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 What Happened in One Small Church Mattered

Roger Lovette shares the touching story of returning to the first church he ever served,  thirty years later, to find they had finally acted on his recommendation to relocate to a more desirable location. The story is a reminder that change takes time and, more importantly, that transformative ministry continues along the way, keeping church going and making it holy…

Leading Ideas
0 People Too Busy to Serve? Teach Them to Steward Their Time

Lewis Center Staffer Ann A. Michel says people who think they are too busy to serve at church should be challenged to reexamine their priorities and make first fruits commitments of their time. Helping people steward God’s precious gift of time can free them from chronic busyness and allow them to experience the joy of serving. These days, it seems…

Leading Ideas
0 Engaging Young Adults Through Innovation

Ebonie Johnson Cooper describes how involving young adults in an innovative process of ministry design can enhance their church participation. She outlines five pilot initiatives that are proving fruitful at Reid Temple AME Church in Maryland. Contrary to popular belief, young adult Christians are not a monolithic group. We do not think alike. We do not worship God alike. And…

Leading Ideas
0 Welcoming Change Begins with You

Simple habits of congregational life, such as always sitting in the same pew or greeting the same people after worship, might seem normal and innocuous. But they can be unwelcoming and off-putting to newcomers. The good news is, simple steps to disrupt these habits can make a big difference to visitors and these changes can begin with you! We are…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tips for Launching a Church-School Partnership

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff outlines four ways a church can lay a solid foundation for a church-school partnership before jumping in headfirst. Listening, learning, establishing trust, and building solid relationships are key first steps. Many congregations find that reaching out to their local schools is an important way to serve children and their families and strengthen ties…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Questions to Assess Your Church’s Financial Health

Lovett H. Weems Jr. says paying attention to various indices of your congregation’s financial health is a key practice in remaining economically viable and sustaining vital ministry. He offers nine questions to help focus attention on important considerations related to your church’s long-term financial sustainability. 1. What percentage of your operating budget is funded through recurring and predictable sources of…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Steps for Putting Good Ideas into Action

Missouri Pastor Jim Hoffman discusses how a five-step process for evaluating and testing possible new initiatives can help churches develop and implement ideas in a more thorough and systematic manner. Have you wondered why your congregation continues to struggle despite the many proposals for new or improved ministry? Many congregations regularly generate new ideas for new program initiatives, new ways…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways Female Leaders Undermine Themselves

Church consultant Susan Beaumont says that power accrues more easily to men than women in our culture, so women need to be especially savvy about how they use their power. She outlines five common ways that women can undermine themselves when it comes to using power. We’ve all seen this happen: A woman suggests an idea or solution to a…

Leading Ideas
0 Who is Looking for a Church Home?

John Zehring, author of Get Your Church Ready to Grow, says it’s helpful for a church to focus its outreach on categories of people who might be more receptive to finding a new church home, such as recently divorced or widowed persons, those new to the neighborhood, or inactive members interested in reengaging. There are many categories of people with…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Lies We Like to Tell About Church Growth

Church consultant Dan Hotchkiss exposes some of the reassuring lies that cause many churches to stagnate at a comfortable size while ignoring well-established truths about church growth. Growth, he says, requires doing something new. Some churches grow, and others shrink. Most oscillate for decades around a size they find comfortable. Whether your church is trying to achieve escape velocity from…

Leading Ideas
0 Planning for a Strong Finish to Your Stewardship Campaign

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says the success of a pledge drive depends in large part on reaching givers who require a bit more encouragement. So, even after Commitment Sunday has come and gone, you need a plan for critical but often overlooked steps such as following up with those who don’t initially respond and thanking those who…

Leading Ideas
0 2 Churches — 1 Pastor

It is increasingly common for a congregation to share a pastor with another congregation and for pastors to be serving more than one church. Lew Parks, author of Small on Purpose, considers this trend and some of the skills and perspectives needed in multi-church settings. One of the most significant sociological and organizational trends in the church today is the…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Key Practices for Building a High-Trust Culture

Amy Valdez Barker says that the church should be a training center in the development of trust. She names practices that leaders can employ when groups come together to create environments that foster and facilitate a high-trust culture. The church should be one of the primary training centers in building high-trust communities and high-trust cultures. Our faith in Jesus requires…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Tips for Avoiding Digital Communication Disasters

