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 Innovating to Build Communities Where All Can Flourish: An In-depth Interview with K Scarry

How can a passion for helping people flourish lead to social innovation? K Scarry share about social innovation and the ways she is supporting local artists, helping create spaces where everyone can thrive, and more.   Watch the interview video on YouTube, listen to this interview, or continue reading. Doug Powe: Share a little bit about yourself and how you got into…

Leading Ideas
0 Preparing to Receive a New Pastor from a Different Racial or Cultural Background 

How can a congregation help an incoming pastor from a different racial or cultural background lay the groundwork for successful ministry? The United Methodist General Commission on Religion and Race shares strategies and resources to help congregations and leaders in cross-cultural ministry partnerships begin on the right foot.   When preparing to receive a new pastor from a different racial or…

Leading Ideas
0 New Pastors Should Make Time to Listen

Sidney Williams writes that a top priority for a new pastor needs to be listening to the stories of congregants to discern needs, learn who the leaders are, and build community. The importance of spending time listening, sharing, laughing, and crying together cannot be overstated. This article was originally published on June 10, 2020. The first year of a pastoral…

Leading Ideas
0 Community Transformation and Justice Require More Than Preaching

Community transformation and justice require more than preaching. Kevin Slayton calls preachers to put their faith in action by cultivating relationships and establishing partnerships with people and organizations working for justice in the local community, sharing their prophetic voices by engaging social media platforms, and developing an awareness of the local political process.  There is a trend of thought suggesting…

Leading Ideas
0 An Open Letter to Church Leaders from an Unmarried Church Staff Member

What do unmarried individuals in ministry want other church leaders to know about the joys and challenges they encounter? This anonymous open letter shares the experiences and perspectives of a single staff member serving in a church culture slanted toward “marrieds with children.” Dear Church Leaders, As a single person on the staff of your church I wanted to take…

Leading Ideas
0 Doing Justice Together: An In-depth Interview with Michael Adam Beck and Stephanie Moore Hand

How can a faith community organize itself to combat the sin of racism? In this interview, Michael Adam Beck and Stephanie Moore Hand share a practical framework from their book Doing Justice Together that reimagines discipleship, leadership, and evangelism as tools for change.   Watch the interview video on YouTube, listen to this interview, or continue reading. Ann Michel: I think in…

Leading Ideas
0 Understanding Your Place in Church Conflict

Doug Tzan, a faculty member at Wesley Theological Seminary, explains how critical it is for pastoral leaders to understand their own role in church conflict and be intentional in choosing how to respond. He outlines five strategies to help a leader maintain a helpful presence in the midst of conflict. Early in my tenure in ministry, a retired pastor in…

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. This article was originally published on April 19, 2017. In the 21st century, the church is facing…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Characteristics of Effective Preaching in the Wake of Mass Trauma

How would you preach next Sunday if a mass shooting, a natural disaster, or a public health crisis shook your community? Sadly, such events are so common that every preacher needs to be prepared. Preaching professor Kimberly Wagner outlines five characteristics of preaching in the wake of mass trauma that create a safe space for people to lay their experiences…

Leading Ideas
0 Shirley Chisholm’s Applied Christianity

Lovett H. Weems Jr. reflects on the legacy of Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to serve in congress. Chisholm was an advocate for justice and equality who called the church to focus on the needs of others. When Shirley Chisholm was raising money for children and youth projects at Janes United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, having joined in…

Leading Ideas
0 Trends in Latino Congregations: An In-depth Interview with Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi

How are the trends in majority Latino congregations different from those in non-Latino congregations? Jessica Anschutz speaks with Kristina Lizardy-Hajbi about her report Latino Congregations: Trends from the Faith Communities Today (FACT) and Exploring the Pandemic Impact on Congregations (EPIC) Studies. It reveals that while Latino congregations face financial difficulties, a majority have experienced growth or remained stable in recent…

Leading Ideas
0 Fresh Hope for Rural Churches

Rural churches are anchors in their communities and can use their property assets to bring new hope to their neighbors. Jennie Birkholz describes how creative partnerships between churches, nonprofits, health systems, and others can respond to critical needs and draw together people who don’t normally interact.  Churches can no longer be insular institutions and instead must open hearts and buildings…

