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 Stop Telling People to Turn Off Their Smartphones in Church

Olu Brown says telling people to turn off their cellphones in worship sounds crazy to technologically progressive people who rely on their devices for just about everything. Instead, they should be invited to use them to engage worship more deeply. It always strikes me as funny when a church leader announces to a congregation that the sanctuary is a place…

Leading Ideas
0 A Simple Step-by-Step Process for Creating a Narrative Budget

Church finance expert Bonnie Ives Marden says presenting your budget in narrative form provides a powerful tool for stewardship, evangelism, and marketing. She outlines a step-by-step process for converting a standard line item budget to an inspiring document that highlights your mission. A picture is worth a thousand words! A narrative budget presentation that converts your line item budget into…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Strategies for Reversing the 80/20 Rule

How can a congregation move beyond having a small percentage of congregants doing the lion’s share of the work? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe outlines four simple strategies to expand the pool of participants in your church’s ministry. Many of us are familiar with the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of parishioners typically do 80 percent of the work in congregations.…

Leading Ideas
0 How a Strategically Planned Stewardship Campaign Increased Giving

Stewardship expert Catherine Malotky shares the success story of a church that approached groups of members who had different giving histories with different invitations to give and enjoyed a 30 percent increase in annual giving. Some strategies inspire generosity more effectively than others, so we did a little fundraising experiment in our congregation last fall. We decided to categorize our…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Nostalgia Sabotaging Your Church’s Future?

Matt Miofsky says that a sentimental longing for the past often distorts a church’s perspective on change and keeps it from seeing new paths. While nostalgia is normal, we need to see it for what it is and not let it keep us from claiming a new future. The dictionary definition of nostalgia involves a sentimental longing for the past.…

Leading Ideas
0 First-time Visitor’s Survey Invites Feedback and Holy Conversation

When Harvest Church in South Georgia sends a follow-up message to worship visitors it includes a request for their feedback. This opens the door to holy conversation and invites visitors to help strengthen the church, making them a part of the church’s mission from the very first day. One local church in South Georgia, Harvest in Warner Robbins, has offered…

Leading Ideas
0 Come on, Pastor. Is Your Job Really Tougher Than Mine?

It can be hard to be a pastor. But Jayson Bradley reminds us that job frustrations and challenges are not unique to the ministry. By constantly harping on the difficulties of pastoring, one projects personal frustration onto congregants and implies that their struggles and challenges aren’t as significant. Google “being a pastor is hard” and you’ll get over 26 million…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways Not to Respond to Criticism

Criticism is almost unavoidable for leaders, says Maxie Dunnam. What is key is knowing how to handle it appropriately. An old saying was right, “Criticism is something you can avoid easily — by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” For leaders, criticism is inevitable. How we handle it determines whether it becomes a “little fox that spoils the vines.”…

Leading Ideas
0 Quit Making Assumptions

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says incoming leaders are often frustrated when others assume that they already know the ins and outs of the job. He says it is critical to stop making assumptions and provide new staff or volunteers with all the information and support they need. How many times have you found yourself frustrated when taking on a…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Simple Mind Shifts that Unlock Outreach Potential

Every church wants to reach new people, but unhelpful attitudes and practices get in the way. Kevin Harney outlines seven simple adjustments to our ways of thinking that can enhance outreach and evangelism. Our thinking shapes our actions. Sometimes a simple adjustment in our thinking can have far-reaching repercussions. If we shift the way we look at the world and…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Turnoffs for Millennials Seeking a Church

Drawing on research conducted by the Barna Group, Jeremy Steele outlines some of the turnoffs for millennials when they visit new churches. An outdated digital presence and a lack of diversity top the list. Even though there are a growing number of “nones” (individuals who claim no religious affiliation) among the millennials, Barna reveals this does not indicate disinterest in…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Overcome Common Obstacles to Change

