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 Effective Church Websites

Web designer and consultant Scott Dixon shares tips for designing a good church website. He says three traits are essential — great content, good design, and easy navigation. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked “What makes a good website?” Or, better yet, “What can I do to make my website better?” I’ve learned there are three essential traits…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Things Preachers Should Never Say

Many preachers shoot themselves in the foot when they start off with hackneyed or formulaic phrases that fail to capture the fleeting attention of those in the pew.  Charley Reeb, a Florida pastor known as a gifted preacher, outlines nine opening lines that good preachers avoid. Preaching is challenging. When someone suggested to Winston Churchill that he ought to put…

Leading Ideas
0 How Best to Use Overflow Worship Space on Easter

Tom Berlin describes strategies for encouraging your regular attenders to worship in overflow spaces outside the sanctuary when additional seating is needed on Easter so that visitors will feel welcome and have a quality worship experience. Increased worship attendance on Easter Sunday requires some churches to set up spaces beyond the sanctuary for overflow seating. Sometimes this is space just…

Leading Ideas
0 Blessing Boxes Energize Churches to Meet Needs

The idea of a Blessing Box, shared widely on social media, has inspired many congregations to take direct action to meet community needs. Amy Forbus describes how Blessing Boxes have energized churches in the Arkansas Conference of the UMC to provide for their neighbors in creative, participatory ways. The concept is simple: Stock a container with nonperishable food items, toiletries…

Leading Ideas
0 Keychain Leadership

One core commitment that can help a congregation engage younger people is a willingness to entrust teens and emerging adults with the “keys” to real influence and agency by giving away access, power, and responsibility. The authors of Growing Young call this empowering style of leadership “keychain leadership.” Is leadership style a critical variable in helping a church reach younger…

Leading Ideas
0 The Leader as Communicator

Effective leaders are good communicators, according to Lovett H. Weems, Jr. They understand the importance of all forms of communication and that communication is always two-way, receiving as well as giving information and feelings. One study of leadership analyzed how leaders spend their days, concluding “for formal leaders in organizations … the world consists of many activities (most of them…

Leading Ideas
0 The Mutual Benefits of Church-School Partnerships

Jake McGlothin, author of The Mission-Minded Guide to Church and School Partnerships, says it’s only logical that the two most important social institutions in our society should work together. He outlines what churches can share with schools as well as how engagement with schools can positively impact a congregation. Two of the greatest and most important social institutions in America…

Leading Ideas
0 The Lent Challenge

Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris United Methodist Church, challenges his congregation to deepen their spiritual journey during Lent by taking up the disciplines of worship, study, and scripture reading rather than giving up chocolates or dessert. Lent is a time for going more deeply into Christian discipleship. Church members are often aware that Lent is a season for increased devotion…

Leading Ideas
0 Should You Add Another Easter Worship Service?

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., encourages churches to consider whether adding an additional worship service on Easter Sunday will increase their ability to reach more worshipers. He says an unexpected, positive benefit of modifying your worship schedule is that you need to be more deliberate in sharing information with members and potential visitors. Easter is the special day of the Christian…

Leading Ideas
0 When Volunteers Aren’t Working Out

Churches often put up with ineffective volunteers because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, says Lory Beth Huffman, a pastor in Western North Carolina. She describes how to help volunteers succeed, but also how to remove a dysfunctional volunteer with grace and honesty when necessary for the sake of fruitfulness in God’s Kingdom. One of the hardest dilemmas we…

Leading Ideas
0 Ten Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

Examining the biblical account of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Lovett H. Weems, Jr., sees a compelling example of how a leader should function. Nehemiah defined the reality of the situation, named a vision, and then engaged the people to accomplish it. The prophet Nehemiah provides modern day leaders a wonderful model of leadership. Upon learning of the distress…

Leading Ideas
0 Organizing a Missional COMMUNITY

Hal Knight and Doug Powe discuss nine characteristics of transformative Christian communities that allow them to nurture spiritual growth while also remaining open to others and connected to the broader community. Whether starting a new church or renewing an existing congregation, leaders must be able to organize communities so that their members are growing in spiritual depth while also focusing…

