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 Ways Churches Can Play a Critical Role in Vaccination Efforts

Asa J. Lee of Wesley Theological Seminary shares key learnings from a recent event at the Washington National Cathedral which highlighted the critical role churches can play in encouraging vaccinations and fighting the coronavirus. The Washington National Cathedral recently partnered with the nation’s top health agencies to host an event focused on the important role churches and religious organizations play…

Leading Ideas
0 Do You Need a Mission Statement for Your Post-Pandemic Transition Plan?

As congregations plan for a future with fewer pandemic-related restrictions, Lovett H. Weems Jr. says they need a standard for assessing various options. Without a clear connection to your primary mission your transition plan could easily be hijacked by those pushing hardest for their point of view or what neighboring churches are doing. Churches have spent the entire last year,…

Leading Ideas
0 Understanding Generation Z and Connecting with Their Passions

What are the unique characteristics of young people coming of age today? Rock Jones, president of Ohio Wesleyan University, describes a generation of digital natives who are highly connected but also lonely and anxious. Dr. Jones describes Gen Zers’ life questions, the perspectives they bring to spiritual engagement, and ways church leaders can meet them where they are. Listen to…

Leading Ideas
0 What’s Wrong with Thinking of Church as Family?

Lee Ann M. Pomrenke says the beloved metaphor of church as family can stand in the way of a congregation being truly open and inclusive. The church is a movement defined by shared values, commitments, and actions, not a household family linked by a shared heritage or appearances. “This church is like a family.” We say it like it is…

Leading Ideas
0 There’s No Going Back to the Pre-Pandemic Church

Kay Kotan says many churches feel a natural desire to return to the familiar, comfortable patterns of the past. But churches that embrace this time of disruption as a catalyst for lasting change are most likely to be vital in the post-pandemic world. The church as we knew it before the pandemic no longer exists. Yet, we do not know…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways Leaders Can Renew Their Hope and Strength

Today’s challenges require courage. Tom Berlin reminds us that hope is the wellspring of courage for Christians. And he outlines six practices that can rekindle our hope and refortify our strength to persist in our Christian callings. Courage is essential to the Christian life, but it must be yoked to hope in the power of God in our lives. Courage…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Stay Focused on Your Mission

Barry Winders says having a mission statement isn’t enough to keep your church focused and fruitful. Churches need to develop a mission filter — a question or statement designed to evaluate decisions and activities to determine their alignment with the mission. As a leader, have you found yourself comparing your mission and vision to what is happening in your organization?…

Leading Ideas
0 Helping People Connect with God through Nature

The natural world is our first way of knowing God, says Beth Norcross, an expert in spirituality and nature. Finding God in nature can reconnect people with faith and the biblical tradition, especially the growing percentage of younger people who are less attracted by the trappings of the institutional church. It seems like everyone’s outside these days. Despite COVID-19-related travel…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Paradigm Shifts for Mission Renewal

Tim Snyder and Paul Erickson say that congregational renewal involves a new way of being church and new approaches to our foundational callings. They outline 10 new ways of thinking essential to reimagining the church and its mission. Congregational renewal requires more than figuring out a better way to do what we’ve always done. Instead, we need to figure out…

Leading Ideas
0 Courage, Faith, and Resilient Leadership

What gives Christian leaders the courage to persist in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Tom Berlin on his new book Courage: Jesus and the Call to Brave Faith. He shares how courage emerges through faith, hope, and God-inspired convictions as we deepen our commitment to walk with Christ. Listen to this interview…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading with Imperfect Knowledge

Leaders today are faced with the challenge of deciding how to move forward with imperfect knowledge. Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says leaders must risk action when they have enough knowledge to head in the right direction. He outlines decision-making principles for situations when gathering all the data isn’t a realistic option. Bob Coutts, a retired executive at Lockheed Martin,…

Leading Ideas
0 The Myth of the One Big Idea

Scott Cormode explains how change efforts often fail because we risk everything on one big idea. Innovation flourishes within systems that generate lots of ideas. And a leader’s task is to plant and water the seeds of change to see which take root and grow. There is a giant redwood tree in my grandmother’s tiny backyard. Towering 60 feet tall,…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ground Rules for Candid Conversations

