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 Revitalizing Worship is More than a Question of Style

L. Roger Owens and Donna Claycomb Sokol, authors of New Day in the City, say re-imagining worship to better reach new people involves more than asking if they prefer a traditional, contemporary, or blended style. The starting point must be a clear understanding of the theological purpose of worship. Then, asking how your worship engages your cultural context and your…

Leading Ideas
0 The Qualities of Competent Intercultural Leadership

As multiculturalism takes hold in U.S. churches, there is a greater need for competent intercultural leaders, says Brian Leander of Adelphi University. He says “culturally intelligent” leaders in diversity-oriented churches are highly interested in experiences with other cultures and interactions with people from other cultures. They articulate a vision for diversity and share their vision and values with other leaders.…

Leading Ideas
0 An Annual Meeting as a Celebration of Faithfulness

How can you turn a routine, boring business meeting into something more celebratory and faith-filled? Tom Tumblin describes how the awarding of an annual servant leadership award turned a congregation’s annual meeting into an inspiring reminder of how the hand of God is at work in their faith community. One of my favorite memories from a church where I served…

Leading Ideas
0 Networks and Third Places are Today’s Mission Field

Where is community discovered in our time? In their book Fresh Expressions, Ken Carter and Audrey Warren argue that people today are less likely to be connected through their geographical neighborhood or nearby church. The virtual networks and “third places” where people gather are, therefore, an increasingly significant mission field. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, networks are emerging…

Leading Ideas
0 Staying Attuned to Your Community

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., writes that congregations all start not for themselves, but to serve other people. But with the passage of time, they tend to turn in on themselves and lose their connections to the broader community. Revitalization requires finding deliberate ways to “bring the outside in.” One of the most significant counterintuitive realities about churches is that the…

Leading Ideas
0 Difficult Conversations

Olu Brown, founding pastor of the fast-growing Impact Church in Atlanta, says that difficult conversations just come with the territory if you are a leader. He recommends confronting these situations with honesty, whether the difficult conversation is with yourself, others, or with God. Leadership is filled with a series of difficult conversations! I have tried to avoid difficult conversations and…

Leading Ideas
0 Beyond Hospitality to Inclusion

David Brubaker says that most congregations are quick to welcome newcomers but slow to extend a much deeper form of acceptance — genuine inclusion in the life of the community. Inclusion is an adaptive challenge, but one that is essential to congregational growth. Nearly every congregation wants to perceive itself as an open community that welcomes newcomers. Yet congregational leaders…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership for Giving

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains how the four cornerstones of effective church leadership — vision, team, culture, and integrity — are all essential when leading a congregation toward greater generosity. Vision The single most common theme in all studies of leadership is the presence of a powerful common shared vision. A vision is a picture of a preferred future to…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Reasons Not to Fear a Major Gift Campaign

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says a capital campaign or major gift drive can be a positive experience that energizes a church and spurs greater generosity. She lists five reasons why they are motivating for givers as well as beneficial to a church. Many congregations are so daunted by the prospect of undertaking a major fundraising effort that…

Leading Ideas
0 Simple Strategies for Raising Up New Leaders

The need to develop new leaders is vital to the future of individual congregations and the church as a whole. Church consultant and author Kay Kotan suggests some simple, organic approaches to identifying and equipping new persons for ministry roles in your church. Leadership development comes up nearly every time I work with pastors and churches. I have come to…

Leading Ideas
0 Reluctant Leadership

Congregations often struggle to fill vital ministry roles because new leaders are reluctant to step forward. Lewis Center director Doug Powe names three critical factors in overcoming this reluctance — clarifying the function of each role, clearly defining the required time commitment, and allaying fears about the potential for controversy. Congregations often face a leadership dilemma. No one wants to…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Practices to Help Prevent Clergy Burnout

Matt and Kim Bloom, principal researchers with the Flourishing in Ministry research initiative, explain why clergy are at risk of burnout. Their research has found that four types of “recovery experiences” are effective in avoiding burnout. Burnout is real and it has real consequences. There’s a great deal of research to suggest that burnout not only undermines performance, but is…

Leading Ideas
0 Should you Take an Electronic Sabbath?

