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 8 Trends Impacting Church Leadership for 2021

Doug Powe and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center identify eight notable trends in 2020’s swirl of change. Some trends have been underway for some time, but accelerated significantly in the past year, for example the church’s embrace of online ministry. But in other areas, the events of 2020 have led to renewed emphasis on the basics — prayer, fellowship,…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Reasons Your Church Needs a Planned Giving Program

David Heetland says churches would more commonly receive sizable bequests if they put in place well-defined planned giving programs. He outlines six ways that planned giving can benefit a congregation and its members. Giving through one’s will is the most common type of deferred gift. Yet, more than half of American adults don’t have a will. Of those who do…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Ideas: Top Lewis Center Resources of 2020

Lewis Center resources guide you in strengthening your personal leadership and renewing your congregation. Below are our most popular free and purchased resources of the year, plus a free PDF e-book about change. Year-end Savings Save 25% on video tool kits, video-based study curricula, and PDF e-books with coupon code TOP2020 through January 9, 2020. Shop now.  50 Ways to…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Articles of 2020

Each December we take a look at the most popular Leading Ideas articles of the year and give our readers a second chance to glean wisdom from them. This year, in light of 2020’s rapidly evolving circumstances, we looked at things a little differently. These 10 articles are not only among the most read but, in our assessment, they continue…

Leading Ideas
0 Reaching New People this Christmas is More Important than Ever

Ann Michel and Doug Powe of the Lewis Center write that the pandemic makes connecting with new people this Christmas more important than ever. But new ways of being and doing church adopted in the face of the coronavirus present some natural opportunities for outreach and evangelism during this holiday season. Earlier this year as churches adapted to the emerging…

Leading Ideas
0 11 Creative Ways Your Church Can Observe Christmas in 2020

Looking for creative ways to observe Christmas this year? A group of Minnesota churches assembled this list of ways to celebrate ​Advent and Christmas safely during a time when churches can’t enjoy fully packed sanctuaries. 1. Send care packages/worship kits with some Christmas items that families can use or enjoy as they embrace the season. 2. Send out instructions for…

Leading Ideas
0 Small Church Big Impact

Blake Bradford shares how smaller congregations can use their unique giftedness to fulfill their mission. He says smaller churches can enhance their vitality by clarifying their purpose, engaging their community, leveraging relational intimacy to reach people and build disciples, and rightsizing their leadership and governance structures. Every church, large and small, has a God-given potential to make a God-sized impact.…

Leading Ideas
0 Addressing the Root Causes of the Crisis of Younger Clergy

Few doubt that struggles over the United Methodist Church’s stance on homosexuality and uncertainty about the future of the denomination are factors in the recent, precipitous decline in the number of young elders. But Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says the church can’t ignore the myriad other systemic problems causing fewer younger people to enter ministry. The Lewis…

Leading Ideas
0 New Questions for a New Day

Michelle Snyder says that the pandemic presents an opportunity for churches to reframe their thinking and reboot their vision. Rather than tweaking what has always been done, this moment invites churches to embrace an expanded vision of community, catch up with societal trends, and rethink the use of new technologies. Let’s face it. Most people have believed for some time…

Leading Ideas
0 Connecting with Young Adults through Online Ministry

Chris Wilterdink writes that a critical strategy for engaging young adults is to create discipleship opportunities and build relationships in the existing online communities where they are already active. Within these spaces and relationships, the church can provide young adults an opportunity to explore identity, belonging, and purpose. En español — Conectando con los jóvenes adultos a través del ministerio…

Leading Ideas
0 What Does Strong Leadership Look Like?

A strong leader is often defined as one who uses authority to gain influence and advantage. John Matthews, Kristina Gutiérrez, and Ross Peterson point to a different paradigm of strength in church leadership that is neither defensive nor aggressive but loving and respectful of one’s adversaries. 1. Strength is knowing whatever the outcome of any situation, you will be okay.…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Intergenerational Ministry?

Liz Perraud says bringing generations together is a key aspect of Christian community. She suggests church leaders might approach the need to strengthen intergenerational connections as a child might, by asking “why” a lot. Our granddaughter is nearly four and asks “why?” a lot. We take walks on the path through the woods near our home, which is often when…

Leading Ideas
0 A Call to Overinvest in the Young

Bishop Janice Huie calls for a new approach to engaging younger people in the church. She argues for overinvesting in young people who don’t sit in our pews every Sunday by drawing resources from the center to the periphery of the church. The primary narrative for conversations about engaging youth, young adults, and young clergy has been the metaphor of…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Closing a Church Ever a Good Thing?

