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 Leading Unafraid

How can church leaders confront the fear that prevents congregations from dealing with controversial issues or taking necessary risks? Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, outlines perspectives and strategies drawn from his new book Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times.  Successful people are willing to do the things that…

Leading Ideas
0 From Parking Lot to Pew: Turning Building Users into Worshipers

Many churches provide meeting space for community groups hoping that building users will eventually show up for worship. But for a church to reach new people through its facility, it must engage in an active, intentional process of building relationships with those using the building, according to Kay Kotan and Phil Schroeder. Who is in and out of your church…

Leading Ideas
0 Setting the Right Expectations for Volunteers

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe Jr. says it can be difficult to hold volunteers to high standards of job performance, but clear position descriptions, mentoring, and regular evaluation and feedback can help assure that volunteers will do their jobs well. What can churches justifiably expect from volunteers? It is one thing when someone is getting compensated to perform a…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Parking Lot Helping or Hurting Your Church?

Believe it or not, your parking lot could be the thing that is holding back the potential of your church, according to church growth expert Rich Birch. He describes how a tired-looking parking lot creates a poor first impression and offers five tips for launching a parking lot team. The first thing that most people typically see about your church…

Leading Ideas
0 Unsticking a “Stuck” Institution

Four years ago, Amy Butler stepped into the pulpit of The Riverside Church in Manhattan, a church well known for its public witness and prominent pastoral leaders. She shares advice on taking the helm of a well-established congregation and leading change within a historic institution. Those of us called to lead institutions with long and prominent histories have a big…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Know if Your Church Needs A Strategic Plan

Chris Bennett, a Virginia pastor who helps other congregations develop strategic plans, outlines a set of questions that can help your church decide if a strategic planning process is what’s needed to gain clarity around your next steps and develop positive momentum. You may have heard the saying, “Let go and let God.” While it’s not a direct biblical quote,…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Traps for Clergy When Moving to a New Congregation

Bill Wilson of the Center for Healthy Churches says that the arrival of a new minister can be a marvelous opportunity to start anew for both the minister and the congregation — but only if the pastor steers clear of four common traps that can derail the new relationship. In a recent conversation, a minister asked me what I thought…

Leading Ideas
0 Stewardship in Times of Transition

Angela Denker describes how stewardship and giving can be difficult in times of pastoral transition in churches. She says it is critical that stewardship be rooted in faith and in God’s mission, not in the individual pastor’s particular vision. Transitions are hard. Change is hard. Transitions are often especially hard in the church. Not long ago, I left a beloved call…

Leading Ideas
0 Begin with Where

Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of the historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal church in downtown Washington, DC, considers what it means for an older urban church to thrive in a changing context while remaining committed to its history and values. Many church leaders today are asking “What are we to do?” and “How are we to do the things…

Leading Ideas
0 Positively Urgent

Mike Bonem says a sense of urgency is necessary to propel change, but that urgency need not come from a negative sense of doom and gloom. Urgency can also be generated by a positive sense of hope and opportunity. Good leaders create positive urgency. I have championed the value of urgency for over 25 years. It began when I read…

Leading Ideas
0 Fostering the Courage to Lead

David McAllister-Wilson, president of Wesley Theological Seminary, sees courage as essential to church leadership. He explains how courage is formed not through study or proclamation, but within groups where people care about one another and are committed to a common mission. Courage is an essential virtue necessary for faithful leadership. Think of the courage it takes to walk into the…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Key Practices for Connecting with Your Context

Mark Gornik and Maria Liu Wong have been working to understand new practices of ministry that are emerging in vital and diverse urban settings. They have discerned five important themes and practices in how good, sustainable, and flourishing ministry occurs in cities, and in other settings as well. Practices of Ministry in the City is an initiative at City Seminary…

Leading Ideas
0 Can Church Leaders Help Reframe the Gun Debate?