Virginia pastor Thomas James, a leading voice on the use of social media in ministry, says our modern world may require a new vision of Sabbath involving how we relate to our electronic devices. But before unplugging too quickly, he says it’s worthwhile to ask, “What parts of our digital lives produce distractions and which ones enhance connections?” As working…

Leading Ideas
0 Preparing for the Shift

Incoming Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says that demographic shifts will bring increased diversity to the neighborhoods around most churches in the coming decades. Rather than simply ignoring changes, churches can prepare for this shift by being in conversation with new neighbors, risking new ministry initiatives, and making room at the table for new voices. Depending on what census report…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Things I Need from a Sermon

What do those in the pews need from a sermon? Larry Buxton says it’s more than platitudes and common sense. An effective sermon needs to speak to people’s real needs and individual situations, challenge them with meaningful truths, share Jesus, and remind people that God is at work in our lives and the world. Since retiring from full-time parish ministry…

Leading Ideas
0 Sources of Authority for Pastoral Leadership

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains that while people may give pastors a leadership position, the true authority needed to lead must be worked out among the people with whom they serve. One’s authority in ministry is rooted not just in one’s calling from God, but in multiple callings, including the calling from the church and the calling of the particular…

Leading Ideas
0 Stories — Your Website’s Secret Sauce

Stories of transformation inspire people to engage in matters of faith. But people rarely hear these stories unless they’re already sitting in the pews. Will Rice suggests featuring stories of transformation on your church website will help potential visitors understand the point of going to church in the first place. Vital churches have long known the power of stories of…

Leading Ideas
0 Learning from Failure

Christian Coon, co-founding pastor of Urban Village Church in Chicago and author of Failing Boldly, believes that a key to fruitful ministry is the ability to endure failure and learn from your mistakes. In the book, he outlines practical steps to encourage honest evaluation. Hollywood star Reese Witherspoon dislikes watching herself on screen. In an interview in 2010, she said:…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Key Characteristics of Diversity-Oriented Churches

Diversity-oriented churches, despite the challenges they face, are some of the fastest growing churches in the United States, says Brian Leander of Adelphi University. He names seven characteristics that help explain how these churches are able to embrace greater racial, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic diversity. Recent trends suggest that a significant number of churches are overcoming the limiting effects of…

Leading Ideas
0 The Secret to Great Preaching

The secret of great preaching, according to Charley Reeb, is to engage your listeners. Stop thinking about what would impress your seminary professors, he says, and instead focus on sermons that will make a difference to people’s real-life circumstances and challenges. Many preachers prepare sermons designed to reach the crowd at a seminary chapel service. They imagine their seminary professors…

Leading Ideas
0 Small Church as Surrogate Family

Lewis A. Parks, author of Small on Purpose, says the small church offers a surrogate family for those whose basic family unit is dispersed or in need of wider circles of reinforcement. Smaller congregations today are not unlike the house churches in the New Testament era, he says, which redefined familial relationships around the bonds of faith. Outside my front…

Leading Ideas
0 Pet Peeves of a Church Visitor

Churches need their most positive, smiling, warmest personalities on their front lines, says Greg Atkinson. Your parking lot team, greeters, ushers, and welcome desk volunteers need to be friendly and welcoming. And most of all, they need to know how vital their role is to the mission of the church. First impressions matter — big time! Sometimes there’s no coming…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Simple Tips to Get More Likes on your Church’s Facebook Page

Your church Facebook page is a huge opportunity for opening your doors to your community, says Jeremy Steele. He shares six strategies to increase your church’s reach on Facebook. Your church’s Facebook page is like the sign in front of your church. Though most churches take good care to make sure their sign by the road is well kept and…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Strategies to Master Meetings

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says church meetings should be holy ground where the Spirit can act because the people of God are gathered in common purpose. She offers seven simple strategies for making meetings more positive and productive. Most church leaders see meetings as an inevitable but regrettable part of church life. But if we really believe…

Leading Ideas
0 The Good Neighbor Church

Sue Nilson Kibbey, who works with missional church initiatives in Ohio, shares the story of a church that engaged the mission field immediately around its building by forming a “Good Neighbor” team. The team’s sole purpose was to get acquainted with every person or family within sight of their church building. A congregation nestled comfortably in the midst of a…

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