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 4 Clues for Inviting Others to Church Effectively

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says many people just don’t like inviting other people to church, in part because faith is so personal and in part because they fear rejection. He provides four clues for inviting in a way that is genuine, specific, honest, and expectant. Many of us have been in conversations about inviting new people to our congregation…

Leading Ideas
0 The Power of Conversation

Church consultant Bill Owen describes how effective leaders understand the importance of conversation in shaping culture. They learn the subtle art of reframing narratives in healthy and constructive ways. Church people talk. They talk about all kinds of things. They talk about the pastor, her sermon, how many people used to be in worship, and what we ought to be…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Keys to Cultivating an Environment Irresistible to Emerging Generations

Scott Crostek, pastor of Resurrection Downtown in Kansas City, says environments that are safe and welcoming for emerging generations are characterized not only by hospitality and authenticity, but also creativity, openness to holy mystery, and a sense of personal privacy. Irresistible leadership environments are spaces with an atmosphere that facilitates effective emotional, relational, spiritual, and theological connections with God and…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Tips for Effective Preaching on Stewardship

Preaching is a critical component within a broader strategy for stewardship ministry, says church consultant Margaret Marcuson. She provides six tips for more effective preaching on money and stewardship. It takes more than one good sermon to undergird the stewardship ministry of your congregation. Church leaders can put a lot of weight on that sermon or sermon series, but stewardship…

Leading Ideas
0 The Case of a Small Church in an Oversized Building

Lewis A. Parks, author of Small on Purpose, describes how smaller congregations can easily squander their last resources for ministry attempting to keep up with the mounting demands of an aging facility. He says such churches must decide for the people of God rather than their present building, before it’s too late. I came to Calvary United Methodist, Lemoyne, Pennsylvania,…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Church Need an Online Campus?

Multisite ministry expert Jim Tomberlin says having an internet campus involves more than just offering a video sermon online. It involves offering a full, virtual experience of church. He anticipates an explosion of internet campuses in the coming years. Called by many names — internet campus, iCampus, cyber church, digital church, virtual church, church in the cloud — an online…

Leading Ideas
0 Expecting the Best of People Can Bring Out Their Best

Lovett Weems shares the story of how a church leader brought around a critic of a new homeless ministry by approaching the individual with a presumption of grace rather than a presumption of judgment. A few years ago, a seminary student in my church leadership class was serving as an intern at an urban congregation. The church had a strong…

Leading Ideas
0 Your Website Probably Needs a Fresh Coat of Paint

Will Rice says church websites become out of date because people in the know stop paying attention. It takes a fresh set of eyes to point out what’s missing and what needs to be refreshed. I visited the website of a large church recently. I was looking for information on a special worship service they were having the next day.…

Leading Ideas
0 Missional Church: More than a Catchphrase

What does it really mean to be a missional church? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says it’s more than a catchphrase for activities aimed at congregational renewal. Congregations that are truly missional are not motivated by their internal institutional imperatives. They make a difference in the lives of others by focusing beyond themselves and offering others a glimpse of what…

Leading Ideas
0 Revitalizing Worship is More than a Question of Style

L. Roger Owens and Donna Claycomb Sokol, authors of New Day in the City, say re-imagining worship to better reach new people involves more than asking if they prefer a traditional, contemporary, or blended style. The starting point must be a clear understanding of the theological purpose of worship. Then, asking how your worship engages your cultural context and your…

Leading Ideas
0 The Qualities of Competent Intercultural Leadership

As multiculturalism takes hold in U.S. churches, there is a greater need for competent intercultural leaders, says Brian Leander of Adelphi University. He says “culturally intelligent” leaders in diversity-oriented churches are highly interested in experiences with other cultures and interactions with people from other cultures. They articulate a vision for diversity and share their vision and values with other leaders.…

Leading Ideas
0 An Annual Meeting as a Celebration of Faithfulness

How can you turn a routine, boring business meeting into something more celebratory and faith-filled? Tom Tumblin describes how the awarding of an annual servant leadership award turned a congregation’s annual meeting into an inspiring reminder of how the hand of God is at work in their faith community. One of my favorite memories from a church where I served…