Tim Snyder of the Lewis Center Staff writes that closing a church often brings conflict, denial, and shame. But death is a natural passage in the lifecycle of a church. To approach it honestly and gracefully is an act of profound gospel leadership that can bring forth new opportunities and renewed hope. Let’s face it. There is a significant downward…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Ask People to Give (Even in a Pandemic)

Margaret Marcuson shares ideas for asking people to support the church even in these most uncertain times. She says leaders should set an example through their own giving, preach regularly about money and faith, tell the story of people’s gifts at work, and overcome their own reluctance to ask. “How can I ask people to give to our ministry when…

Leading Ideas
0 12 Practices to Cultivate Humble Leadership

The best leaders understand the importance of humble servanthood. But what practical measures can a leader take to demonstrate genuine humility? David Horner offers 12 practical suggestions to cultivate a humble spirit. Maybe I am too much of a pragmatist, but sometimes a leader just needs to know what to do next and why that is important. Since I am…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ideas for Your 2020 Annual Campaign

Wondering how to approach a stewardship campaign in the era of COVID-19? Ken Sloane offers ideas that affirm the importance of the church’s ongoing mission while being sensitive to economic loss, attentive to people’s experiences and stories, and grateful for all gifts. In a more “normal” time, congregational planning would be underway for the annual campaign. Though it may look…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Like Moses: 4 Ways to Know What to Delegate

Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield say that delegation is a critical skill that improves a leader’s focus, multiplies impact, and develops the capacity of others. They offer four key questions to help a leader discern which tasks and responsibilities should be delegated to others. There are certain things that only you can do from your position of leadership. There are…

Leading Ideas
0 The Church and Election Day

Although congregations are prohibited from endorsing candidates or parties, Doug Powe and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff say there is much a church can do to encourage people to vote, ensure that voting occurs in a safe and secure manner, and encourage hope and civility in this polarized time. Conducting a national election in the midst of a…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Addictions the Church Must Overcome to Grow in the Future

Carey Nieuwhof explains that churches must respond to a culture that has become even more digital, mobile, and home-centered during the COVID-19 crisis. He predicts growing churches will focus less on place-based ministry and packed rooms and will adjust budgets and attitudes to fit a new reality. You’ve probably learned a lot about yourself in the last year. Crisis does…

Leading Ideas
0 Congregations That Thrive without Full-Time Clergy

Jeffrey MacDonald shares the story of a Massachusetts church on the brink of closing that turned itself around by embracing a new ministry model with a part-time pastor. A key to success, he says, is shedding conventional wisdom about who is supposed to do what in congregational ministry. From the outside, First Parish Church (United Church of Christ) in Newbury,…

Leading Ideas
0 Participation Is Up but Giving is Down for Many Congregations During the Pandemic

A Lake Institute survey reveals that the impact of the pandemic on U.S. congregations has been mixed. A majority of congregations (52 percent) reported an increase in participation, but a plurality of respondents (41 percent) experienced a decrease in giving. During these unprecedented times, how have congregations responded? Through a recent survey of congregational leaders from across the country, Lake…

Leading Ideas
0 Young Elder Numbers Return to Near Historic Low in UMC

Lovett H. Weems Jr. reports that the number of young elders in the United Methodist Church has dropped precipitously in the past two years. The number of elders age 35 and under has fallen nearly to the record low recorded 15 years ago, erasing a decade of progress. This year, the number of young elders (under 35) in the United…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Suggestions for Managing Conflict in Polarized Contexts

Effective leadership is the critical variable that holds an institution together when conflict threatens to tear it apart. David R. Brubaker says a high level of conflict is less likely when leaders engage conflict, manage polarities, commit to respectful cooperation, speak truth, and protect their people. Few individuals are eager to lead in a polarized time. Yet leaders today cannot…

Leading Ideas
0 Is It Time to Right-Size Your Staff?

This might be the time to have a conversation about right-sizing your staff, says Jim Kitchens. He outlines different ways to approach the task depending on the urgency of the situation. Many churches have been struggling for years to raise the financial resources needed to maintain the staffing model they’ve “always had.” This struggle has come into even sharper focus…

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