Leading Ideas
0 Intergenerational Ministry for the Post-pandemic Church

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says siloed age-level ministries often prevent congregations from worshiping together around one common table. But the pandemic provided an opportunity for us to rethink our concepts of place and space and to reimagine what it means for us all to be together. This article was originally published on June 29, 2021. If your family is…

Leading Ideas
0 Quiet Acts of Strategic Resistance Open a Congregation to its Neighbors

Laura Heikes, pastor of a predominantly Anglo congregation in a Texas border town, shares how her congregation became more present to the people and culture of the surrounding community. Several small but strategic “acts of resistance” challenging dominant cultural norms were the first steps in a process of renewal aimed at transforming her church from a “rich white church” to…

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. This article was originally published on March 8, 2017. Increased worship attendance on Easter Sunday requires some churches to set up spaces beyond the…

Leading Ideas
0 Negotiating the Coming Wave of Church Property Transitions: An In-depth Interview with Mark Elsdon

Is your church facing the difficult decision to sell or repurpose property? This interview with Mark Elsdon, editor of Gone for Good?, focuses on how congregations can resell or repurpose church property in ways that avoids common pitfalls and propels their missions forward.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Ann Michel: Your entrée into…

Leading Ideas
0 Risking Experiments for God’s Reign 

Where is God’s movement taking place in new ways for new times? Cherished narratives, programs, language, and structures are no longer producing the fruit associated with them during past eras. Lovett Weems says innovation is possible if church leaders challenge the assumptions behind what we are doing because they no longer match the current reality.   Most church leaders spend much…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Policies Your Church Should Consider

Ken Sloane, a stewardship expert at Discipleship Ministries, outlines ten policies for institutional trust and financial integrity that reduce confusion and conflict while at the same time encourage generosity to support your mission and responsible use of congregational resources. Some people equate the word “policy” with “bureaucracy,” and that’s not hard to understand — both have to do with decision-making.…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Essential Ways Leaders Build Relationships with Their Team Members

Dan Reiland says investing in relationships is the make-or-break factor that determines the success of your leadership. He provides ten helpful tips for interacting with others that will help nurture positive relationships that will keep things running smoothly. The quality and enduring nature of your relationships will make or break your leadership. That axiom is true in every arena of…

Leading Ideas
0 A Growing Church Understands the Interconnection between Discipleship and Evangelism

Rev. Dr. Michael L. Henderson Sr. describes how a church he planted grew to over 7,000 members through an intentional process for developing disciples grounded in the core belief that discipleship and evangelism are organically interconnected.  Decades ago, I planted New Beginnings Church (NBC), a solo church plant located in Matthews, North Carolina, outside of Charlotte. NBC started with 12…

Leading Ideas
0 Transformational Leadership for Urban Ministries: An In-Depth Interview with Tony Hunt

How can church leaders address the challenges of urban ministry in a transformative way? Doug Powe speaks with Tony Hunt, a pastor and scholar, about reading a community well, identifying assets, and the importance of understanding your ministry context. Learn how to develop the transformative qualities of effective leadership. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Delegation Lessons for Church Leaders

A balanced delegation of tasks may necessitate doing fewer activities and doing better discipleship training. Drawing on his own experience, Karl Vaters offers five delegation lessons for church leaders including: leave guilt at the door, adapt to suit your size, stop activities that are without leadership, do nothing without two leaders, and assess and hone your delegation skills.  When I…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Strategies for Reaching and Developing Gen Z

How can congregations build meaningful connections with young adults? Brandi Nicole Williams, Director for the African American Church Evangelism Institute, offers eight practical strategies for bridging the generational gap and fostering relationships with Gen Z to build a more relevant church community.   In today’s rapidly changing world, the church faces a critical challenge: engaging and connecting with Generation Z, born…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Compass Points Guide Character Formation and Lifelong Discipleship for Youth

The Fuller Youth Institute’s “Faith Beyond Youth Group” research initiative explored character as the vehicle for both faith longevity and faith vibrancy throughout the week. Their research yielded five compass points to guide the formation of character in young people — cultivating trust, modeling growth, teaching for transformation, practicing together, and making meaning.   The findings from the Faith Beyond Youth…

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