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 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.  Many congregations are joyfully anticipating this year’s Advent and Christmas season. In some parts of the country, congregations haven’t gathered…

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…

Leading Ideas
0 Churches Continue to Increase Lay Staff

How might staffing trends impact the ministry of your congregation? Lovett Weems reports on the increasing amount of personnel spending on lay staff in United Methodist congregations. As congregations seek to carry out their missions faithfully, they will want to assess their spending on personnel. In that process, they need to address spending that includes both clergy and lay staff.…

Leading Ideas
0 My 10 Biggest Leadership Mistakes

Ron Edmondson shares his biggest leadership mistakes so that you can learn from his experience. These leadership lessons point to the importance of honesty and humility, honoring the perspectives of others and attending to the Holy Spirit, and knowing when the time is right for action. I’ve made a lot of leadership mistakes. To help others learn from my experience,…

Leading Ideas
0 The Risk of Trying to Please Everyone

Mike Bonem says a process of meaningful change can be slowed, interrupted, or completely stopped if a leader insists on trying to please everyone. What is critical is building enough genuine support so that the effort can move forward. You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but…

Leading Ideas
0 Sustaining While Disrupting: An In-Depth Interview with Doug Powe and Lovett Weems

How can you bring about meaningful change in your church? F. Douglas Powe Jr. and Lovett H. Weems Jr. maintain that genuine change also involves continuity. Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews them about their new book Sustaining While Disrupting and how leaders can sustain key traditions and systems while simultaneously pursuing new initiatives and innovations. Listen to…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Practical Strategies for Nurturing a Culture of Generosity

Ann A. Michel and Lovett H. Weems Jr., authors of Generosity, Stewardship, and Abundance, say creating a culture of generosity requires creativity and consistency. They outline seven strategies that any church can deploy to deepen the link between faith and giving. The church’s task in inspiring generosity isn’t merely one of persuasion or education. Like other aspects of faith, generosity…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership Lessons from Jackie Robinson

Lovett H. Weems Jr. shares inspiring leadership lessons from the life of Jackie Robinson. Robinson faced challenges and adversity with courage and faith, while striving to make life better for others. October 24, 2022, marks the 50th anniversary of the death of an outstanding baseball player and, more significantly, an extraordinary man and an icon for the ideals of justice…

Leading Ideas
0 Genuine Change Involves Continuity

Doug Powe and Lovett Weems of the Lewis Center staff say that successful and lasting change is likely to come through evolution rather than revolution. Therefore, successful change leaders are both innovators and sustainers who give adequate attention to the traditions, people, programs, and assets that make innovation possible. Change is inherent in our theological heritage. People of faith are…

Leading Ideas
0 A Biblical Model of Leadership Transition

How does the leadership transition from Moses to Joshua provide insights for leaders today? Lee Kricher offers insights on this seamless leadership transition. Succession planning and preserving continuity of leadership are both evident in the most extensive biblical record of leadership transition — the account of the transition from Moses to Joshua. Several key principles emerge when this leadership transition…

Leading Ideas
0 Ideas on a Deadline: An In-Depth Interview with Phil Cooke

How can you be creative when facing deadlines? Doug Powe, Director of the Lewis Center, interviews media consultant Phil Cooke about gaining clarity about expectations, saying “no,” and stumbling blocks to creativity.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Doug Powe: Let me begin with talking about your new book, Ideas on a Deadline: How…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Tips for Building True Spiritual Community

When you move from being “in church” to being “in community,” your vision of others changes. Rebekah Simon-Peter offers five tips for daring to go to the soul and being in community. When we are “in church,” we come together as a group of people. We typically greet one another, join our voices together in song and prayer, hear the…

Leading Ideas
0 Adding New Income Lines to Your Church Budget

As you plan your budget, does your church focus primarily on expenses without considering the revenue side of the equation? Stewardship expert Grace Pomroy outlines seven creative possibilities for expanding revenue beyond tithes and offerings. In both of the stewardship classes I teach at Luther Seminary, I invite students to look at their congregation’s line-item budget. Each semester I receive…

Leading Ideas
0 Does an Aging Population Explain High Clergy Ages?

For most traditions, the disproportionate aging of clergy is a crucial challenge. Lovett H. Weems Jr. highlights some of the findings in the National Congregations Study (NCS) and names some of the challenges facing denominations today. A significant concern within many faith communities in recent years has been the increasing age of clergy in the United States. Such increases in…

Leading Ideas
0 Still Fewer Young United Methodist Elders in 2022

Lovett H. Weems Jr. reports that the declining number of young elders in the United Methodist Church has accelerated while the number of young deacons increased. The number of young clergy continues to be a cause for concern. For seventeen years, the Lewis Center for Church Leadership has issued annual reports on clergy age trends in the United Methodist Church.…

Leading Ideas
0 The Messy Art of Leading Change: An In-Depth Interview with Mike Bonem

How can you lead effectively given the inherent messiness of congregational life? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews leadership expert Mike Bonem on the art of leading change, responding to those who resist change, and the courage to allow yourself to be changed. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Ann Michel: In…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Leadership Shifts for the Current Reality

Olu Brown says that a new paradigm of leadership is required given the challenges of the present age. Church leaders need to shift the conversation from problems to promise, shift their outlook from church to community, and shift the momentum by believing that miracles can occur.  As a leader in this present age, your world and the people you lead…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Excellence in Ministry Matters

Michael White and Tom Corcoran say excellence in ministry is essential to capturing the time and attention of your congregation and community. More importantly, it honors God, inspires people, builds trust, and rebuilds the church.  Everybody has had the experience of going to a play, a movie, or a concert and being blown away by the production. We’ve all dined…

Leading Ideas
0 Ministering to Congregants Who Haven’t Returned Post-COVID-19

One in every three churchgoers has not returned to in-person worship services since the pandemic. Tricia K. Brown offers ideas for ministering to members of your congregation who have not yet returned to in-person worship.   According to Barna research, about one in every three churchgoers has not returned to in-person worship services since COVID-19 shutdowns ended. With that in mind, here are…

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