Tom Berlin says that candid conversation takes courage. But it also requires kindness and compassion. He suggests five practices for approaching difficult conversations with openness, honesty, sensitivity, and grace. There are few places where courage is more required than in the words we say to each other. Jesus demonstrates how the courage of candid dialogue enables us to create deeper…

Leading Ideas
0 Confronting 3 Crises: Pandemic, Racial Reckoning, and Political Violence

David Brubaker says congregational leaders are in the precarious position of responding to three simultaneous crises — the pandemic, racial reckoning, and political violence. This unprecedented situation requires that leaders stay connected with their people, lead from deeply held values, and name and grieve losses. What can a congregation do when a pandemic, a political crisis, and a racial reckoning…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Reasons You Must Not Abandon Your Online Services

Thom Rainer says it is a mistake for churches to give up their digital or streaming services after returning to in-person worship. He outlines seven reasons online worship can augment your place-based worship and reach the community. We are seeing the trends, and they are troubling. As churches return to in-person gatherings, they are abandoning their digital and streaming services.…

Leading Ideas
0 Giving for the Right Reasons

The Christian faith invites us to think about giving in new and countercultural ways. Giving faithfully and for the right reasons puts us in alignment with God’s purposes and brings joy. Our consumer culture sends us many messages about what it means to give and give well. Believing these messages draws us away from the faithful way, and in doing…

Leading Ideas
0 What Will Your Church Look Like Post-COVID-19?

Barry Winders says the COVID-19 crisis is a hinge point for the church. This pivotal time demands mission-focused leaders lest the church slip back into the busyness and nonmissional activities of the pre-COVID-19 past. Whether we accept it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is a hinge point for the church. The church’s mission remains the same. But the execution…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Church Ready to Receive a Large Gift?

Many churches dream of receiving a large gift or bequest, but few are prepared for the opportunities and challenges such a gift presents. Ken Sloane poses five simple questions to assess if your church is ready. I hear someone out there saying, “Are you kidding?” Yet, I suspect that many churches are not ready for the opportunities and challenges that…

Leading Ideas
0 Conquering the Challenges of Change

Why are churches so resistant to meaningful change? And what processes can help churches be more agile and innovative? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center shares key concepts in Scott Cormode’s book The Innovative Church about innovation and change. Why are churches so resistant to meaningful change? Yes, many are old, set in their ways, and inwardly focused. But in…

Leading Ideas
0 A Different Approach

Doug Powe of the Lewis Center suggests congregations take a different approach to Black History Month this year. He outlines ideas to encourage church members to think more deeply about faith and race through relational engagement, interracial dialogue, and substantive study. February is Black History Month. In some congregations, it may be a time to incorporate elements of religious expression…

Leading Ideas
0 When Is the Right Time for Strategic Planning?

Susan Beaumont says strategic plans are meant to guide stable organizations through long periods of adaptation. In seasons of disruption and disorientation, other leadership approaches are more appropriate to spur adaptation. Strategic planning: in some congregations it’s the “go-to” solution whenever leaders feel stuck. We need to grow. We want more families with young children. We don’t know what to…

Leading Ideas
0 The Promise of Digital Giving

Ann Michel says that as the church increasingly moves online, so too must the church’s ministry of generosity. But this future requires the capacity to receive digital gifts and skill in soliciting gifts electronically from people beyond the reach of Sunday services. Over the past two decades, as electronic transactions became the norm in our daily lives, most church offerings…

Leading Ideas
0 Reengaging People During Lent

Tom Berlin shares Floris United Methodist Church’s plan for reaching out during Lent to those feeling distant from the church. Each household will receive a Lenten gift bag with everything needed to participate in a Lenten study, join a small group, and attend Holy Week and Easter services. A sign in my office, visible behind me during Zoom meetings with…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Simple Ways to Grow New Leaders

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center suggests ways churches can breathe life into stagnant leadership structures by employing simple organic approaches to leadership development. The key is understanding how formal and informal leadership systems can work together in a healthy leadership culture. Has your congregation relied on the same group of leaders for decades? Some are burned out and in…

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