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 The Rural Church’s Gifts of Intimacy and Diversity

Michael Adam Beck and Tyler Kleeberger describe how the unique demographics of rural churches bring not only the potential for intimacy and neighborliness but also an inherent diversity that forces smaller churches to do the hard work of creating unity amid differences. Sometimes it’s easier to love the idea of people rather than the people themselves. Particular people are messy.…

Leading Ideas
0 Top 10 Reasons Visitors Don’t Come Back

What do visitors say when asked why they don’t return to a church? Thom Rainer outlines the top 10 responses when hundreds of guests were surveyed about their experiences of visiting a church. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular posts of the past 20 years. We are pleased to…

Leading Ideas
0 Strengthening Online Worship Beyond the Pandemic

Lovett H. Weems Jr. says a continued commitment to online worship is not a hindrance that detracts from in-person worship but rather a vital way to reach new people and accomplish the church’s mission. But as this new worship option continues to evolve, congregations must commit to mastering the medium by learning, seeking feedback, and continuing to improve. I remember…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Questions to Develop Transformative Ministry Innovation

Meghan Hatcher outlines 10 guiding questions at the heart of a five-phase theological innovation process that helps churches develop, launch, and implement creative new ministry ideas. She shares how one Texas church employed this process, developed by the Innovation Laboratory, to design a new way of addressing an epidemic of teen anxiety and stress. Successful ministry innovation emphasizes process not…

Leading Ideas
0 To Lead Change, Leaders Need the Courage to Change Themselves

Mike Bonem says that healthy organizational change will not occur unless a leader is willing to reflect, learn, and grow. To lead well, you must have the courage to allow yourself to be changed. Whether you are a young or an experienced leader, you have made a considerable “investment” in your leadership. That investment includes formal education and training, time…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Key Characteristics of Diversity-Oriented Churches

Diversity-oriented churches, despite the challenges they face, are some of the fastest growing churches in the United States, says Brian Leander. He names seven characteristics that help explain how these churches are able to embrace greater racial, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic diversity. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular posts…

Leading Ideas
0 A New Model for Leading Change

What is God calling your church to do in the near future given your church’s mission and context?  Doug Powe and Lovett Weems outline key considerations for leaders who seek to innovate while also sustaining what is most essential in their ministries. Practicing innovative leadership is a necessity for all who care deeply about the faithful and fruitful stewardship of…

Leading Ideas
0 Equip Your People to Invite

Why aren’t your church members inviting others to church? It’s likely you’ve been asking them to invite their friends and neighbors without giving them the tools they need to do it. Here are thirteen practical ways to equip people to invite friends to church. When people invite others to your church, good things happen. You’ve probably preached or pleaded with…

Leading Ideas
0 The Coming Revolution in Church Economics: An In-Depth Interview with Mark DeYmaz

What if tithes and offerings no longer support your church’s operations? How can you create multiple streams of income by leveraging the value of your congregation’s people, programs, money, and buildings? This recap of a 2020 Leading Ideas Talks Podcast features a discussion between Mark DeYmaz and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff on The Coming Revolution in Church…

Leading Ideas
0 What Would Martin Luther King Jr. Say to the Church Today?

Anthony Hunt reflects on how Martin Luther King Jr. would address today’s social challenges by reimagining King’s 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Hunt posits a contemporary version of King’s letter that emphasizes the right and responsibility of voting and the need to continue to dream and hope for a better tomorrow. This year marks the 94th anniversary of Rev. Dr.…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Things Great Preachers Do Differently

What separates good preachers from great preachers? Charley Reeb, a Georgia pastor known as a gifted preacher, says talent is less important than approaching the task with the right perspective and preparing effectively. He outlines ten things that you can do to become a great preacher. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of…

Leading Ideas
0 Gen Z and Mental Health: An In-depth Interview with Josh Packard

How can church leaders better reach Gen Z? Doug Powe, Director of the Lewis Center, speaks with Josh Packard about Springtide Research Institute’s research including what faith leaders need to know about Gen Z’s religious beliefs and mental health.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Doug Powe: What is the research process for Spring…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Trends Impacting Church Leadership for 2023

Doug Powe, Ann Michel, and Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff identify five trends church leaders should keep in mind as they develop creative ministries to reach new people in 2023. From worship and hybrid ministry to relationship building, staffing, and finances, paying attention to these trends will help chart the course for the new year. As the new…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Congregation Making an Impact?

