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 New Possibilities for Engaging Ministry Participants and Leaders

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says that churches need to think outside the box when seeking to involve new people in ministry and leadership. Church membership or even church attendance should no longer be the assumed starting point in the process.   Are you sensing a new level of challenge when it comes to engaging congregants in ministry and…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Tips for Pastors on Using AI

What is artificial intelligence (AI) and how can it enhance your ministry? Josh Burnett offers five things pastors need to know about AI. He also shares some ideas for using AI to strengthen your ministry so that you can spend more time cultivating relationships with the congregation and the community.   The era of artificial intelligence (AI) is here. Once confined…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Things You Need to Know about Donors who are Retired

What do church financial leaders need to know when discussing generosity with retirees? Stewardship expert Ken Sloane shares five considerations that might shape a recent retiree’s mindset when it comes to sharing their treasure and their time. I’m getting older. Some would say I’m already old. While I’m not retiring yet, I recognize that it’s true that what retirement looks…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Reasons Churches Suffer Management Chaos

Focused on ministry, churches often give too little attention to organizational management. Church consultant Rich Sider outlines five common management problems that can result in confusion and conflict. This article was originally published on May 23, 2018. Churches correctly give priority to ministry to their members and their communities. However, if they don’t also give priority to how they are…

Leading Ideas
0 Twenty-Five Percent of Churches Disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church

The Lewis Center has issued a final report on disaffiliating churches in the United Methodist Church covering 7,631 churches approved by annual conferences for disaffiliation by December 31, 2023. There continue to be more similarities than differences between the cohort of disaffiliating churches and the total pool of United Methodist churches. Disaffiliating churches are disproportionately in the Southeastern (50 percent)…

Leading Ideas
0 Some Questions for Further Research from the Disaffiliation Process

The recent disaffiliation process in the United Methodist Church leaves in its wake grief, hope, and many unanswered questions regarding the impact of prior unifications, the impact of clergy and judicatory leaders in the process, and the various motivations for disaffiliation. Lovett H. Weems of the Lewis Center staff raises some of these significant questions and identifies areas where qualitative…

Leading Ideas
0 Embracing Mutual Ministry: An In-Depth Interview with Lydia Bucklin

How can your congregation function as a community of ministers rather than a community gathered around a single minister? Lydia Bucklin of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan explains the Mutual Ministry Initiative and how this approach to shared ministry is flourishing among smaller churches in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube,…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Help Their Communities Dream Big Dreams

Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech proposed a big dream for what America can become. What big dreams do you have for your congregation and community? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe shares four key characteristics of big dreams that propel us toward a future shaped by participating in God’s transforming work. Many of us have heard Dr.…

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. This article was originally published on February 22, 2017.  Two of…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Trends Impacting Church Leadership for 2024

Ann Michel, Doug Powe, and Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff identify seven trends church leaders should keep in mind as they develop creative ministries to reach new people in 2024. Many of these trends are daunting, reflecting the long-term decline in worship attendance and the increasing percentage of Americans who claim no religious affiliation. But there are also…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways to Listen Well

Effective leaders are skilled listeners. C. Kavin Rowe offers three practices that center on developing our attention and improving our ability to listen.   Leaders need to know how to listen well. It seems so obvious. Why bring it up? Because the truth is that many leaders are more focused on telling people what to do than they are on listening…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas Talks” Podcast Episodes of 2023

How to Keep Preaching Fresh How can preachers keep their preaching fresh? Teresa Fry Brown, professor of preaching at Candler School of Theology, shares strategies for preaching familiar texts for different generations, preaching for in person and digital audiences, and sermon preparation for bivocational pastors. Listen, read, or watch now. Funding Forward: How Congregations Can Develop New Revenue Sources Is your congregation too dependent on…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas” Articles of 2023

Report on Disaffiliating United Methodist Churches through 2022: Comparing Similarities and Differences What are the characteristics of churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church? Lovett H. Weems Jr. reports that there are more similarities than differences between the cohort of disaffiliating churches and the total pool of all United Methodist churches. But disaffiliating churches are overwhelmingly in the South with…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways to Deepen Your Congregation’s Connection to the Community this Christmas

How can your congregation deepen its connection to the community this holiday season? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff offers six ways to engage people of all ages, including the groups meeting at your church, in the preparation for and celebration of Christmas. From decorating the sanctuary to decorating cookies and singing beloved carols, there are lots of ways…

Leading Ideas
0 Sharing the True Spirit of Christmas in the Places Where Life Happens

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff suggests that in an age of rampant religious disaffiliation our evangelistic task in the Advent and Christmas seasons may go beyond gathering in less-frequent church attenders, friends, family, and neighbors. She sees a need to help a generation of dechurched young people reclaim the sacred aspects of Christmas and offers ideas for rebuilding…

Leading Ideas
0 Gratitude as Leadership

Andy Stanton-Henry explains how the practice of gratitude can change the way we view our community and our world. For leaders, gratitude isn’t merely an essential personal spiritual practice. It is a way to promote the sustainability and resilience of their communities by shifting attention toward what is present and possible rather than what is absent and improbable. One of…

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. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular…

Leading Ideas
0 Discipleship and Mission in the Micro Church Movement in Australia: An In-depth Interview with Bree Mills

What are micro churches and how do they disciple missional leaders? Bree Mills, director of Micro Churches Australia shares about the characteristics of micro churches, how they are formed, and how micro church leaders are developed.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Doug Powe: Bree, I’m so glad you’re joining us today and happy…

Leading Ideas
0 God is Already in Your Neighborhood

Incredible things happen when congregations commit to being present in and praying for the spaces around them. The authors of a new book, Leading Faithful Innovation, share how a neighborhood prayer walk led one church to life-giving relationships and new ways of demonstrating God’s love.   Incredible things happen when congregations commit to being present in and praying for the spaces…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Questions to Determine if Your Advent Traditions are Still Meaningful

Meghan Hatcher says planning for Advent is the perfect time to assess whether a ministry tradition is still serving its intended purpose. She suggests seven questions to help determine if a long-standing ministry is still offering people a transformative encounter with the Gospel, or if it’s time for a change. At the United Methodist church where I grew up, the…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways to Cultivate Resilient Leadership

Leadership is challenging, especially in these days, so effective leaders need to be resilient. C. Kavin Rowe asserts that resilience is essential in Christian communities as they are founded on hope. He outlines three ways Christian communities can cultivate hope and nurture resilience in their leaders.   There are at least three central ways that we can cultivate resilience. These ways…

Leading Ideas
0 What’s Wrong with Thinking of Church as Family?

Lee Ann M. Pomrenke says the beloved metaphor of church as family can stand in the way of a congregation being truly open and inclusive. The church is a movement defined by shared values, commitments, and actions, not a household family linked by a shared heritage or appearances. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles —…

Leading Ideas
0 How Can the Church Respond to the Rise of the Nones?

What is the church to do in the face of increasing rates of religious disaffiliation and the rise of the Nones? Researcher and pastor Ryan Burge says it’s important that the church not lose hope. We must continue to step out in faith and sow the seeds of love, grace, and hope. How do people of faith deal with the…

Leading Ideas
0 Understanding the Cultural Realities of Children and Youth Today

Janet Craswell and Angela Pupino of National United Methodist Church say ministries with children and youth were severely impacted by the pandemic and are still rebuilding in most churches. They say a truly intergenerational church must embrace the voices and concerns of younger people and acknowledge the unique cultural realities that shape the lives.   There are very few intergenerational spaces…

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