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 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…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Church Have the Necessary Leaders?

Church Consultant Joel Snider says a critical characteristic of healthy churches is the presence of “necessary leaders” who can make hard decisions in the right spirit and act in the best interest of the congregation, even when facing criticism. He outlines six characteristics of such leaders and key questions for identifying your church’s necessary leaders. What are the characteristics of…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Habits Your Church Must Unlearn to Increasing Giving

Their study of rapidly growing churches led Matt Miofsky and Jason Byassee to understand the importance of elevating the practice of giving. But for most churches, before they can learn more effective behaviors around giving, they need to unlearn bad behaviors that stifle generosity. Most church are caught in a contradiction. They believe that generosity is an essential component of…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways A Weekday Childcare Webpage Can Connect Families with Your Church

Church tech expert Will Rice says churches with weekday childcare programs will have people looking for daycare regularly visiting their websites. He outlines ways to maximize the opportunity for families seeking childcare to connect with the other things the church has to offer. Does your church have a highly regarded daycare program or weekday children’s ministry? You may proudly dedicate…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Engage People the Way Jesus Did

Looking for ways to connect with new people, organize them for action, and lead them to a deepening commitment? Joe Daniels and Christie Latona remind us of five basic practices Jesus used to organize and engage people. Jesus put energy into connecting people and pulling individuals together for the common good. He did so persistently, intently, and sometimes effortlessly even…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Reasons Millennials are Drawn to Mainline Churches

Don’t assume your church doesn’t have anything to offer the Millennial generation, says Andrew Ponder Williams. He outlines five ways that mainline churches are distinctively called and gifted to connect with younger generations and offers tips on how your church can maximize these advantages. I consistently encounter the presumption in congregations of all sizes that Millennials don’t like mainline churches.…

Leading Ideas
0 Letting Go of This Pastor and Preparing for the Next

Church consultant Susan Beaumont shares four leadership practices that can help a congregation prepare when their pastor is getting ready to leave. Approaching the situation honestly and communicating openly can help a church understand that times of loss, experienced openly and fully, lead into times of promise. A pastoral transition is announced. One era of leadership winds down as the…

Leading Ideas
0 The Changing Face of Ministry

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe describes shifting staffing patterns and ministry models emerging as more and more mainline congregations suffer decline. The Lewis Center is launching a three-year research effort supported by Lilly Endowment Inc. to study these and other changes in the religious workforce, the impact on local congregations, and implications for how people prepare for ministry. Many…

Leading Ideas
0 10 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 5 Leadership Insights from Jethro

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says when looking for leadership lessons in the Bible we shouldn’t focus so much on Moses that we skip over his father-in-law Jethro. In Exodus 18, Jethro offered important insights that transformed Moses’ practice of leadership and can help us as well. While Jethro is not as prominent a character in Exodus as Moses, he…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Mindset Shifts that Can Reshape Your Church’s Future

To reshape the future of your church you must set aside old assumptions, fears, and stereotypes and embrace new experiences and methods. In the new book Blank Slate, Lia McIntosh, Jasmine Smothers, and Rodney Smothers explore generational transition, design thinking, and successful private sector organizations to discern a new direction for the church. They name seven mindsets essential to create…

Leading Ideas
0 Top 10 Reasons Visitors Don’t Come Back

What do visitors say when asked why they don’t return to a church? Thom Rainer outlines the top 10 responses when hundreds of guests were surveyed about their experiences of visiting a church. When we asked hundreds of guests about their experiences of visiting churches, it was not a pretty picture. We asked specifically why they did not return to…

Leading Ideas
0 Do Your Church Programs Obscure Your True Mission?

