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 Goals that Promote Healthy Multicultural Ministry

Drawing on his experience in a cross-racial/cross-cultural ministry setting, Albert Shuler explains that successful multicultural ministry depends on clear goals and objectives. The ultimate goal of creating a healthy interaction between cultures rests on the initial goals of minimizing conflict, recognizing differences, and respecting differences. Nearly everyone in ministry these days is aware of the complex tapestry of cultures that…

Leading Ideas
0 Make Decisions with Your Head but Implement Them with Your Heart

Communication specialist Theodore May explains that the tendency to lead from the heart often impedes rational decision making in churches. But it can be an advantage when it comes to implementing key decisions. Churches, he says, can be particularly effective in creating compelling narratives to generate support for their decisions. In the secular world, leaders are trained to use their…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Keys to Developing Emerging Generation Leaders

Marv Nelson says church leaders are often too quick to dismiss the potential of next generation leaders. To move beyond our own negative stereotypes, we need to invest time in really knowing millennials, equipping them, and believing in them enough to let them take leadership. I’ve heard many church leaders air their frustrations about the millennial generation. Many times, they…

Leading Ideas
0 Choose Your Hills Wisely

Jim Cowart says it’s important to stay focused on the right objectives. Instead of being content with what is, taking on too much, or choosing the wrong battles to fight, good leaders choose carefully the hills they need to conquer. As a leader, you must choose your battles. And you better choose wisely. If you don’t, it can cost you…

Leading Ideas
0 Eliminating the Downward Drag of Ministry Clutter

Michael Kurtz explains that churches are quick to add new programs but slow to eliminate older ones, creating ministry clutter and program overload. Regular pruning is required to regain focus. He outlines three guidelines for deciding where to cut back. Another training workshop, another church program added. Another new idea, another ministry comes on line. Thank God for new ideas!…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Deresolutions to Start the New Year

Mike Bonem says effective leaders are strategic in deciding what not to do. He advocates resolving to drop inconsequential tasks and delegate work peripheral to your core responsibilities as well as tasks that would help other leaders develop. A few weeks into the new year, the majority of people have already broken their New Year resolutions. So, this year, why…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Talks Podcast Episodes of 2018

Leading Ideas Talks podcast debuted in January 2018, providing a new way for Leading Ideas subscribers and other church leaders to learn cutting-edge leadership strategies from some of today’s most relevant thought leaders, including Robert Schnase, Kenneth Carter, Adam Hamilton, Ginger-Gaines Cirelli, and Olu Brown. These 10 episodes, hosted by Lewis Center Director Doug Powe and Associate Director Ann Michel,…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Articles of 2018

What Leading Ideas subjects are trending this year? We’ve assembled this list to give you another opportunity to glean insight and inspiration from the authors and articles most popular with our nearly 20,000 subscribers. 4 Reasons Visitors Do Not Return Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says it’s important not only to attract visitors, but to create a space where they will…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Characteristics of Biblical Evangelism

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says biblical evangelism is characterized by four key practices — proclamation, community, service, and witness. Focusing on these practices can demystify the concept of evangelism and strengthen a congregation’s evangelistic efforts. Many churches struggle with evangelism. For some, evangelism is an important objective, but the methods of pursuing it are vague or ineffective. For others,…

Leading Ideas
0 Room at the Inn

Doug Ruffle, who once served as a missionary in Argentina, shares the heartwarming story of a Christmas pageant that went off script, yet captured the true meaning of Christmas. It invites us to make room for the Christ Child in our lives. As a missionary in Argentina, I served Peace Community Church in Rosaria. It was an intimate community of…

Leading Ideas
0 Biblical Leadership: Not as Simple as You Think

Denise Dombkowski Hopkins, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Wesley Theological Seminary, says we often see biblical leadership in one-dimensional or overly idealized ways. Her more nuanced view of several common images of biblical leadership can inform a more robust and realistic concept of our own leadership challenges. When we look to the Bible for leadership advice, it’s easy to…

