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 Building Your Stewardship Team

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says forming a lay-led stewardship team is key to a successful stewardship campaign and to fostering a culture of generosity within your church. She outlines the need, benefits, and implementation steps for creating such a group. Who’s responsible in your church for cultivating generosity and encouraging people to give? In many churches the…

Leading Ideas
0 Doing Planning Differently

What if you focused on making already-planned ministry events better rather than creating new events? Olu Brown offers three planning strategies for Doing Church Differently™ and returning to simplicity. At Impact Church, we trademarked the term Doing Church Differently™. Currently, we are saying Doing Planning Differently because there is little that is the same compared to our plans before COVID-19.…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Hospitality and Stewardship Lessons from a Homecoming

How are visitors to your congregation greeted and welcomed? Ken Sloane outlines five lessons for extending hospitality and engaging new givers.  While traveling earlier this year, I had the opportunity to worship at the church where I grew up. As I drove to the church, I began to think about the impact it had on my family growing up and…

Leading Ideas
0 Getting Beyond Ministry Burnout and Tiredness

Tiredness and burnout in church leadership occur primarily because leaders over-function, micromanage, or are placed in roles that do not use their God-given spiritual gifts. Jaye Johnson says the antidote is to reclaim the passion that comes when one leads out of one’s own unique giftedness.   I run into many church leaders, clergy and laity, who tell me they are…

Leading Ideas
0 Church on the Move

How can your church reorient its posture toward its neighbors and neighborhood? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff interviews Minnesota pastor Travis Norvell on his decision to conduct his ministry by bike, on foot, and on public transportation, and how it revealed new people, new partners, and new possibilities for ministry. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on…

Leading Ideas
0 One Invitation Away from Returning

Are there folks in your church who got out of the habit of attending during the pandemic and haven’t returned yet? Rebekah Simon-Peter says that one sincere, guilt-free invitation might be all that is needed to get them back. The common wisdom is that a church only has three weeks to connect with people who are absent. After that, they’ve…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Essential Elements of Fruitful Small Groups

What are the essential elements of a fruitful small group? Scott Hughes names and explains six elements that characterize effective small groups — prayer and scripture, Bible study, accountability, nurture and care, mission, and covenant. 1. Prayer and scripture The two most obvious elements of a small group are the spiritual practices of prayer and reading scripture. Unfortunately, prayer can…

Leading Ideas
0 What to Do When People Leave Your Church

Ron Edmondson writes that people leave churches for all kinds of reasons, but it’s still hard not to take it personally. He shares five tips to ease the pain of losing those in whom you’ve invested. One tough reality of being a pastor is that people you thought were supportive of your ministry leave the church. For a variety of…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Be Yourself in the Spotlight of Public Ministry

Sarah Bereza’s new book, Professional Christian, examines the question of what it means to be fully yourself in the spotlight of public ministry. She sets aside the popular concepts of authenticity and sincerity and focuses instead on preparation and mindfulness as ways we can be fully present and fully ourselves within the demands of real-time ministry. Think back to a…

Leading Ideas
0 What Makes Christian Social Innovation Christian?

How can church leaders approach innovation in ways that are consistent with their faith? Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe interviews Kenda Creasy Dean, author of Innovating for Love. She says Christian social innovation focuses on people not problems and seeks to participate in God’s new thing rather than trying to get God to participate in ours. Listen to this…

Leading Ideas
0 Understanding and Honoring Your Congregation’s Unique Culture

Roy Spore says every church has its own culture and a unique set of accumulated values. Productive leaders know how to identify these values and use them to drive decisions, inspire action, and move the congregation forward toward its vision. Every local church has its own unique culture. That culture is derived from years and decades of the people living…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Principles of Dramatic Improvisation Inform a Healthier Response to Conflict

David Woolverton explains how the key principles of dramatic improvisation can provide a helpful framework for responding to conflict and change in congregations. Engaging the creative edge of improvisation can produce an environment of substantive hope amid the chaos of a church conflict. To lead amid conflict in today’s congregations, we need to accommodate an increasingly complex and unpredictable church…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Critical Steps in Deploying Your Vision