Church consultant Joel Snider says that serious congregational conflicts can be caused or exacerbated by the poor use of electronic communication. Congregations can work to develop a common understanding of appropriate and inappropriate uses of digital communication, says Snider, and he offers seven key principles for forging a digital communication covenant. Have you ever sent a text that the recipient…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways Congregations Can Respond to the #MeToo Movement

The #MeToo movement has been a wakeup call regarding the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and misconduct in virtually every sector of society, including the church. The United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women has outlined ways that a congregation can respond to victims and help prevent further abuse. The #MeToo movement has been spiritually powerful because of…

Leading Ideas
0 The Bright Promise of Alternative Faith Communities

A new type of congregation is emerging that combines religious practice with a distinctive element of local culture or community identity, such as artistic expression, missional engagement, table fellowship, or nature. Researchers Tim Shapiro and Kara Faris studied the key characteristics of these alternative faith communities in their book Divergent Church. Convergence, a worshiping community in Virginia, focuses on the…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tips for Experimenting with Change This Summer

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says that the summer is the perfect time for a congregation to test possible changes through short-term experiments. He offers four considerations to guide an experimental approach to implementing new ideas. An experiment is where you get to test something out. You go into it knowing that the results may not be what you…

Leading Ideas
0 Reaching People Who Don’t Look or Act Like “Church People”

Rev. Olu Brown started Impact Church in Atlanta 11 years ago with a group of 25 people. Now, it’s one of the 25 fastest growing churches in the country, with almost 4,400 worshipers weekly, onsite or online. He shares tips on reaching people — even those who don’t look or act like “church people.” At Impact Church, we’re a group…

Leading Ideas
0 Stop Taking Givers for Granted

Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, authors of Contagious Generosity, explain the importance of developing a system to thank givers to celebrate their spiritual growth through giving and encourage greater generosity. It is sad but true that many churches take their givers for granted. Most nonprofits, on the other hand, understand just how difficult it is to find prospects, cultivate them,…

Leading Ideas
0 What Kind of Church Will Millennials Lead?

In a very short period of time the Millennial generation will be the largest segment of clergy, says Wesley Theological Seminary President David McAllister-Wilson. Therefore, the key question for the church is no longer “How can we attract Millennials?” but rather “What kind of church will Millennials lead?” As churches of all denominations struggle to turn around their aging congregations,…

Leading Ideas
0 Did Jesus Invent the Pyramid Scheme?

While the idea of a pyramid scheme may bring to mind shady dealings and unsavory characters, Stephanie Remington of the Lewis Center staff sees genius in the idea of building influence through friendships. She says utilizing our existing networks is a perfectly natural way to grow the church and identify new leaders — a method established by Jesus himself. Ah,…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tips for Preaching on Politically Charged Topics

Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, author of Sacred Resistance, says it’s up to preachers to address the pain, injustice, confusion, and chaos in our days even when it is risky, and she offers guidance on approaching controversial issues in meaningful and responsible ways. “I went to worship this morning and not one word was spoken about [fill in the blank].” I’ve heard this…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ideas for Making Vacation Bible School an Evangelism Opportunity

How can you deepen your relationship with the children and families participating in a Vacation Bible School and stay connected with them throughout the year? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe outlines strategies to make your Vacation Bible School a meaningful and effective evangelism opportunity. Many churches conduct Vacation Bible School during the summer, engaging neighborhood children and families as participants.…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Top Trends Impacting Church Leadership

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe and Associate Director Ann A. Michel outline some of the major trends evident in their research and interactions with church leaders. While many of the trends are quite sobering, they also reveal possibilities for innovative and adaptive approaches to ministry. 1. Changes in church attendance patterns Since 2001, worship attendance had been trending downward…

Leading Ideas
0 Honoring the Context of a New Ministry Setting

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says incoming pastors tend to see everything through the lens of their own experience, vision, and interests, rather than learning how things got to be the way they are. Good leadership is always about the group, not the leader, says Weems. So it’s important for new pastors to take time to understand the pulse of a…

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