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says that church leaders can make a difference on issues of extreme political polarization such as guns, if they put themselves in the role of interpreter, reframer, questioner, and fellow seeker. Exemplary leaders develop the art of framing or reframing an issue. They learn that their first response to a contentious issue is not their personal…

Leading Ideas
0 Lead, Learn, Launch: Getting Started with Digital Giving

Need a roadmap for getting started with electronic giving in your church? Alex Benson of Luther Seminary outlines a three-step process for implementing the methods of giving that most churchgoers prefer and regularly use in other financial transactions. Did you know that 34 percent of churchgoers prefer to give by recurring payment via credit card? That the number of checks…

Leading Ideas
0 The One-Point Sermon

Charley Reeb, a Florida pastor known as a gifted preacher, says that it’s often easiest for listeners to stay focused when a sermon is organized around one point. But that point must be both clear and compelling. Once, I had just preached what I thought was a pretty good sermon. It was chock full of points, quotes, and anecdotes. As…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways to Extend the Impact of a Sermon

Mike Schreiner and Ken Willard describe ways to get more traction from each week’s sermon by layering its message into other materials that reinforce the teaching — such as weekly devotionals or study guides — and by posting it online. For most pastors and church staff persons, the weekend service of message and worship demands a disproportionate amount of weekly…

Leading Ideas
0 Moving Beyond Church in A Box

Pastor Carey Nieuwhof says congregations need to break free of the mentality that people need to come to church at a set time and place to be in relationship with Christ. Churches need to innovate and keep experimenting to reach people, for example, through digital outreach, remote locations, and pop-up churches. Too many church leaders are perfectly equipped to reach…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways Your Quarterly Giving Statements Can Make the Right Statement

Stewardship expert Ken Sloane outlines ideas for making sure that your church’s quarterly giving statements express gratitude and let people know the difference their giving makes, rather than coming across like an impersonal bill or dues statement. When you open your mail, would you rather receive a bill or a nice, handwritten thank-you note?  As we approach the time of…

Leading Ideas
0 When Churches Hire Members

It is increasingly common for churches to hire their own members. Ann Michel of the Lewis Center suggests we need to consider how congregations and the church members in their employ can best navigate what is admittedly a gray area with potential risks and rewards for both employee and employer. I often hear people say, “A church should never hire…

Leading Ideas
0 What is Your Signature Ministry?

In their book Small Church Check Up, Kay Kotan and Phil Schroeder say stable, smaller churches can remain vital by focusing on a “signature ministry,” providing one key ministry with excellence, rather than trying to be everything to everybody. Often churches try to do too many things, being all things to all people without doing any ministry with excellence. Churches…

Leading Ideas
0 Boring Announcements? Try Fun Video Announcements

Texas pastor Laura Heikes shares how weekly worship announcements in her church went from being a boring ritual to a source of life and joy when different people from the community were asked to deliver the announcements via video. When you think of announcements, what comes to mind? Glazed expressions? Last minute requests? A list so long it hurts? Now…

Leading Ideas
0 Billy Graham: Prophet of American Righteousness

Lovett H. Weems Jr. examines the legacy of Billy Graham — his miraculous rise to prominence, his ability to transcend denominational differences, and his engagement with the public leaders of his day in a spirit that fostered unity over polarization. Billy Graham, whom Garry Wills once called “the closest thing to a national pope that we shall ever see,” died…

Leading Ideas
0 Developing an Intentional Discipleship System

Junius B. Dotson says that churches cannot do the hard and intentional work of making disciples unless they are clear about what a disciple is and how disciples are formed. He outlines the key characteristics of a more intentional system for forming disciples. If you say to average church leaders, “Tell me a little about what your church does,” they…

Leading Ideas
0 16 Signs Your Church May Need a Renewed Focus on Disciple Making

Mike Schreiner and Ken Willard say too many churches are driven by structure and programs, not the imperative of making disciples. They outline 16 symptoms related to membership, service, finances, and fruitfulness that may indicate that your church needs to renew its focus on disciple making. A discipleship process is an intentional method created to help individuals continually grow closer…

Leading Ideas
0 A New Start in Lent

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says that congregations, as well as individuals, can make a new start during Lent by giving up some things, like fear or lethargy, or taking up other things, like risk and new rhythms. Typically, we think of Lent and Ash Wednesday as times of individual soul searching. Lent is a time for each of…

1 2 3 32

Shop