’s success can lead to its demise if the creativity and adaptability that made the congregation vital becomes frozen in place. This irony can be surmounted only if a church maintains dynamic interactions with its constituencies and the surrounding environment. “It is one of the paradoxes of success,” says Charles Handy, “that the things and…

Leading Ideas
0 Asking Millennials to Give

John Wimberly dispels the myth that millennials aren’t willing to contribute to church. The problem is the church has not adapted to the 21st-century ways of soliciting and receiving donations that would encourage their generosity. “Boomers at our church don’t understand how we give.” I hear this from young people around the country. In a striking example of how generations…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Lead Effectively When Expectations Change

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe explains that church leaders today are forced to lead amid constantly changing expectations. He outlines a four-step process to help a church deal with a change in direction. We all live with expectations. Even kindergarten children are expected to read at a certain level and count to a certain number. No one can escape expectations.…

Leading Ideas
0 What Question is Your Church Trying to Answer?

Quincy Brown says most churches are focused on answering questions related to their own survival rather than answering the life questions that people beyond the church really care about. The question needs to shift from saving the congregation and its traditions to helping people feel at home in a world awash in chaos by following the path of Jesus. What…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Help Church Staff Succeed

How can your congregation help those in paid staff roles perform most effectively? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff outlines five ways to clarify expectations and help church staff develop their professional skills. 1. Clear and reasonable expectations Many churches hire staff without a clear vision for what the person will actually do, desperately hoping that adding staff will…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Reasons Why the Church of the Future Will be Online

With more and more people working, learning, and dating online, Paul Nixon predicts an explosion of online ministry. And rather than just broadcasting things meant primarily for people gathered in a church building, more worship and activities will be designed entirely for and with people on the web. I was driving in Northern Virginia one Sunday morning a couple of…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Strategies for Leading Beyond Your Blind Spots

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says we all have characteristics that others recognize but we can’t quite see in ourselves. Effective leaders see past these blind spots by cultivating self-awareness, seeking accountability, and soliciting meaningful feedback. How many times have you attempted to cross a lane of traffic and ended up with a horn blaring in your ear? Almost every…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Building Blocks for Church Social Media Success

Mark MacDonald outlines how your church can stay in touch with congregants throughout the week with social media posts that extend the reach of your ministry by building an audience and a relevant brand following. It’s difficult to believe we’ve had social media for almost two decades. We once wondered if it would have staying power — and now we…

Leading Ideas
0 A Spiritual Approach to Community Assessment

Luke Edwards says we can explore our communities with the same spiritual practices that deepen our understanding of God’s Word. He has adapted the practice of Lectio Divina as a tool for “reading” the neighborhood surrounding a church in a new, more prayerful way. What if church leaders learned to read their community like they read Holy Scriptures? The practice…

Leading Ideas
0 Take a Risk This Stewardship Season

David P. King suggests churches need to expand their imaginations and think bigger about stewardship, inviting people to live into the role God calls us to in the ongoing creation, redemption, and transformation of this world. Stewardship season is predictable. It comes around every year like clockwork. Predictability brings comfort, and that can be good — like the sweater you…

Leading Ideas
0 What Happens When a Millennial Walks into your Church?

Jeremy Steele says that reaching millennials requires more than marketing and invitation. You need a plan for how to connect with them once they arrive — a plan that engages them in serious matters of the soul and feeds their hunger for authentic community. Churches often spend more time and energy thinking through marketing and invitation strategies than considering next…

Leading Ideas
0 Clergy Age Trends Give Cause for Concern

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., highlights some of the findings in the Lewis Center’s annual Clergy Age Trends report. Of note is a major downturn in the number of elders under 35. He also identifies the United Methodist conferences that are attracting larger numbers of young clergy. Download the 2019 Clergy Age Trends Report. For over 10 years, the Lewis Center…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Practices That Help Newcomers Get Involved

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says churches often operate in ways that make it hard for new people to get involved, even if they are hospitable on Sunday morning. She outlines five practices that can make it easier for new people to get connected and advance as leaders. Newcomers often find it difficult to get involved in church…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Characteristics of Humble Confident Leaders

Confidence is important for leaders, but according to Kay Kotan and Phil Schroeder, confidence can easily tilt toward arrogance. They outline seven characteristics, such as vulnerability, integrity, and inclusiveness, that promote a balanced, humble confidence. Demonstrating confidence is a positive and much needed leadership trait. Confident leaders are convicted to lead towards the mission and vision. They are surrounded with…

Leading Ideas
0 Friendship as a Means of Discipleship

Befriending others was the early church’s method of evangelism, discipleship, and worship. Greg Moore, who works to create new faith communities, says it is critical for the church to remember how to practice friendship as Jesus did. We can’t hear “friends” without hearing Jesus telling the disciples in John’s Gospel, “I no longer call you servants, I now call you…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Church Ignoring Capital Needs?

Lovett Weems says a separate capital budget can help assure adequate funding for the upkeep of a church’s property, facilities, and equipment. In starting a capital budget, a church needs to assess its current and future needs and decide on the sources of income that will be dedicated to these needs. When people think of church budgets, they usually have…

Leading Ideas
0 We Can’t Compete with Sunday Sports if Worship is Boring

Krin Van Tatenhove and Rob Mueller say churches can’t complain about other activities encroaching on Sundays if our worship is boring. No matter the style, Spirit-infused worship that brings people into the presence of the living God is anything but boring! Church leaders will often blame our culture for a lack of Sunday attendance, claiming that the other activities —…

Leading Ideas
0 Should Time and Talents be Part of Your Stewardship Campaign?

Ann Michel, who teaches stewardship at Wesley Theological Seminary, says encouraging people to pledge their time and talents reinforces a holistic understanding of stewardship. But a combined campaign isn’t the only way to communicate that stewardship is about more than money. Should an annual stewardship campaign include the opportunity for people to commit their time and talents to the church…

Leading Ideas
0 Preach Like TED

Charley Reeb says preachers should take a lesson from TED Talks — the 18-minute internet videos that have reached over a billion people worldwide. The popularity of TED Talks suggests people still hunger for powerful, authentic discussion of ideas, especially when presented in novel and memorable ways. TED Talks are watched 1.2 billion times a year! Whenever someone tries to…

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