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 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…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading with Love — An In-Depth Interview with Elaine Robinson

Is your leadership so preoccupied with strategies and actions that you’ve lost sight of the ultimate why? In this interview, Elaine Robinson shares why love must be the foundation of all Christian leadership. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Ann Michel: Your book, Leading with Love: Spiritual Disciplines for Practical Leadership, is grounded…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Key Principles for Fostering Generosity in Children

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says the church needs to renew efforts to foster generosity in our children. She shares five principles that can help instill the joy of giving in the next generation of givers. How can we help our children become responsible, generous, unselfish people? This question is critical to the church as it looks to…

Leading Ideas
0 A Simple Step-by-Step Process for Creating a Narrative Budget

Church finance expert Bonnie Ives Marden says presenting your budget in narrative form provides a powerful tool for stewardship, evangelism, and marketing. She outlines a step-by-step process for converting a standard line item budget to an inspiring document that highlights your mission. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular posts…

Leading Ideas
0 Innovating Faithfully through Action Learning Experiments

The authors of a new book, Leading Faithful Innovation, explain how engaging in simple, repeatable, and affordable learning experiments can create an environment where people feel safe trying new things. They provide seven simple steps to help your church employ simple practices to get outside your comfort zone and connect with neighbors in new ways.   Most people do not like…

Leading Ideas
0 Expanding the Ministry of Laity in Worship

Andy Lunt and Ted Brown say a commitment to lay empowerment must include allowing gifted laity central roles in worship, including preaching and offering prayers. Congregations that regard worship as the exclusive domain of clergy silence the powerful witness of laity that could do so much to transform the church and the world.  Worship is often neglected as an opportunity…

Leading Ideas
0 Funding Forward: Developing New Revenue Sources for Your Congregation — An In-Depth Interview with Grace Pomroy

Grace Pomroy from Luther Seminary shares research findings on how congregations are developing new and creative funding sources. In this in-depth interview with Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff, she explains how congregations can lessen their dependence on Sunday morning offerings in ways that can bolster the bottom line while also building connections with neighbors and advancing the church’s…

Leading Ideas
0 Number of Young Elders in the United Methodist Church Reaches a Record Low Number in 2023

Lovett H. Weems Jr. highlights the decline in numbers of young clergy in the Lewis Center’s annual Clergy Age Trends Report. A dramatic decline in young elders, deacons, and licensed local pastors continues in the United Methodist Church.  Download the complete 2023 Clergy Age Trends Report. A Korean language translation of this article is available through United Methodist Communications. For…

Leading Ideas
0 There Is No Such Thing as Church Revitalization

William Chaney says revitalization is the wrong goal for churches in decline, since it implies a return to the past. Churches need to instead rewrite their DNA by rediscovering their mission, reengaging their neighborhood, and refocusing their resources. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular posts of the past 20…

Leading Ideas
0 The Stone Soup Recipe for Vital Small Church Worship

Teresa Stewart says that small congregations have a powerful worship planning option that expands participation, emphasizes lay leadership, ends the burnout of meetings, invites local gifts, and heightens anticipation. It’s called Stone Soup worship planning.  Maybe you’ve heard it said that for lavish worship, congregations must have a “Worship Design Team” — experts gathered to design, script, rehearse, and coordinate…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Tools for Holy Work With Children

Tanya Campen offers six tools to help children process their experiences and discoveries about God. Through story, liturgy and ritual, relational awareness, memory markers, wonder, and work, children experience and respond to God’s presence and love. Recognizing that children learn about God in varying contexts and traditions, and acknowledging all children learn and process at different paces and in different…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Inclusive Communities: An In-Depth Interview with Brandan Robertson

How can church leaders build an inclusive community of faith? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff interviews Brandan Robertson, the “TikTok Pastor,” about social media ministry, intersectional inclusivity, and the challenges of building inclusive community.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Jessica Anschutz: Before we talk about your book, Brandan, share how you…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Key Characteristics of Missional Congregations