Discerning a new vision is only the first step toward congregational renewal and change. Olu Brown outlines four critical steps necessary to make that new vision come alive — convening a team, sharing a new narrative, asking questions, and not being afraid to fail. When you have discerned and discovered your vision, the next move is to deploy the vision.…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Making Your Church Multigenerational Is Worth the Effort

Chuck Lawless says it is hard to be a multigenerational church, but it is worth the effort. He outlines some of the benefits of multigenerational ministry as well as the obstacles that prevent many congregations from embodying this ideal. Many churches consist of one primary generation, and that’s not the healthiest church. At the same time, though, growing an intentionally…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Expand the Reach of Small Groups

How can you prevent your small groups from becoming inwardly focused and impenetrable to newcomers? Doug Powe and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff outline four strategies to help groups maintain an outward focus and an invitational posture. Small groups are essential venues of personal and spiritual development for many in our faith communities. The intimacy of smaller gatherings…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Know When You Need to Ask for Help

Is your cup empty? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff writes that many church leaders feel drained by the demands of ministry in these challenging times. She says it’s important to recognize when you need help and outlines strategies to replenish your leadership capacity. “My cup overflows” proclaims the psalmist, yet many church leaders find their cups are almost…

Leading Ideas
0 Lessons from the Fresh Expressions Movement: In-depth Interview with Luke Edwards

What can we learn from the Fresh Expression movement’s novel approach to forming new faith communities? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews Luke Edwards, a church developer from Western North Carolina. He shares how a process that begins with listening and relationship building can lead to the formation of new, nontraditional worshipping communities among those unlikely to attend…

Leading Ideas
0 Youth Ministry by Any Other Name

Kenda Creasy Dean writes that today ministry with young people often means finding young people where they live and work and embedding the church beside them as they seek meaning, purpose, and belonging. She says that Christian social innovation, especially, has become an alternate context for ministry with young people. A few years ago, I was speaking at a large…

Leading Ideas
0 Faith Leaders Are First Responders in Preventing Suicide

Anne Mathews-Younes writes that faith leaders and faith communities are in a unique position to prevent suicide. She shares information about how to recognize the warning signs for suicide, ask the suicide question, and get help for those who are at risk. More than 46,000 people died by suicide in 2020. It is the ninth most frequent cause of death…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Stewardship Priorities for Incoming Pastors

What stewardship tasks require the attention of a pastor beginning ministry in a new congregational setting? Lovett H. Weems Jr. and Ann A. Michel of the Lewis Center Staff share a list of initial stewardship priorities for incoming pastors. When a pastor begins ministry in a new church there is much to learn and many areas of ministry demand attention.…

Leading Ideas
0 Listening to Your Community

It’s easy to lose sight of the ways God is alive and at work in our communities without intentional efforts to know and understand our neighbors. Paul Nixon describes three strategies for reconnecting with the pulse of your community. Even if we have lived in the same neighborhood for decades, we may be surprised to discover more closely the experiences…

Leading Ideas
0 Four Incarnational Benefits of Bivocational Ministry

Steven Van Ostran challenges the common perception that bivocational ministers are second class or somehow “less than” those serving full time. He names four specific ways bivocational ministry can make the church more present to the community, more relevant, and more prophetic. It has been my experience that bivocational ministers see themselves and are looked upon by others as second-class…

Leading Ideas
0 A Simple Approach to Creating a Culture of Accountability for Ministry Leaders

Kelly Brown says that creating a culture of accountability can be simple. SIMPLE is an acronym for remembering these six key principles: setting expectations, inviting commitment, measuring progress, providing feedback, linking consequences, and evaluating effectiveness. Unfortunately, in our culture today, accountability is most often seen as a negative or punitive action. Too often accountability shows up when something goes wrong,…

Leading Ideas
0 Christian Social Innovation Starts with Who, Not Why or How

Churches do their best innovating when they focus less on “great ideas” or attempting to “fix the church” and more on the needs and longings of the people in their communities. Kenda Creasy Dean reminds us that love is the relentless driver of Christian social innovation. I hate the word innovation. It is one of those terms used so promiscuously…

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