What metrics are most helpful in assessing your church’s health and vitality? Susan Nienaber says that, in this new chapter of the church’s history, congregations need a streamlined approach to setting priorities and goals. Focusing on weekly metrics may be less helpful than clarifying the desired outcomes of ministries and discerning what must be measured to determine success. Many congregations…

Leading Ideas
0 Bivocational By Choice: An In-Depth Interview with Ben Connelly

Can bivocational ministry be a strategic choice and not just a reluctant concession to financial constraints? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Ben Connelly about how bivocational ministry can enhance collaboration, deepen engagement with the mission field, and even promote the personal spiritual growth of bivocational ministry practitioners. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas Talks“ Podcast Episodes of 2022

What was trending in 2022? These are the top “Leading Ideas Talks” podcast episodes of the year as chosen by our nearly 20,000 subscribers. How Parents Pass Religious Faith to their Children What determines whether children will carry on the faith of their parents? Past research established that parents play the critical role. In this episode noted sociologist Christian Smith…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas“ Articles of 2022

What was trending in 2022? These are the top “Leading Ideas” articles of the year as chosen by our nearly 20,000 subscribers. The 5 P’s of Sustainability for Small Churches Rebekah Simon-Peter says small churches cannot succeed by emulating the megachurch model of programming for every stage of life. She believes that five P’s — people, prayer, provision, partnership, and…

Leading Ideas
0 When Christmas Falls on a Sunday

Why worship on Christmas Day? Jessica Anschutz and Doug Powe share important reasons for worshipping on Christmas Day and offer ideas for innovative, hybrid (or virtual) Christmas Day worship.  Why Worship on Christmas Day?  This year Christmas falls on a Sunday. In the past, we’ve noticed that some congregations chose not to gather for worship when Christmas fell on a…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Suggestions for Reaching More People this Christmas

Is your church ready to roll out the holiday welcome mat? Ann Michel offers seven suggestions for helping people meet Christ anew this Christmas. Equip your congregation so that visitors are warmly welcomed online and in person this holiday season.  This article is also available in Korean. 한국어 버전 Many congregations are joyfully anticipating this year’s Advent and Christmas season. In…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Key Questions to Focus Your Change Agenda

Successful change requires setting priorities. But how can a leader discern which goals are most important? Doug Powe and Lovett Weems suggest a series of questions that can help reveal which initiatives can make the most difference. Leaders routinely overreach when facing the struggles of a congregation. Instead of identifying the one innovative next step most critical for the church,…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Promises for Church Leaders Healing Trauma in Congregations

How can church leaders help their congregations heal from collective trauma? Ron Bell outlines four promises for church leaders to help congregations and people heal while still experiencing trauma, whether that trauma is related to race, environment, economic factors, culture, politics, or sex. The penultimate danger of unaddressed trauma is the ability to distort and dehumanize both its host and…

Leading Ideas
0 Getting Comfortable Preaching about Money and Generosity

Preaching on the topic of money is spiritually challenging. And it can also be personally challenging to leaders plagued by their own economic insecurity or discomfort in asking people to give. Meredith McNabb of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving says preachers must address their own concerns and fears about money talk so they can invite their people into…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Help Children Grow in Faith and Generosity

How can parents shape a generous spirit in their children? Ken Sloane outlines ten practical ways families can focus more intentionally on giving and gratitude, compassion, and service so that their children grow in faith and generosity.    Who doesn’t want to see our children grow up knowing how to manage money wisely and generously — acknowledging that all blessings come…

Leading Ideas
0 A Way Out of No Way: An In-Depth Interview with Kimberly Daniel

How can Christian innovation address the needs of people who are under-resourced and undervalued? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff interviews Kimberly Daniel about how Christian innovation can begin to break down barriers to wealth and flourishing.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Jessica Anschutz: I want to invite you to start off…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Church Spending Too Much or Too Little on Personnel?

How does your church spending on personnel compare to other churches? Lovett Weems reports averages of the percentage of total expenditures that congregations spend on all personnel. Church leaders often ask if their spending on personnel is reasonable in relation to comparable churches. This question is not easy to answer. We look first at some elements of church budgeting and…

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