Browsing: 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 10 Ways to Reach Unchurched People at Christmas

Pastor Carey Nieuwhof says unchurched people want to celebrate Christmas, so there is no better time to connect with friends and neighbors who rarely, if ever, go to church. He offers ten ways your church can be involved in the unique opportunity to reach people at Christmas. Christmas provides a unique opportunity to reach people who no longer ordinarily attend…

Leading Ideas
0 Some Old Handbells Became Our Fish and Loaves

Pastor Rosario Picardo tells how selling two old sets of silver handbells that hadn’t been used for 20 years provided a surprisingly large infusion of cash to a fledgling church plant in an old building. He offers suggestions on how to inventory and sell smaller assets that have outlived their usefulness, but may be worth more than you think. The reality…

Leading Ideas
0 People Want to Attend a Generous Church

Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris UMC in Herndon, Virginia, says that for Christians to become generous, they need the help of a church that itself is generous. Congregations that embody their belief in the generosity and the abundance of God inspire those who want to be part of something bigger and do something more than they can do on their…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Between Memory and Vision

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains that God’s leaders always live in the tension between memory of the past and hope for the future. Effective leaders draw from the heritage of faith to point toward a new vision of where God is calling us in the future. Church leaders stand today between a past that is gone and a future awaiting its…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Church Need a Capital Budget?

Lewis Center Director Lovett H. Weems, Jr., describes how formulating and funding a capital budget can help a church stay on top of building maintenance expenses. In the absence of such a plan, congregations often defer routine maintenance until they are confronted with a major crisis — and then don’t have sufficient resources to respond. Churches face a common dilemma…

Leading Ideas
0 Do Your Church Events Serve a Healthy Purpose?

Is your church calendar crammed with one event after another? Church consultant Tony Morgan says many congregations just keep scheduling the same events without ever evaluating whether they contribute to the congregation’s goals. He lays out a set of criteria for distinguishing between productive and unproductive events. Many churches are over-programmed and event-driven. Generally, the thought behind all the events…

Leading Ideas
0 The 75 Percent Rule to Reach Younger People

Lee Kricher, pastor of Amplify Church in Pittsburgh, says it’s unlikely that younger adults will be drawn to a service where the people in visible leadership are significantly older than they are. So his church has instituted a rule requiring that 75 percent of worship leaders in visible roles be 35 years old or younger, since that’s the average age of…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Year-End Evaluations Rarely Help Leaders Grow

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., explains why year-end performance evaluations are insufficient to help people grow and improve. While year-end reviews are important, ongoing feedback that occurs “along the way” during the course of the year is not only less anxiety producing; it is also more effective in helping someone do their job better. Year-end reviews are common for most of…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Things Great Preachers Do Differently

What separates good preachers from great preachers? Charley Reeb, a Florida pastor known as a gifted preacher, says talent is less important than approaching the task with the right perspective and preparing effectively. He outlines ten things that you can do to become a great preacher. While I wouldn’t argue that some great preachers are also gifted communicators, great talent…

Leading Ideas
0 Adopting a Missionary Mindset

Douglas Ruffle, who works with the Path 1 church planting initiative, says the role of church leaders in a culture that is increasingly estranged from the Christian context is much like that of a missionary in a foreign country. Those who have grown up in the church are called upon to learn the language and customs of the people we…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Common Communication Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Ryan Holck, an expert on church communication, says that leaders tend to throw so much information at their congregants that nothing sticks. There’s also a tendency to use insider language while never addressing what people really want to know: “What’s in it for me?” He shares some simple fixes for these common communication challenges. We’ve got great ministry ideas, and…

Leading Ideas
0 The Power of Core Values

Anthony Hunt, pastor of Epworth Chapel in Baltimore, describes how discerning and naming core values can help a church stay focused and on track. Clear core values are essential in implementing mission and vision, setting goals, and evaluating new ministry opportunities. They also help individual church members live out their lives as Christ-followers. As is the case in any organization,…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways to Jumpstart Leadership Formation

Pastor Mike Slaughter says one of the key factors determining the effectiveness of a congregation is the presence of principled leaders who demonstrate a vital personal faith. And, he says, “if you look across your congregation and can’t identify a core group of principled Christian leaders, then you better start growing them!” Slaughter provides six practical ideas for jumpstarting leadership…