Sometimes churches get so preoccupied with their own programs and a get-it-done approach to mission that they lose sight of their ultimate purpose. Lee Roorda Schott’s experience as a pastor behind prison walls taught her that the true essence of the church’s mission must be love born of real, authentic relationship. If you look at many churches’ newsletters and websites,…

Leading Ideas
0 Affirming the Ministry of Lay Readers

Theodore May says reading scripture in worship is a profound and meaningful way to connect people with the Bible, worship, and the church. Congregations need to help people overcome their hesitations by setting reasonable expectations and helping them prepare in more than superficial ways. Performing a role in a play binds an actor to that play for life. For years…

Leading Ideas
0 Key Observations for Reaching Latino/a Populations

The growing Latino and Latina population in the United States is transforming the religious landscape, reshaping virtually every Christian tradition. Drawing on the work of Juan Francisco Martínez, a scholar of the history of Latino/a Protestantism, Lovett Weems reports on trends in Latino/a ministry that are vital to any congregational or denominational leader with a heart for the newcomer in…

Leading Ideas
0 Cross-Cultural Pastor as Spiritual Bridge Builder

HiRho Y. Park has studied how pastoral leaders can be more effective in cross-racial and cross-cultural ministry contexts. These pastors can be bridge builders, she says, by practicing their faith, proclaiming the Word of God, and leading from the woundedness of suffering and racism. Pastors who are successfully leading cross-racial and cross-cultural churches are the ones who are able to…

Leading Ideas
0 Online Church is Your New Front Door

Carey Nieuwhof says that online church was once a back door for lazy or disengaged Christians, but it is rapidly evolving into the primary entry point for new people interested in a church. But to reach people who live on the internet, churches need to devote more resources and staff to online engagement. There’s an ongoing debate about how much…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Key Practices of Community Engagement

Sam Marullo and Doug Powe, both Wesley Theological Seminary faculty members, have developed a simple model to help congregations engage their communities in meaningful ways. They outline four reflective practices — inquiry, imagination, incarnation, and imminence — to guide a church in connecting with its neighbors. How can churches engage their communities in meaningful ways? Many congregations struggle to figure…

Leading Ideas
0 Kindness is the New Evangelism

Andrew Ponder Williams says that simple acts of kindness can counter the dominant cultural narrative of meanness and be a powerful way for the church to connect with others. Kindness, he suggests, is the new evangelism. So much of the narrative in our culture today can be summarized as just plain mean. From the way customers behave at the corner restaurant to…

Leading Ideas
0 Mission is Constant but Methods Must Change

Leaders need to be ready to deal with change, says Jim Cowart. But it’s important to recognize the difference between the church’s mission, which is unchanging, and methods, which must often be updated to serve the age-old mission. Change doesn’t have manners and rarely knocks. Instead, it comes barreling in, giving us little time to react. And if we stand…

Leading Ideas
0 Confess Your Mess

Marv Nelson explains that leaders gain respect when they own their failures and shortcomings, not when they ignore problems or shift blame. In confessing your mistakes, you model humility and become more able to learn from failure. As leaders, our messes — whether private or corporate — are a bit more public than those of the average person. When leaders…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Policies Every Church Needs for Trust and Transparency

Trust is fragile, says Bonnie Ives Marden. And finances, if not handled correctly, can be a source of worry rather than security. She outlines seven policies for institutional trust and financial integrity that reduce confusion and conflict while at the same time encouraging generosity to support your mission. Every church can benefit by having these policies in place. 1. Building…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Grow the Leaders Your Church Needs to Thrive

Michael Kurtz describes a simple but profound leadership development formula in which each leader is responsible for mentoring new leaders and creating the expectation that those new leaders will also mentor others. It is a leadership succession plan begun by Jesus himself. Years ago, I was introduced to a leadership development phrase that has become a ministry mantra for me:…

Leading Ideas
0 Telling a More Inclusive Story

Amanda Poppei’s Washington, DC, congregation is engaged in an anti-racism effort aimed at countering racist assumptions embedded in their congregational life and practices. This effort led them to rethink how to tell the story of a recent capital campaign in a more inclusive way that honored the contributions of many throughout the history of their building. For the past several…

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