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 Building Congregational Engagement in a Church-School Partnership

Jake McGlothin, author of The Mission-Minded Guide to Church and School Partnerships, explains how compelling messages that align your congregation’s vision to the task of forming a school partnership and simple recruitment ideas will harness the resources needed to serve children in your community. Creating and maintaining a great church-school partnership can be challenging. But there are resources in your…

Leading Ideas
0 The Challenges and Opportunities of Intergenerational Leadership

Due to longevity, it’s not uncommon for four distinct generations of adults to be vying for leadership within our churches, says Melissa Cooper. She explores how the church can be a place of unity and reconciliation that uses the gifts of every generation. In the 21st century, the church is facing a new challenge. Just a century ago, average life…

Leading Ideas
0 What’s Your Goal for Visitor Follow-Up?

Lovett H. Weems, Jr. says the traditional approach to visitor follow-up aimed at moving people quickly toward membership may not fit well in an era when people are hesitant to join anything. An alternative approach is to engage newcomers around the goal of enhancing their spiritual development. Most churches have follow-up systems in place for first-time guests. If the visitor…

Leading Ideas
0 Relationships Are Important to Vitality

Bonnie Marden explores the importance of relationships to congregational vitality, and she suggests key questions for assessing the strength of relationships that undergird a congregation’s ministry. The strength and quality of relationships within a congregation is strongly connected to vitality and growth. Healthy relationships are motivating. They support networks that undergird amazing ministry and missions, whereas broken relationships and unresolved…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Master the Art of Asking

Learning how to be effective in asking others to support your ministry is a key to fruitful leadership, says Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff. She provides ten practical tips from her new book Synergy that will enhance your volunteer recruitment and fundraising. Whether you’re recruiting Sunday school teachers, amping up your praise team, or raising funds to support…

Leading Ideas
0 What Church Leaders Need to Know About Grants and Crowdfunding

Many churches need to think more creatively about funding their ministries in today’s environment. Church planter and consultant Rosario Picardo provides tips and resources for those interested in exploring the potential of grants and crowdfunding. Grants are often a mystery for churches and are overlooked as a potential funding source for new projects or programs. While it is true that…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Strengthen Relations with Police and Public Safety Officials

Baltimore pastor Dr. C. Anthony Hunt says congregations need to work proactively to strengthen community relations and build trust with police and public officials. He provides ten suggestions for strengthening these critical relationships in the wake of recent police-involved shootings and violence toward police. One key to a church’s vitality is the quality of the relationships it establishes with a…

Leading Ideas
0 Doing Mission Fundraising Well

Do you wish your church could do more to support mission? Pastor Lisa Kipp gives tips for how special fundraising for mission can be done effectively to enhance stewardship and increase a congregation’s overall mission giving. Several years ago, our congregation decided to try an experiment. We wondered what might happen if we held specific fundraisers through the year for…

Leading Ideas
0 The Importance of Why

Healthy churches know why they do what they do, says pastor and author Graham Standish. When what we do is based on a clear why, we act with purpose. When we don’t know why we do what we do, we lose focus. Why do some churches flourish and others struggle? Those that flourish generally know why they do what they…

Leading Ideas
0 Effective Church Websites

Web designer and consultant Scott Dixon shares tips for designing a good church website. He says three traits are essential — great content, good design, and easy navigation. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked “What makes a good website?” Or, better yet, “What can I do to make my website better?” I’ve learned there are three essential traits…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Things Preachers Should Never Say

Many preachers shoot themselves in the foot when they start off with hackneyed or formulaic phrases that fail to capture the fleeting attention of those in the pew.  Charley Reeb, a Florida pastor known as a gifted preacher, outlines nine opening lines that good preachers avoid. Preaching is challenging. When someone suggested to Winston Churchill that he ought to put…

Leading Ideas
0 How Best to Use Overflow Worship Space on Easter

Tom Berlin describes strategies for encouraging your regular attenders to worship in overflow spaces outside the sanctuary when additional seating is needed on Easter so that visitors will feel welcome and have a quality worship experience. Increased worship attendance on Easter Sunday requires some churches to set up spaces beyond the sanctuary for overflow seating. Sometimes this is space just…

