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 Leaders Don’t Need All the Answers

Clay Scroggins writes that authentic leaders are comfortable letting others know they don’t have all the answers. Maximizing your influence requires that you resist the attraction of false certainty. We all crave certainty in uncertain times, and leaders are prone to provide that certainty whether they have good reason to do so or not. I’ve sat in meetings with people…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Like Nehemiah

How does the story of Nehemiah guide leaders today? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe interviews Dr. Lovett H. Weems Jr.  They discuss why Nehemiah is so relevant to leaders in today’s church and how the book of Nehemiah informs our understanding of a leader’s calling and tasks. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Doug Powe: Why do you think Nehemiah…

Leading Ideas
0 There Are No Volunteers Named “Somebody”

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe explains why recruitment efforts based on general appeals invariably fall flat. It’s far more effective to generate interest through firsthand testimonies and personal invitations to individuals or groups. We have all heard it and even done it. We stand up in front of the church and say, “We need somebody to volunteer for our mission…

Leading Ideas
0 Cultivating Good Questions

Eileen Campbell-Reed explains why cultivating good questions is a key skill for ministry leaders. She outlines three types of questions essential to building understanding and empathy and discerning the way forward. When we take time to pay attention patiently and deeply, we can discover that there is much more going on, much more to discover about the person or situation,…

Leading Ideas
0 What Can Churches and Businesses Learn from Each Other?

What can churches, nonprofits, and businesses learn from one another? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe interviews Randy Casey-Rutland, a theologically educated business executive, who shares insights about what the church can learn from the business world and vice versa. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Doug Powe: Can you share a bit of your journey from theological education to running…

Leading Ideas
0 Intergenerational Ministry for the Post-pandemic Church

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says siloed age-level ministries often prevent congregations from worshiping together around one common table. But the pandemic provided an opportunity for us to rethink our concepts of place and space and to reimagine what it means for us all to be together. If your family is anything like mine, every holiday gathering features a grownup…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Financial Lessons for the Post-pandemic Church

Lovett Weems and Ann Michel share eight key lessons to help churches deal with the financial aftershocks of the COVID crisis. Now is the time to create a healthier financial future by managing resources wisely, engaging givers more effectively, and seeking more creative approaches to economic sustainability. In the aftershocks of the COVID-19 crisis, many churches face a period of…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Myths about Digital Worship

Tim Snyder of the Lewis Center staff reveals how common myths that diminish the legitimacy of digital worship are not borne out in research or practice. Digital worship can be as real, as embodied, and as communal as the types of worship with which we are more familiar. What comes to mind when you think about digital worship? A few…

Leading Ideas
0 How a Food Pantry Became So Much More

Kevin Harney describes how his church transformed their successful food pantry ministry to attend to spiritual as well as physical needs. Volunteers are offering conversation, prayer, and Bibles to the many people who have come for help during the pandemic period. Shoreline Church has offered a food pantry ministry to our community for many years. It has been a solid,…

Leading Ideas
0 Acknowledging the Toll of the Pandemic on Ministry Leaders

Churches and their members may not fully appreciate the strain the pandemic has placed on their pastors and other ministry leaders. Mike Bonem urges congregations to take heed of the stress carried by leaders in this busy and chaotic time and develop plans to respond. I want to share a secret with you. It’s not the kind of secret that…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Indicators of a Thriving Rural Congregation

Allen Stanton says rural churches need better indicators of what it means to thrive. He outlines three characteristics of vital rural congregations able to lead the wider community toward the Kingdom of God. I pay attention to the way rural pastors describe their ministry. Often, they are apologetic. They presume their churches are deficient because they try to adhere to…

Leading Ideas
0 The Church and the Response to the Mental Health Crisis

The church is the first place most individuals with mental illness seek help, even those with serious mental illness. Ann Michel interviews Dr. Matthew Stanford about his new book Madness and Grace: A Practical Guide for Pastoral Care and Serious Mental Illness. They discuss the scope of the mental health crisis and how churches can respond in constructive ways. Listen…

Leading Ideas
0 The Art of Forging a Meaningful Consensus

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says that unanimity is not required for a group to move forward. Good leaders drive consensus by extracting different opinions and views, listening carefully for threads of agreement, and then clarifying a way forward. We’ve all been in church groups that meet regularly but never seem to get anything done. Groups that discuss…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Cultivate a Creative Culture

