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 3 Strategies for Doing Church Online

Heidi Campbell, who has studied online churches since the early days of the internet, describes three online church strategies that have emerged during the pandemic. The most common strategies mirror or modify the aspects of normal worship. But she sees the greatest promise in strategies that reimagine worship to take advantage of the unique possibilities of digital technology. Three dominant…

Leading Ideas
0 The Search for New Leaders Begins with Prayer

Ken Willard and Kelly Brown say that prayer and study are necessary first steps in creating a leadership pathway for your church. They present six ideas for laying a spiritual foundation for a new leadership development process. Leaders tend to be people of action. This is a very good thing! But we suggest you ensure a strong foundation of prayer…

Leading Ideas
0 COVID-19 Reminds Us of Crucial Church Finance Safeguards

Lovett Weems says the pandemic reveals the importance of certain essential financial practices for churches. Maintaining a reserve fund, expanding giving options, and setting realistic budgets can help a congregation weather tough times. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought tragedy and hardship to millions of persons throughout the world. Among them are church members who are experiencing grief, financial loss, and…

Leading Ideas
0 Good Communication Requires More Than Just Sharing Information

Trying to improve communication by sharing more and more information is likely to backfire, according to Ryan Hartwig and Warren Bird. Effective communication is aimed at creating shared meaning, structuring decision making, and coordinating leadership activities, not just transmitting information. Church leadership teams often struggle with communication because they don’t understand what communication truly is. When communication is seen simplistically…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading between Faith and Patriotism

Lovett H. Weems Jr. writes that preaching at the time of a national holiday offers opportunities and dangers. He says it is important to approach the holiday theme through the lens of biblical faith, especially in today’s deeply polarized political climate. National holidays and celebrations offer both opportunities and dangers for congregations and their leaders. Preachers and worship leaders often…

Leading Ideas
0 Discipling People in Midlife and Beyond

Older adults are leaving or downsizing church involvement at rates comparable to that of younger adults, says Michelle Van Loon. Churches that typically focus most of their energy on early-stage faith training need to give similar attention to the spiritual needs of those in the second half of life. A high percentage of our churches tend to approach the task…

Leading Ideas
0 Connection is More Important than Content in Digital Gatherings

Zach Lambert of Restore Austin Church says that the move to digital gatherings reveals that content is important, but our connections are imperative. He believes online ministry must intentionally create spaces where deep friendship can blossom. Restore Austin Church has been livestreaming our Sunday gatherings since the debut of Facebook Live in April of 2016, just two months after our…

Leading Ideas
0 Rethinking Esther’s Leadership

Esther’s story turns in many ways on a very traditional understanding of female roles and influence. But Esther’s capacity for innovative and creative leadership offers positive leadership lessons as well, writes F. Douglas Powe, Jr., Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, and James C. Logan, Chair of Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship), at Wesley Theological Seminary. Imagine…

Leading Ideas
0 Online Worship Makes Evangelism Less Intimidating for Many

One apparent advantage of an online worship format is that people seem to be more inclined to extend and respond to invitations to check out church online. Virtual evangelism is proving easier, less intimidating, and more spontaneous than face-to-face evangelism. Anecdotal evidence suggests that worship attendance has increased rather significantly for many congregations that are now worshipping online in comparison…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Traits People Value in Online Faith Communities

In the rush to offer online worship, many churches have focused primarily on technical and programmatic concerns. Heidi Campbell says it’s more important to consider what people need from church now and how digital technology can meet those needs. I find most pastors and churches focus their attention on the pragmatic aspects of doing church online. This includes asking what…

Leading Ideas
0 Committing to a Hybrid Model of Ministry

Tom Berlin says churches will likely need a hybrid ministry model with a mix of in-person and online ministry for some time. He shares thoughts on how churches can embrace this approach and focus their efforts as they move forward. Are you barraged by a cacophony of voices with conflicting advice on what your church should do next? Open immediately.…

Leading Ideas
0 New Pastors Should Make Time to Listen

Sidney Williams writes that a top priority for a new pastor needs to be listening to the stories of congregants to discern needs, learn who the leaders are, and build community. The importance of spending time listening, sharing, laughing, and crying together cannot be overstated. The first year of a pastoral assignment is often referred to as the honeymoon phase,…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading in an Age of Political Polarization