Leading Ideas
0 Blessing Boxes Energize Churches to Meet Needs

The idea of a Blessing Box, shared widely on social media, has inspired many congregations to take direct action to meet community needs. Amy Forbus describes how Blessing Boxes have energized churches in the Arkansas Conference of the UMC to provide for their neighbors in creative, participatory ways. The concept is simple: Stock a container with nonperishable food items, toiletries…

Leading Ideas
0 Keychain Leadership

One core commitment that can help a congregation engage younger people is a willingness to entrust teens and emerging adults with the “keys” to real influence and agency by giving away access, power, and responsibility. The authors of Growing Young call this empowering style of leadership “keychain leadership.” Is leadership style a critical variable in helping a church reach younger…

Leading Ideas
0 The Leader as Communicator

Effective leaders are good communicators, according to Lovett H. Weems, Jr. They understand the importance of all forms of communication and that communication is always two-way, receiving as well as giving information and feelings. One study of leadership analyzed how leaders spend their days, concluding “for formal leaders in organizations … the world consists of many activities (most of them…

Leading Ideas
0 The Mutual Benefits of Church-School Partnerships

Jake McGlothin, author of The Mission-Minded Guide to Church and School Partnerships, says it’s only logical that the two most important social institutions in our society should work together. He outlines what churches can share with schools as well as how engagement with schools can positively impact a congregation. Two of the greatest and most important social institutions in America…

Leading Ideas
0 The Lent Challenge

Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris United Methodist Church, challenges his congregation to deepen their spiritual journey during Lent by taking up the disciplines of worship, study, and scripture reading rather than giving up chocolates or dessert. Lent is a time for going more deeply into Christian discipleship. Church members are often aware that Lent is a season for increased devotion…

Leading Ideas
0 Should You Add Another Easter Worship Service?

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., encourages churches to consider whether adding an additional worship service on Easter Sunday will increase their ability to reach more worshipers. He says an unexpected, positive benefit of modifying your worship schedule is that you need to be more deliberate in sharing information with members and potential visitors. Easter is the special day of the Christian…

Leading Ideas
0 When Volunteers Aren’t Working Out

Churches often put up with ineffective volunteers because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, says Lory Beth Huffman, a pastor in Western North Carolina. She describes how to help volunteers succeed, but also how to remove a dysfunctional volunteer with grace and honesty when necessary for the sake of fruitfulness in God’s Kingdom. One of the hardest dilemmas we…

Leading Ideas
0 Ten Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

Examining the biblical account of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Lovett H. Weems, Jr., sees a compelling example of how a leader should function. Nehemiah defined the reality of the situation, named a vision, and then engaged the people to accomplish it. The prophet Nehemiah provides modern day leaders a wonderful model of leadership. Upon learning of the distress…

Leading Ideas
0 Organizing a Missional COMMUNITY

Hal Knight and Doug Powe discuss nine characteristics of transformative Christian communities that allow them to nurture spiritual growth while also remaining open to others and connected to the broader community. Whether starting a new church or renewing an existing congregation, leaders must be able to organize communities so that their members are growing in spiritual depth while also focusing…

Leading Ideas
0 Four Functions of a Church Choir

Choir director Brian Hehn has helped Arapaho UMC become a “singing congregation” by emphasizing the choir’s four key functions — to lead and enliven the congregation’s song, to sing music that the congregation cannot, to serve as a small-group within the church for faith formation, and to sing music that glorifies God and edifies the congregation. As the director of…

Leading Ideas
0 Lead Positively

Lovett H. Weems Jr., explains why leaders need to affirm the positive and assume the best of others — even when things aren’t what they ultimately need to be. Critique and judgment have their place — but not at the expense of projecting a grace-filled and hopeful attitude toward others. Leaders sometimes are reluctant to affirm good things among those we serve…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Vision a Mural or a To-Do List?

Tiffany Deluccia says that for too many churches, their de facto vision is nothing more than a list of the next things to be done. Instead, your vision should be an inspiring and compelling portrait of what God is doing in the life of your church. When someone asks you about your church’s vision for the next 3-5 years, how…

Leading Ideas
0 The Multiplying Effect of Community Partnerships

Rather than creating new programs that reinvent the wheel, Rosario Picardo says congregations can multiply the impact of their outreach by seeking out the people and organizations in their community already doing God’s work and forging creative partnerships. As churches, we have a tendency to create “new” programs either out of a desire for control or because we simply don’t…

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