Leading Ideas
0 Networks and Third Places are Today’s Mission Field

Where is community discovered in our time? In their book Fresh Expressions, Ken Carter and Audrey Warren argue that people today are less likely to be connected through their geographical neighborhood or nearby church. The virtual networks and “third places” where people gather are, therefore, an increasingly significant mission field. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, networks are emerging…

Leading Ideas
0 Staying Attuned to Your Community

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., writes that congregations all start not for themselves, but to serve other people. But with the passage of time, they tend to turn in on themselves and lose their connections to the broader community. Revitalization requires finding deliberate ways to “bring the outside in.” One of the most significant counterintuitive realities about churches is that the…

Leading Ideas
0 Difficult Conversations

Olu Brown, founding pastor of the fast-growing Impact Church in Atlanta, says that difficult conversations just come with the territory if you are a leader. He recommends confronting these situations with honesty, whether the difficult conversation is with yourself, others, or with God. Leadership is filled with a series of difficult conversations! I have tried to avoid difficult conversations and…

Leading Ideas
0 Beyond Hospitality to Inclusion

David Brubaker says that most congregations are quick to welcome newcomers but slow to extend a much deeper form of acceptance — genuine inclusion in the life of the community. Inclusion is an adaptive challenge, but one that is essential to congregational growth. Nearly every congregation wants to perceive itself as an open community that welcomes newcomers. Yet congregational leaders…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership for Giving

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains how the four cornerstones of effective church leadership — vision, team, culture, and integrity — are all essential when leading a congregation toward greater generosity. Vision The single most common theme in all studies of leadership is the presence of a powerful common shared vision. A vision is a picture of a preferred future to…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Reasons Not to Fear a Major Gift Campaign

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says a capital campaign or major gift drive can be a positive experience that energizes a church and spurs greater generosity. She lists five reasons why they are motivating for givers as well as beneficial to a church. Many congregations are so daunted by the prospect of undertaking a major fundraising effort that…

Leading Ideas
0 Simple Strategies for Raising Up New Leaders

The need to develop new leaders is vital to the future of individual congregations and the church as a whole. Church consultant and author Kay Kotan suggests some simple, organic approaches to identifying and equipping new persons for ministry roles in your church. Leadership development comes up nearly every time I work with pastors and churches. I have come to…

Leading Ideas
0 Reluctant Leadership

Congregations often struggle to fill vital ministry roles because new leaders are reluctant to step forward. Lewis Center director Doug Powe names three critical factors in overcoming this reluctance — clarifying the function of each role, clearly defining the required time commitment, and allaying fears about the potential for controversy. Congregations often face a leadership dilemma. No one wants to…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Practices to Help Prevent Clergy Burnout

Matt and Kim Bloom, principal researchers with the Flourishing in Ministry research initiative, explain why clergy are at risk of burnout. Their research has found that four types of “recovery experiences” are effective in avoiding burnout. Burnout is real and it has real consequences. There’s a great deal of research to suggest that burnout not only undermines performance, but is…

Leading Ideas
0 Should you Take an Electronic Sabbath?

Virginia pastor Thomas James, a leading voice on the use of social media in ministry, says our modern world may require a new vision of Sabbath involving how we relate to our electronic devices. But before unplugging too quickly, he says it’s worthwhile to ask, “What parts of our digital lives produce distractions and which ones enhance connections?” As working…

Leading Ideas
0 Preparing for the Shift

Incoming Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says that demographic shifts will bring increased diversity to the neighborhoods around most churches in the coming decades. Rather than simply ignoring changes, churches can prepare for this shift by being in conversation with new neighbors, risking new ministry initiatives, and making room at the table for new voices. Depending on what census report…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Things I Need from a Sermon

What do those in the pews need from a sermon? Larry Buxton says it’s more than platitudes and common sense. An effective sermon needs to speak to people’s real needs and individual situations, challenge them with meaningful truths, share Jesus, and remind people that God is at work in our lives and the world. Since retiring from full-time parish ministry…

Leading Ideas
0 Sources of Authority for Pastoral Leadership

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains that while people may give pastors a leadership position, the true authority needed to lead must be worked out among the people with whom they serve. One’s authority in ministry is rooted not just in one’s calling from God, but in multiple callings, including the calling from the church and the calling of the particular…

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