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 Why Don’t People Volunteer at Church?

Mike Schreiner and Ken Willard say the key to getting a higher percentage of people involved is understanding the difference between volunteering and Christian service and between recruiting and inviting. They name five best practices for engaging people in meaningful ministry roles. When you talk to pastors and ministry leaders you will likely hear that the 80/20 rule is alive…

Leading Ideas
0 Deal with People

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., says rather than dealing with a problem person head-on, churches will instead try to resolve the difficulty by formulating a policy addressing the situation. But such policies rarely serve the organization well. Nor do they deal with the root of the problem. It’s better instead to deal with the problem person directly. Have you noticed how…

Leading Ideas
0 What are the True Costs of Church Programs?

Are key leaders in your church covering project costs out of their own pockets? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says owning up to the true costs of ministry prevents new leaders from being blindsided and helps the congregation embrace a stewardship model that funds all ministries — not just those supported by particular donors. One of the challenges many congregations…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Faith Community Live out of Memory or Imagination?

Bill Wilson, director of the Center for Healthy Churches, says that while memories of the past are vital, they must be balanced with a creative and innovative vision for the future if your faith community is to remain vibrant and sustainable. Some call it a battle. Others a wrestling match. Let’s go with something a bit less confrontational and call…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Opportunities for the Church in the Current Political Tension

Pastor Carey Nieuwhof believes the church is uniquely positioned to respond to the political tension and division that characterize our age. He discusses four ways Christians can bring hope to the increasingly fragile culture around us. You don’t need to be anything more than a casual observer of American (and Western) culture to know that something significant is happening. The…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Steps to Church Vitality and Turnaround

Baltimore Pastor C. Anthony Hunt outlines a five-part process helpful to churches or non-profits looking to renew their vitality. He shares how this process helped his church reorganize for mission and develop new worship and service initiatives to reach new people. Working as a consultant with new church starts, I became familiar with a visioning process that draws on the…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership and the Small Membership Church

Understanding the unique leadership context of smaller congregations is vital to the future of the church, says Lovett H. Weems, Jr. Leaders of small churches need to be sensitive to their unique history and culture, while also bearing hope for the future. According to the U.S. Congregational Life Survey, the average worship attendance of a U.S. church is 90 persons;…

Leading Ideas
0 A Better Way to Do Stewardship Testimonies

Nate Berneking says testimonies about giving and money are powerful when done well, but disastrous when done poorly. He outlines how an interview approach to testimony can keep things focused and on track. Talking about giving and money through testimonies in church can be powerful. But as a pastor who has frequently attempted them, I can honestly say that they…

Leading Ideas
0 Missional Engagement: It’s All About Relationships

Junius B. Dotson says that church outreach has generally taken the form of community service or evangelistic efforts. But real missional engagement entails the building of authentic, organic, and consistent relationships that lead to intentional discipleship. The term missional engagement stands in deliberate contrast to our traditional understanding of outreach. Let me offer some distinctions. Outreach has traditionally taken two…

Leading Ideas
0 Helping Families Embrace the Importance of a Church Funeral

Sarah Dorrance describes the pastoral challenge of helping surviving family members who do not attend church to understand that a Christian funeral is appropriate for a deceased relative who was an active church member. In this situation, a church funeral honors the faith life of the departed saint and is an outreach to friends and family who may not have…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Clues for Inviting Others to Church Effectively

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says many people just don’t like inviting other people to church, in part because faith is so personal and in part because they fear rejection. He provides four clues for inviting in a way that is genuine, specific, honest, and expectant. Many of us have been in conversations about inviting new people to our congregation…

Leading Ideas
0 The Power of Conversation

Church consultant Bill Owen describes how effective leaders understand the importance of conversation in shaping culture. They learn the subtle art of reframing narratives in healthy and constructive ways. Church people talk. They talk about all kinds of things. They talk about the pastor, her sermon, how many people used to be in worship, and what we ought to be…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Keys to Cultivating an Environment Irresistible to Emerging Generations

Scott Crostek, pastor of Resurrection Downtown in Kansas City, says environments that are safe and welcoming for emerging generations are characterized not only by hospitality and authenticity, but also creativity, openness to holy mystery, and a sense of personal privacy. Irresistible leadership environments are spaces with an atmosphere that facilitates effective emotional, relational, spiritual, and theological connections with God and…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Tips for Effective Preaching on Stewardship