Leading Ideas
0 Blessing of the Bikes

Pastor Daniel Kerlin’s Pennsylvania congregation wanted to reach people who wouldn’t normally come to church. They came up with a novel idea — a motorcyclist worship service followed by a “blessing of the bikes” in the church parking lot. “It was a pretty cool sight,” says Kerlin, “to see 80-year-old church ladies across the table from tattooed motorcycle enthusiasts clad in…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Questions to Preserve Energy and Passion in Ministry

Heather Bradley and Miriam Bamberger Grogan are executive coaches with a particular concern for the wellbeing of clergy. They say that spiritual leaders are often held hostage by their own belief that their work never ends, that they have to do it all, and that whatever they do, it isn’t enough. Bradley and Grogan suggest three key questions that can…

Leading Ideas
0 Clergy Age Trends in the United Methodist Church in 2016

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., reports that despite a modest but steady increase in the number of young clergy in the United Methodist Church over the past decade, the percentage of active elders over 55 has reached an all-time high. The Lewis Center’s annual report on clergy age trends also reveals a trend toward delayed retirement and, for the first time…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Church Need a Disaster Ministry Plan?

Jamie D. Aten and David M. Boan, who head the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College, say that you may never have thought about your church’s role in disaster response. But if your doors are open after a disaster strikes, people will come to you for help. The time to plan is now. It can be the difference between calm…

Leading Ideas
0 God and Guns – Do Something!

Amy Butler, pastor of The Riverside Church in New York City, writes that the epidemic of gun violence in America is no longer a matter of opinion or politics; it is a matter of life and death. Because Protestant churchgoers are 40 percent more likely than other Americans to own guns, pastors and church leaders are in a key position…

Leading Ideas
0 Good Leaders Still Face Problems — Just Different Ones

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., writes that effective leaders are never free from problems. In fact, as they make progress, they are likely to confront more complex and consequential problems. So, ironically, facing “higher quality” problems is a marker of success. A governor not known for his intellect was once asked at a press conference about a rash of prisoner escapes from…

Leading Ideas
0 Church Bell Calls Kids to Summer Food and Fun

Pastor Daniel Kerlin’s Pennsylvania church hosts a free summer lunch program. When kids who were on their own or couldn’t tell time were having difficulty showing up on time, they started using their church bell to signal the start of lunchtime. In an era when many church bells stand silent, theirs is inviting a new generation of young people to…

Leading Ideas
0 Volunteer-Savvy Leadership

Jake McGlothin, a staff member at Floris United Methodist Church in Virginia, shares perspectives on recruiting volunteers and keeping them happily engaged in ministry leadership. He explains the importance of the mindset he brings and the vocabulary he uses when asking people to serve. McGlothin says, “I want our ministry leaders to love what they do.” Many church leaders struggle…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Know Themselves

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., discusses the importance of leaders having a mature, self-aware understanding of themselves. He writes that in order to achieve a healthy and accurate knowledge of one’s self, a leader must reach out to actively seek feedback, and then withdraw to reflect on that feedback and use it in self-examination. Leaders can err in two directions. Many begin…

Leading Ideas
0 Reimaging Stewardship Season

Pastor Laura Heikes shares strategies for making stewardship season something people don’t dread, but to which they look forward. “It’s not impossible,” she writes. “Dream a little, try some new things, and don’t be afraid to talk boldly about giving. After all, Jesus did.” Who says stewardship has to drive people away? Last year during our stewardship drive, 14 people joined…

Leading Ideas
0 Five Questions for Discerning Your Annual Giving Theme

John Zehring and Kate Jagger describe five questions that can help you define a theme that can serve as an effective framework for your annual stewardship campaign. A well-chosen campaign theme, they say, can help make your annual focus on giving invigorating and spiritually uplifting. Special offerings to aid individuals or communities in the wake of natural disasters or other…

Leading Ideas
0 What Churches Do Young Adults Attend?

Lovett Weems examines the findings of a new report on engaging young adults and shares clues about the types of churches those ages 18–34 are most likely to attend. Perhaps the most important finding of the research is that the characteristics of churches with thriving young adult engagement are virtually the same factors that contribute to overall vitality and growth…

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