Leading Ideas
0 Four Functions of a Church Choir

Choir director Brian Hehn has helped Arapaho UMC become a “singing congregation” by emphasizing the choir’s four key functions — to lead and enliven the congregation’s song, to sing music that the congregation cannot, to serve as a small-group within the church for faith formation, and to sing music that glorifies God and edifies the congregation. As the director of…

Leading Ideas
0 Lead Positively

Lovett H. Weems Jr., explains why leaders need to affirm the positive and assume the best of others — even when things aren’t what they ultimately need to be. Critique and judgment have their place — but not at the expense of projecting a grace-filled and hopeful attitude toward others. Leaders sometimes are reluctant to affirm good things among those we serve…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Vision a Mural or a To-Do List?

Tiffany Deluccia says that for too many churches, their de facto vision is nothing more than a list of the next things to be done. Instead, your vision should be an inspiring and compelling portrait of what God is doing in the life of your church. When someone asks you about your church’s vision for the next 3-5 years, how…

Leading Ideas
0 The Multiplying Effect of Community Partnerships

Rather than creating new programs that reinvent the wheel, Rosario Picardo says congregations can multiply the impact of their outreach by seeking out the people and organizations in their community already doing God’s work and forging creative partnerships. As churches, we have a tendency to create “new” programs either out of a desire for control or because we simply don’t…

Leading Ideas
0 Two Views of Vision

What kind of vision helps a church finds its way forward? Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says a vision needn’t be grandiose, nor is the process necessarily linear. Drawing on Margaret Wheatley’s “circular” understanding of vision, he explains that visioning can involve a series of small, next-step visions that become a field of energy from which a larger vision emerges. Margaret…

Leading Ideas
0 A Spiritually Inviting Food Pantry

Sue Nilson Kibbey, author of the new book Flood Gates: Holy Momentum for a Fearless Church, describes how a food pantry ministry provided the opportunity for a congregation to develop deepening relationships with the food pantry clients. It started with serving a warm meal and eventually led to the creation of a new community of Christ followers. A church leader…

Leading Ideas
0 Ten Ways to Build the Beloved Community

Baltimore Pastor C. Anthony Hunt lifts up Martin Luther King, Jr.’s powerful vision of the Beloved Community, calling on individuals and churches to continue to promote peace with justice. He provides ten suggestions for heightening our commitment to community building and social engagement. A universal human striving is for authentic community. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was among those who…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Some Ministries Need to Die

Every ministry has a lifespan, according to pastor and author Graham Standish. When a church forces dying ministries to stay alive, it prevents new ministries from being resurrected from the death of the old. A major problem of any struggling church is that it consistently does what it’s always done before, and avoids doing what it’s never done before. Whenever…

Leading Ideas
0 Stewardship Resolutions for the New Year

Stewardship consultant Cesie Delve Scheuermann suggests planning your calendar of stewardship activities for the year. But before you do any asking, she stresses that you need to be deliberate about thanking contributors and telling the story of how their giving is changing lives and making the world a better place. Now that Christmas is over, you have (maybe) a moment…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Lewis Center Resources of 2016

Lewis Center resources guide you in strengthening your personal leadership and renewing your congregation. Following are our most popular free and purchased resources of the year. Save 10% on downloadable and DVD/CD video tool kits and PDF ebooks with coupon code TOP2016 through December 31, 2016. Top Free Resources 50 Ways to Increase Worship Attendance Free to read, share, and…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas” Articles of 2016

What Leading Ideas subjects are trending this year? We have assembled this list to give you another opportunity to glean insight and inspiration from the authors and articles most popular with our nearly 18,000 subscribers. 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…

Leading Ideas
0 Room at the Inn

Doug Ruffle, who once served as a missionary in Argentina, shares the heartwarming story of a Christmas pageant that went off script, yet captured the true meaning of Christmas. It invites us to make room for the Christ Child in our lives. As a missionary in Argentina, I served Peace Community Church in Rosaria. It was an intimate community of…

Leading Ideas
0 A Birthday Party for Jesus

Margie Briggs, pastor of two small churches in Missouri, describes how the annual tradition of hosting a “birthday party for Jesus” has attracted children and families from their community into the church, helping to bring new vitality to an aging congregation. A few years ago, our small rural church in Calhoun, Missouri, wanted to do something at Christmas time for…

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