Preaching is a critical component within a broader strategy for stewardship ministry, says church consultant Margaret Marcuson. She provides six tips for more effective preaching on money and stewardship. It takes more than one good sermon to undergird the stewardship ministry of your congregation. Church leaders can put a lot of weight on that sermon or sermon series, but stewardship…

Leading Ideas
0 The Case of a Small Church in an Oversized Building

Lewis A. Parks, author of Small on Purpose, describes how smaller congregations can easily squander their last resources for ministry attempting to keep up with the mounting demands of an aging facility. He says such churches must decide for the people of God rather than their present building, before it’s too late. I came to Calvary United Methodist, Lemoyne, Pennsylvania,…

Leading Ideas
0 Does Your Church Need an Online Campus?

Multisite ministry expert Jim Tomberlin says having an internet campus involves more than just offering a video sermon online. It involves offering a full, virtual experience of church. He anticipates an explosion of internet campuses in the coming years. Called by many names — internet campus, iCampus, cyber church, digital church, virtual church, church in the cloud — an online…

Leading Ideas
0 Expecting the Best of People Can Bring Out Their Best

Lovett Weems shares the story of how a church leader brought around a critic of a new homeless ministry by approaching the individual with a presumption of grace rather than a presumption of judgment. A few years ago, a seminary student in my church leadership class was serving as an intern at an urban congregation. The church had a strong…

Leading Ideas
0 Your Website Probably Needs a Fresh Coat of Paint

Will Rice says church websites become out of date because people in the know stop paying attention. It takes a fresh set of eyes to point out what’s missing and what needs to be refreshed. I visited the website of a large church recently. I was looking for information on a special worship service they were having the next day.…

Leading Ideas
0 Missional Church: More than a Catchphrase

What does it really mean to be a missional church? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says it’s more than a catchphrase for activities aimed at congregational renewal. Congregations that are truly missional are not motivated by their internal institutional imperatives. They make a difference in the lives of others by focusing beyond themselves and offering others a glimpse of what…

Leading Ideas
0 Revitalizing Worship is More than a Question of Style

L. Roger Owens and Donna Claycomb Sokol, authors of New Day in the City, say re-imagining worship to better reach new people involves more than asking if they prefer a traditional, contemporary, or blended style. The starting point must be a clear understanding of the theological purpose of worship. Then, asking how your worship engages your cultural context and your…

Leading Ideas
0 The Qualities of Competent Intercultural Leadership

As multiculturalism takes hold in U.S. churches, there is a greater need for competent intercultural leaders, says Brian Leander of Adelphi University. He says “culturally intelligent” leaders in diversity-oriented churches are highly interested in experiences with other cultures and interactions with people from other cultures. They articulate a vision for diversity and share their vision and values with other leaders.…

Leading Ideas
0 An Annual Meeting as a Celebration of Faithfulness

How can you turn a routine, boring business meeting into something more celebratory and faith-filled? Tom Tumblin describes how the awarding of an annual servant leadership award turned a congregation’s annual meeting into an inspiring reminder of how the hand of God is at work in their faith community. One of my favorite memories from a church where I served…

Leading Ideas
0 Networks and Third Places are Today’s Mission Field

Where is community discovered in our time? In their book Fresh Expressions, Ken Carter and Audrey Warren argue that people today are less likely to be connected through their geographical neighborhood or nearby church. The virtual networks and “third places” where people gather are, therefore, an increasingly significant mission field. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, networks are emerging…

Leading Ideas
0 Staying Attuned to Your Community

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., writes that congregations all start not for themselves, but to serve other people. But with the passage of time, they tend to turn in on themselves and lose their connections to the broader community. Revitalization requires finding deliberate ways to “bring the outside in.” One of the most significant counterintuitive realities about churches is that the…

Leading Ideas
0 Difficult Conversations

Olu Brown, founding pastor of the fast-growing Impact Church in Atlanta, says that difficult conversations just come with the territory if you are a leader. He recommends confronting these situations with honesty, whether the difficult conversation is with yourself, others, or with God. Leadership is filled with a series of difficult conversations! I have tried to avoid difficult conversations and…

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