Leading change is challenging. It requires that leaders surmount a barrage in internal and external obstacles. Daniel Cash and William Griffith outline strategies for getting beyond some of the common hurdles that can block needed change. Leading is a challenge in the most tranquil of circumstances within congregations today. When you add the layer of introducing or working toward change…

Leading Ideas
0 New Possibilities are All around You

Churches often see their circumstance through the lens of scarcity and fail to recognize assets and opportunities within their grasp. Joe Daniels and Christie Latona explain how adopting a mindset of abundance can reveal overlooked assets and open new possibilities. Jesus taught his disciples — and teaches us — to assume that there’s always a fish sandwich in the crowd.…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways Preaching Can Boost Worship Attendance

Popular preacher and author Charley Reeb shares four preaching strategies to grow your church, all based on the notion that we have to connect with people’s interests and meet them where they are. Pastors will disagree on just about anything except their common desire to grow a church. Even the humblest of pastors secretly wants to see more people in…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Develop New Leaders

Marv Nelson says lending influence to younger leaders is an essential way of affirming and developing them. He outlines five ways you can use your personal influence to strengthen and support emerging leaders. One of the best ways to affirm young emerging leaders and the best way to let them know you believe in them is to give them influence.…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Keys to Great Online Worship Hospitality

Olu Brown says churches that livestream their worship need to be intentional about making online attendees feel welcome by showing love through hospitality. He outlines five ways to connect more effectively with those who worship remotely. More and more churches across the country are using online worship to reach people beyond their current circle of influence and are seeing new…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Things Bad Leaders Tell Themselves and Their Teams

Carey Nieuwhof explains that ineffective leaders tend to lay the blame on seven common excuses. Successful leaders are aware of these traps and lead people beyond them. Nobody sets out to be a bad leader. You didn’t. I didn’t. Yet according to a Gallup study, only 18% of managers have a “high degree of talent” in leading people, which includes…

Leading Ideas
0 Welcoming Is the Top Factor in Church Choice

A recent study among spiritual seekers aged 25–49 suggests they have a strong desire for genuine community. Knowing everyone will be welcomed, making friends and nurturing friendships, and support during difficult times were the top motivating factors in considering a church. A survey of spiritual “seekers” released last year found that the top motivators for considering a church are knowing…

Leading Ideas
0 Before You Rent Church Space, Calculate the Costs

Churches often struggle to determine a fair price when they rent space to community groups. Partners for Sacred Spaces, an organization helping congregations develop creative community partnerships, says the hard costs of maintaining any shared space is an objective factor that must be considered in determining the rental value. It’s not always easy to pin a dollar value on our…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Suggestions for Welcoming New Pastors

Barry Howard outlines ways a congregation can prepare spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally for the arrival of a new pastor to make the most of a new beginning. When a congregation welcomes a new pastor, it is an exciting time, a new beginning for both the congregation and the new minister. To maximize this new beginning, it is important to prepare…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Build Your Social Media Presence

The use of social media is so prevalent today that it is essential for churches to master ways of creating connections and community online. Lia McIntosh, Jasmine Smothers, and Rodney Smothers outline four critical steps in building your church’s social media presence. With 1.5 billion users on Facebook, the majority of our U.S. communities and most churchgoers are connected using…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Ways Leaders Can Respond to Conflict Constructively

Leaders need to understand the emotional dimensions of conflict and minimize the inevitable anxiety and systematic stress. Leadership Consultant Peter L. Steinke draws on the wisdom of family systems theory to outline nine beneficial responses to a system in uproar. In times of crisis, a system functions best when its key leaders regulate their anxiety. It is a crucial time…

Leading Ideas
0 Prayer is the Spiritual Electricity of Congregational Revitalization

Sue Nilson Kibbey says a robust prayer life can be a powerful catalyst for congregational renewal. It can shift a church’s gaze “up and out,” countering negativity and doubt. Leaders live into their prayers with an openness that powers transformation when they pray with the genuine expectation that it really does make a difference. If your church or ministry is…

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