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 Fruitful Leadership for a Mission-Shaped Church

The Bible is replete with stories of fields and harvests, vines and branches, stumps and shoots, trees and figs. This imagery of “fruitfulness” gives us a language for understanding effective Christian leadership. While the secular world speaks about “results-oriented” leadership, we in the church think of “fruitful” leadership. Fruitful Leadership is Purposeful The other day, I was driving home from…

Leading Ideas
0 A Plentiful Harvest

I grew up in a town surrounded by apple orchards. Orchard workers tended the trees throughout the year. They put spacers in the branches, fertilized, trimmed and sprayed the trees so that every fall the orchard would be laden with fruit. An orchard worker’s success depends on several things. First, he or she needs a vision of what a healthy…

Leading Ideas
0 Important Lessons My Congregation Helped Me Learn

Several years ago, my church was adding a fourth Sunday morning worship service. Although necessary to accommodate our growth, this change would stretch us in the parking lot, nursery, and in organizing volunteers. One key to success was having our people arrive on time or even early to turnover parking spaces. On the Sunday before the launch, many people were…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Worship for Those Not There Yet

I went for the first time to a church in a scruffy area of Bristol. It was an evening service and there were perhaps thirty-five people in a church that had been built for hundreds.After about ten minutes I recognized there was something strange about the way the vicar, who had only recently come to the parish, was conducting the…

Leading Ideas
0 Developing a Strategy for Your Congregation

During our various building projects, it was noticeable how people pulled together. They took pride in achieving things. They put themselves out for the common good. When we were not building, it was more difficult. The problem with much church life is we are dealing with the invisible and the ineffable. You cannot quantify growth in holiness at the annual…

Leading Ideas
0 Planting A Garden: Growing The Church Beyond Tradtional Models

A decade ago, Linda S. McCoy, one of the pastors of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, set out to create a non-traditional worship experience to reach those turned off or turned out by traditional church. Her new book, Planting a Garden: Growing the Church Beyond Traditional Models, describes the process of forming an off-site satellite congregation. To succeed…

Leading Ideas
0 The Gift

“What would stewardship season be without the widow’s mite?” muses Barbara Brown Taylor inThe Preaching Life (Cowley Publications, 1993). “It would be like Thanksgiving without turkey, Christmas without presents, Easter without eggs.” This ancient text might be dismissed as merely prosaic – that is, if it were not so utterly prophetic. Preachers often think about how to make the Gospel…

Leading Ideas
0 A Leading Ideas Interview with Adam Hamilton

The Rev. Adam Hamilton is one of the outstanding mainline church leaders in America. At age 26 he started the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. He has led COR in becoming a dynamic congregation of over 14,000 members. In 2000, he was named by PBS’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly…

Leading Ideas
0 Defining Congregational Effectiveness

What makes a church strong? Too often, measures of church success seem illusive and intangible or, alternatively, superficial and arbitrary. However, new broad-scale empirical research is helping to define the qualitative factors of congregational effectiveness and their impact on growth. The U.S. Congregational Life Survey found only three strengths positively associated with numerical growth: caring for children and youth; participating…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Healthy Conflict Practices into Membership Vows

I have always struggled with the presence of seemingly unnecessary conflict in congregations. Some unhealthy behaviors, such as control issues and gossip, can be seen as individual personality problems. Yet, they can result in a systemic illness for the entire congregation. So how do we create conditions that encourage naturally occurring conflicts to be handled in a healthy manner?” or…

Leading Ideas
0 The Church of the Good Air

How a church is born can make a difference in how that church lives. Will the congregation begun as a pioneering new church start always be a risk-taking congregation? Is the new congregation that results from a controversial church split destined to be conflicted throughout its life span? If a church was birthed in a resort area as a place…

Leading Ideas
0 What I Learned from a Group of Unruly Youth

During the spring of 2003, I was part of the “Littlemore Roadshow” bringing workshops to high schoolers in rural Alberta. We were scheduled to work with seventy eleventh graders in Wainwright – a group so difficult most of their teachers had given up on them. But their reputation did not concern me. “I am an experienced youth minister,” I thought,…

Leading Ideas
0 Making Church Matter for Youth

What is the religious life of American youth like? A trio of recent books offers some guideposts to navigate the sociological and theological terrain of youth ministry. They call into question many traditional assumptions about teenagers and religion, reveal the depth and complexity of spiritual formation in youth, and challenge the church to take both young people and the Gospel…

Leading Ideas
0 Ten Commandments for Pastors New to a Congregation

Making transitions is one of the key challenges for all leaders, including church leaders. An inability to make transitions well is a key factor in “derailment” in secular positions. We also know that much of a pastor’s effectiveness in a particular church assignment is shaped in the early days and months of ministry in that setting. Lawrence W. Farris has written…

Leading Ideas
0 Death by Meeting

The title alone is enough to make you reach for the book. Although it is written for the secular, corporate world, the book relates quite easily to church and synagogue as well as most other groups that are meeting themselves to death. Its author, Patrick Lencioni, is president of The Table Group, a San Francisco Bay area management consulting firm.…

Leading Ideas
0 When Good Practices Are No Longer Good Enough

A friend sent me a book a few years ago. It seemed a strange book for a seminary president, as I was at the time, to receive from this dedicated lay person. The book was a study of the disk drive industry, of all things. While not all of the book is useful to us in the church, I have…

Leading Ideas
0 Ducking Spears, Dancing Madly: A Biblical Model of Church Leadership

Lew Parks and Bruce Birch have made a marvelous contribution to church leaders as they bring together Bible, theology, and leadership studies for their model of church leadership. The book is enriched by the incisive exegetical work of Birch on 1 and 2 Samuel, the extensive pastoral and judicatory experience of Parks, and the astute theological sensibilities and writing gifts…

Leading Ideas
0 Moving Established Congregations through Change

1. Learn the story of the church you serve.   I have found that laity who have been in a church a long time love to talk about the life they have enjoyed there. They feel complimented when you ask them lots of questions about how that church has changed over time and what values have remained the same. If…

Leading Ideas
0 All the Mainline News That’s Fit to Print

The statistical decline of mainline denominations has been well documented. Less certain is any decline in cultural influence since social impact and numbers are not always synonymous. Online resources make certain types of tracking and research much easier today than in the past. With this in mind, we set out to track the use of identifying words for several mainline…

Leading Ideas
0 Opening Up the Small Membership Church

Anthony Pappas is area minister for the Old Colony Association of the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. He was formerly pastor on Block Island. His book Entering the World of the Small Membership Church (Alban, revised edition 2000) is a fine resource. More recently he edited a collection of articles from newsletters and magazines, Inside the Small Church (Alban, 2002).…

Leading Ideas
0 New Life for a 100-year-old Church

Before going to this church eight years ago, I heard tragic stories about the church. Most of the members were dead or dying, I was told, except for the mean ones who are alive and well! Needless to say, I went reluctantly, but leading this church has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. A turning point came…

Leading Ideas
0 Basketball Coaching and Leadership

Last Christmas I received a copy of Phil Jackson’s book, The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul. It is Jackson’s reflections on his last season as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. Though it was not Jackson’s explicit purpose, I realized the book contains some important insights about leadership. There is always a transcendent element…

Leading Ideas
0 Successful Planning and Evaluation for Religious Organizations

Churches, along with many serving institutions, tend to focus more on “what we do” and “how we do it” than on “what we accomplish.” Church leaders can always claim that what the church is about is “hard to measure.” While that is true, when a church begins any endeavor, from a worship service to a food pantry, there are certainly…

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