How can you cultivate a creative spirit that will carry your ministry beyond the pandemic? Phil Cooke describes 10 ways to nurture a culture that embraces new vision and potential. It’s no secret that culture is more important than vision. I’ve worked in creative, vibrant cultures where original thinking is valued, people listen to one another, and wonderful things happen.…

Leading Ideas
0 A Transformational Approach to Church Finance

How can church leaders approach stewardship and finance in ways that inspire generosity and encourage the sound use of church resources? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe speaks with Lovett H. Weems Jr. and Ann A. Michel about their new book Generosity, Stewardship, and Abundance: A Transformational Guide to Church Finances. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Doug Powe: A lot of…

Leading Ideas
0 A Biblical Perspective on Trauma

What is trauma? And how can congregations be a space of healing for the traumatized? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe interviews Paul Cho, a professor of Hebrew Bible, on the nature of trauma and how Scripture is a resource for congregations journeying alongside the traumatized. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Doug Powe: You teach on trauma. Can you share…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Simple Steps to Launch a Planned Giving Program

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center says this could be a now-or-never stewardship moment for congregations whose pews are full of older adults. She outlines six simple steps for launching a planned giving program to help this generation faithfully steward their lifetime assets. Those born between 1946 and 1964 (baby boomers) are the richest generation in the nation’s history. They…

Leading Ideas
0 Now is the Time for Risk-taking Leadership

During the pandemic, many leaders were concerned primarily with avoiding risk. Bill Wilson says we are now entering a time in the life of the American church that cries out for creative risk taking that puts aside personal preferences for the sake of the gospel. For many of us, the past year has been the challenge of a lifetime in…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Dos and Don’ts to Make the Most of Your Digital Worship

Tim Snyder of the Lewis Center staff suggests it’s a good time for congregations to reassess their approach to online worship. He offers five “dos and don’ts” for churches looking to make digital worship a permanent element of their ministry. With a year or more of digital ministry under their belts, many congregations are reexamining their online worship with an…

Leading Ideas
0 Failing Creatively

Eileen Campbell-Reed explains how failure is an essential step on the path to mastering the art of ministry leadership. New leaders need to give themselves permission to fail and find spaces where they will be supported as they master the complex skill of wise pastoral practice. Failure. It is one of those words that is big and scary, and we…

Leading Ideas
0 Tackling Tough Topics in Church

Do you long for church to be a place where people can discuss real life challenges openly and honestly? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews pastor and author Elizabeth Hagan on what it takes to be a “brave church” willing to tackle tough but important subjects. Ann Michel: In many congregations there’s a “cone of silence” around certain…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Unique Gifts of the Rural Church

Allen Stanton says rural churches are uniquely positioned to be agents of change within their communities. Most are trusted long-term community stakeholders, and on any given Sunday people from a wide range of occupations and life circumstances are sitting in their pews. Rural churches often have several strengths that are relatively unique to their own social and geographic locations and…

Leading Ideas
0 From Online Worship to Online Ministry

Kay Kotan says many churches embraced online worship out of necessity during the pandemic without deliberate plans for engaging new people through online ministry. Now is the time to consider how to engage new digital worshipers more fully through intentional welcome, relational connections, and opportunities for Christian formation. When the pandemic hit, local churches had to make a fast and…

Leading Ideas
0 Preaching Strategies for a Post-Pandemic Church

New preaching strategies are needed to engage emerging generations in the digital age. Michael Beck and Rosario Picardo say sermons in the post-pandemic church will likely be shorter, more conversational and interactive, and less reliant on a single voice. One major gift the pandemic provided was an opportunity to rethink the preparation and delivery of sermons. In Protestant churches the…

Leading Ideas
0 Do You View Your Church as an Organization or a Movement?

Sue Nilson Kibbey says churches often focus so much on organizational maintenance that they lose sight of the church’s ultimate spiritual mission. She challenges us to think about whether we operate with the mindset of an organization or a movement intent on transforming the world. Reflect on your own church right now — whether you are a pastor, staff person,…

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