David Brubaker says leaders need different skills in this age when deep political divisions affect our families, congregations, and communities. It requires clarity, compassion, courage, and connection. Leading in a polarized environment requires a very different set of skills. While thoughtful leaders normally want to plan a process, form a team, and work for consensus, patience with process and finding…

Leading Ideas
0 Why the Church’s Mission Really Matters in this Time of Crisis

Anthony Hunt says crisis reveals the strength of the church’s ministries of connection and message of hope. Even with changing patterns of interaction, we need ministries of prayer, community support, and missional engagement more than ever. The circumstances presented by the COVID-19 crisis have presented churches and leaders with unprecedented opportunities and challenges. They have had to discover new ways…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Reopening a Church is Different

Alex Shanks says the question of whether to reopen is different for a church than for other institutions. Rather than just reacting to what others are doing, churches need to model responsible decision making and exceed basic health guidelines to protect the most vulnerable. Everywhere we turn, people are talking about reopening. Should churches simply follow the same guidelines regarding…

Leading Ideas
0 Finding Our New Normal

This season of change calls for a new leadership stance. Susan Beaumont outlines five practices that can help you lead more effectively as you discover the new normal for your congregation. We are in a liminal season, stuck between an ending and a new beginning. The pathway forward is not knowable. The way we “did church” even two months ago…

Leading Ideas
0 Effective Pastoral Transitions in the Time of COVID-19

How can a pastor moving from one congregation to the next make a successful transition given the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis? Lovett H. Weems Jr. says the challenges of the day demand creativity and flexibility. But it is also more important than ever to follow normal best practices for making a right start. The challenging circumstances of the…

Leading Ideas
0 Communicating in a Crisis

Church consultant Mike Bonem says leaders need to step up their communication in this season of anxiety and uncertainty. It is important to be transparent, hopeful, and focused on the mission. Communication is one of a leader’s most important responsibilities and most powerful tools. Even though effective communication is known to be vital, it is frequently overlooked or poorly executed.…

Leading Ideas
0 Get Ready for the New Normal

As restrictions on gatherings imposed by the COVID-19 crisis begin to ease, congregations are likely to find themselves in a both/and reality. They will need to sustain an enhanced digital presence while at the same time resume normal patterns of gathering. Now is the time to strategize and put teams in place to support the challenges and opportunities of this…

Leading Ideas
0 Key Questions to Consider Before Resuming In-Person Gatherings

Many congregations are eager to reopen their buildings and resume in-person worship services, but it’s important to resist the temptation to rush back before it’s safe. The Lewis Center staff has assembled this list of key questions to consider before a church can safely resume gathering. With many states and jurisdictions beginning to ease COVID-19 restrictions, churches need to assess…

Leading Ideas
0 When You Don’t Know Who’s Worshiping

Lee Roorda Schott says that unseen people you don’t yet know are likely worshiping with you online. She says this is an opportunity to enlarge our communities and offers strategies to help these digital newcomers feel included and welcomed. You used to know who was in the worship services you were leading or attending. You could look around and you…

Leading Ideas
0 11 Provocative Thoughts and Questions About What’s Next

Bill Wilson shares 11 provocative thoughts and questions regarding how the future of the church will be shaped by the implications of the cornonavirus pandemic. He says this crisis catapulted the church forward and we cannot ignore the lessons learned. What’s on the horizon for congregations and parishes as we transition from the crisis of the moment to the long-term…

Leading Ideas
0 Digital Church Is Here to Stay

Carey Nieuwhof says the post-COVID-19 world will be a different place. The move to digital worship is here to stay, he predicts. Putting it back on the shelf in the new normal would ignore the greatest opportunity the church today has to reach people. By now you’ve realized that the COVID-19 pandemic is not an interruption nearly as much as…

Leading Ideas
0 How Should Leaders Respond to an External Shock?

Leaders need to focus on core mission and values in the face of a powerful external shock says Meredith McNabb of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. Addressing this crisis with integrity, confidence, and hope requires knowing your congregation and its purpose. COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, has upended the lives of congregations’ members, overturned patterns of life…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Congregation a Swamp, a Reservoir, or a Canal?

Is your congregation cut off and inwardly focused? Primarily a storehouse of resources? Or a connector that brings things together? The images of swamp, reservoir, and canal can reveal the challenges and opportunities impacting your church’s vitality says F. Douglas Powe, Jr., Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, and James C. Logan, Chair of Evangelism (an E. Stanley…

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