Congregations that want to move forward and live more missionally need to understand and embody four key characteristics, says F. Douglas Powe, director of the Lewis Center and the James C. Logan Chair in Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship) at Wesley Theological Seminary. Missional congregations must be connected to their context, bound as a community by a common story,…

Leading Ideas
0 The 5 P’s of Sustainability for Small Churches

Rebekah Simon-Peter says small churches cannot succeed by emulating the megachurch model of programming for every stage of life. She believes that five P’s — people, prayer, provision, partnership, and presence — are key to the sustainability of smaller churches. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular posts of the…

Leading Ideas
0 Blessing of the Animals as Community Outreach

How can a Blessing of the Animals reach new people in your community? Jessica Anschutz shares tips to engage pet owners and community partners as you celebrate all creatures great and small. Many congregations celebrate a blessing of the animals on or around October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis, while other congregations have a Blessing of the Animals sometime…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Church Really Need All Those Committees?

Are your church members kept busy doing committee work they are neither gifted for nor excited about? Andy Lunt and Ted Brown say congregations can free people to serve more fruitfully in ministry by reassessing the role of any committee not essential to their mission or required by their polity. Church committees can be the black hole of ministry. Good…

Leading Ideas
0 Improve Your Time Management and Enhance Your Ministry: An In-Depth Interview with Nicole Reilley

How can church leaders improve their time management and maximize ministry? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff interviews Nicole Reilley about time management, saying no, and prioritizing rest and sabbath. Learn how digital resources can help you better manage your time. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Jessica Anschutz: As you know from…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Minimize the Stress of Pastor and Employee Evaluations

Sarai Rice says congregations often evaluate pastors and staff in ways that lead to a lot of stress but little clarity or accountability. She offers five suggestions for how churches can reduce the stress and structure evaluations to enable pastors and their teams to pursue the church’s vision with energy and imagination. Pastors can be in a tough spot —…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Turnoffs for Millennials Seeking a Church

Drawing on research conducted by the Barna Group, Jeremy Steele outlines some of the turnoffs for millennials when they visit new churches. An outdated digital presence and a lack of diversity top the list. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular posts of the past 20 years. We are pleased…

Leading Ideas
0 The Divine Logic of Delegation

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff explains that delegation and collaboration are more than effective leadership strategies. They are acts of faith that imitate the way God chooses to engage humankind in God’s mission. And they are essential expressions of Christian humility. Those of us who are parents know that inviting young children to help prepare dinner or rake…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ways to Make Your Church More Inclusive

How can a church community move beyond conversations and aspirations to practice true inclusion in their daily life and ministry? Brandan Robertson shares ten key strategies and principles that can help your church truly embody the gospel’s call of radical inclusivity.   Many communities and individuals desire to embrace the gospel’s call to become truly inclusive, but often that desire never…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Faithful Innovation: An In-depth Interview with Dwight Zscheile

What if congregational change didn’t focus on setting goals or planning new programs? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff interviews Dwight Zscheile, coauthor of Leading Faithful Innovation. He shares a simple three-step process for experimenting with new practices that allow you to discover what God is already doing in the lives of your neighbors and to find ways to…

Leading Ideas
0 What to Do When the Wrong Person is in a Key Staff Position

Many churches are rethinking their staffing needs. Susan Beaumont says designing the new staffing structure is easier than making the needed personnel changes to enact the plan. She outlines ways that congregations can implement a proactive transition plan that will help realize their objectives more quickly and can be kinder in the long run to everyone involved. What is the…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Functions of a Church Choir

Brian Hehn says a church can have a vital music ministry if its choir focuses on four key functions — leading and enlivening congregational singing, singing music that the congregation cannot, serving as a small group within the church for faith formation, and singing music that glorifies God and edifies the congregation. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Characteristics of Good Discipling Relationships

Phil Maynard and Eddie Pipkin say education-based approaches to spiritual formation often fail to form disciples committed to Christlike living. They suggest doing what Jesus did — focusing intentionally on spiritual growth and development within a context of relationality and accountability.  Despite the significant investment of time, financial resources, and amazing educational options over the past few decades, research indicates…

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