Leading Ideas
0 A Gracious Invitation to Generosity

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says inviting people to participate in the generosity of God can be a gracious way to initiate conversations about giving. Stewardship and tithing are important concepts, but too often they are heard as thinly veiled euphemisms for church fundraising. In many churches, the conversation around money and giving relies heavily on the vocabulary…

Leading Ideas
0 Worship Under the Bridge

Bishop Robert Schnase tells the story of a Texas congregation sharing worship with its homeless neighbors in relational and empowering ways. This powerful example of risk-taking mission began with the simple desire to learn about people’s circumstances and ask, “What do you need?” Two people, a married couple, actively belonging to a faith community in New Braunfels, Texas, began to…

Leading Ideas
0 Never Fail to Attend Because You Can’t Contribute

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains that while only a few members of your church may be currently experiencing hard times, most of the others live with the reality that they could face hard times some day. And they will feel better about giving to a church that acknowledges that reality. The Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are often filled, as they…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Welcoming Strategies that Can Backfire

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says that churches sometimes reach out to newcomers in ways that are off-putting or even counterproductive. Unfortunately, several common, well-intended welcoming strategies top the list of things that can make visitors uncomfortable or even turn them away. 1. Asking visitors to introduce themselves in worship It’s common practice in many churches to ask…

Leading Ideas
0 People Give to People

Stewardship consultant J. Clif Christopher says relationship building is the key factor in encouraging donors to give. And while pastors often shy away from talking about money, Christopher says people of faith want and need counsel on how a disciple uses money. I visited one time with a very active church member. He had recently made two gifts. One was…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Things to Consider Before Engaging a Public Issue

When so many causes, crises, and critical needs demand our attention, how can a congregation decide where to engage? Pastor and author Ginger Gaines-Cirelli outlines key questions and concerns in discerning a faithful and sustainable response to public issues. Choosing when and how to engage actively in the public square requires intentional discernment. If your congregation is discerning whether to…

Leading Ideas
0 First Impressions Are Formed Earlier Than You Think

Kay Kotan and Blake Bradford explain that a church visitor’s first impression is often formed long before they enter the sanctuary. So, hospitality needs to begin online, as people approach your location, and through casual encounters with your building. We have all heard it said that you do not have a second chance to make a first impression. This is…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Practices for Fruitful Congregations in a Post-Attractional Era

Robert Schnase’s five key practices — radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity — have helped thousands of congregations be more fruitful in ministry. But churches today face a more challenging reality than when Schnase first articulated these principles a decade ago. In a new, revised version of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations,…

Leading Ideas
0 Church Childcare Programs: Income Generators or Missional Opportunity?

Nursery schools and childcare programs are more to churches than a source of rental income. Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says they offer important missional opportunities as well. He outlines four simple strategies for engaging children and families. Many congregations have daycare centers, preschools, nursery schools, or after-school programs. Some see the revenue-generating possibility of these programs as their primary…

Leading Ideas
0 Preaching Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts

New Testament professor Bill Brosend says that preaching in the age of fake news and alternative facts can be like walking a tightrope. But it’s when the stakes are highest that it’s most important to be disciplined, humble, and aware that actions speak more eloquently than words. How are we to proclaim good news in the era of fake news?…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Things Your Christian Educator Wants You to Know

The work of faith formation leaders in a congregation is expansive and vital, yet often undervalued and misunderstood. Virginia Callegary lifts up the need to support and affirm their work by sharing eight things she and other Christian educators want church leaders to know. Many churches employ a faith formation leader, Christian educator, or youth leader. Churches that do not…

Leading Ideas
0 Overcoming Apprehension about Change

Dan Turner led an older, established congregation through a restart. The remnant of members from the previous church brought many gifts to the new church, but also a healthy dose of grief and skepticism. They had to change and sacrifice. But ultimately, the power of seeing lives transformed overcame their grief and apprehension. A restart is different from all other…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways to Create a Guest-Friendly Worship Service

How can you position your church for increased attendance and growth? John Zehring, author of Get Your Church Ready to Grow, suggests six strategies that can make your worship more attractive to visitors, without requiring a major investment of time or resources. 1. Explain your time-honored traditions Integrate into your worship a brief explanation of religious practices and traditions in…

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