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 Leading in an Age of Political Polarization

David Brubaker says leaders need different skills in this age when deep political divisions affect our families, congregations, and communities. It requires clarity, compassion, courage, and connection. Leading in a polarized environment requires a very different set of skills. While thoughtful leaders normally want to plan a process, form a team, and work for consensus, patience with process and finding…

Leading Ideas
0 Why the Church’s Mission Really Matters in this Time of Crisis

Anthony Hunt says crisis reveals the strength of the church’s ministries of connection and message of hope. Even with changing patterns of interaction, we need ministries of prayer, community support, and missional engagement more than ever. The circumstances presented by the COVID-19 crisis have presented churches and leaders with unprecedented opportunities and challenges. They have had to discover new ways…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Reopening a Church is Different

Alex Shanks says the question of whether to reopen is different for a church than for other institutions. Rather than just reacting to what others are doing, churches need to model responsible decision making and exceed basic health guidelines to protect the most vulnerable. Everywhere we turn, people are talking about reopening. Should churches simply follow the same guidelines regarding…

Leading Ideas
0 Finding Our New Normal

This season of change calls for a new leadership stance. Susan Beaumont outlines five practices that can help you lead more effectively as you discover the new normal for your congregation. We are in a liminal season, stuck between an ending and a new beginning. The pathway forward is not knowable. The way we “did church” even two months ago…

Leading Ideas
0 Effective Pastoral Transitions in the Time of COVID-19

How can a pastor moving from one congregation to the next make a successful transition given the unusual circumstances of the COVID-19 crisis? Lovett H. Weems Jr. says the challenges of the day demand creativity and flexibility. But it is also more important than ever to follow normal best practices for making a right start. The challenging circumstances of the…

Leading Ideas
0 Communicating in a Crisis

Church consultant Mike Bonem says leaders need to step up their communication in this season of anxiety and uncertainty. It is important to be transparent, hopeful, and focused on the mission. Communication is one of a leader’s most important responsibilities and most powerful tools. Even though effective communication is known to be vital, it is frequently overlooked or poorly executed.…

Leading Ideas
0 Get Ready for the New Normal

As restrictions on gatherings imposed by the COVID-19 crisis begin to ease, congregations are likely to find themselves in a both/and reality. They will need to sustain an enhanced digital presence while at the same time resume normal patterns of gathering. Now is the time to strategize and put teams in place to support the challenges and opportunities of this…

Leading Ideas
0 Key Questions to Consider Before Resuming In-Person Gatherings

Many congregations are eager to reopen their buildings and resume in-person worship services, but it’s important to resist the temptation to rush back before it’s safe. The Lewis Center staff has assembled this list of key questions to consider before a church can safely resume gathering. With many states and jurisdictions beginning to ease COVID-19 restrictions, churches need to assess…

Leading Ideas
0 When You Don’t Know Who’s Worshiping

Lee Roorda Schott says that unseen people you don’t yet know are likely worshiping with you online. She says this is an opportunity to enlarge our communities and offers strategies to help these digital newcomers feel included and welcomed. You used to know who was in the worship services you were leading or attending. You could look around and you…

Leading Ideas
0 11 Provocative Thoughts and Questions About What’s Next

Bill Wilson shares 11 provocative thoughts and questions regarding how the future of the church will be shaped by the implications of the cornonavirus pandemic. He says this crisis catapulted the church forward and we cannot ignore the lessons learned. What’s on the horizon for congregations and parishes as we transition from the crisis of the moment to the long-term…

Leading Ideas
0 Digital Church Is Here to Stay

Carey Nieuwhof says the post-COVID-19 world will be a different place. The move to digital worship is here to stay, he predicts. Putting it back on the shelf in the new normal would ignore the greatest opportunity the church today has to reach people. By now you’ve realized that the COVID-19 pandemic is not an interruption nearly as much as…

Leading Ideas
0 How Should Leaders Respond to an External Shock?

Leaders need to focus on core mission and values in the face of a powerful external shock says Meredith McNabb of the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. Addressing this crisis with integrity, confidence, and hope requires knowing your congregation and its purpose. COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, has upended the lives of congregations’ members, overturned patterns of life…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Congregation a Swamp, a Reservoir, or a Canal?

Is your congregation cut off and inwardly focused? Primarily a storehouse of resources? Or a connector that brings things together? The images of swamp, reservoir, and canal can reveal the challenges and opportunities impacting your church’s vitality says F. Douglas Powe, Jr., Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, and James C. Logan, Chair of Evangelism (an E. Stanley…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways to Keep Revenue and Donations Flowing During the COVID-19 Crisis

Stewardship expert Rob Blezard outlines steps your church can take to address the financial challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis. Key strategies include staying in communication with donors, including an offering time in online worship, and considering the CARES relief program. Your congregation may have curtailed in-person services and activities because of the coronavirus, but there’s no stopping your congregation’s…

Leading Ideas
0 Becoming a Church Without Walls

Andrew Ponder Williams says that these trying times provide an opportunity to advance a new way of being church. He offers ideas on how digital connections can help us reach people not previously connected to our congregations. For my whole life, I have dreamed about a church without walls. Well here we are! Most churches sadly cannot meet within their…

Leading Ideas
0 Resurrection Hope and the Response to COVID-19

Resurrection involves transformation, and to proclaim resurrection hope is to affirm the possibility of change. Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff sees resurrection hope in the willingness of so many churches to embrace new and innovative approaches to ministry in this time of uncertainty and travail. Our Lenten journey this year has been dominated by fear and anxiety, disruption…

Leading Ideas
0 Choosing Joy in the Face of Disruption and Loss

We can choose to dwell on the loss and change COVID-19 has brought to our lives, or we can shift our focus and choose joy. American University’s Bryan Champion says during this time of isolation we have received the precious gift of time to spend with those most dear to us, advance goals, and improve our own leadership. I know…

Leading Ideas
0 Preaching to an Empty Room

How can preachers maintain a sense of presence and engage their audience when COVID-19 has their congregants viewing worship via livestream? Read these tips on preaching to an empty room by Alyce McKenzie, Le Van Professor of Preaching and Worship, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director of the Center for Preaching Excellence at Perkins School of Theology. Our current situation…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Thoughts on Leading Through the COVID-19 Crisis

Alex Shanks says that people pay particular attention to what leaders say and do in times of crisis. He shares ten lessons to help leaders be more deliberate in how they chose to lead in the face of the unprecedented challenges of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. The unfolding COVID-19 crisis presents unprecedented challenges for virtually every sector of our society.…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading the Church in the Face of Coronavirus

How can the church provide timely and proactive leadership when there is no tried and true template? Bill Owen, a consultant and coach with the Center for Healthy Congregations, lists best practices, but more importantly stresses the importance of leaning in toward the challenge and into your values as the Body of Christ. There’s no denying the stress in recent…

Leading Ideas
0 Staying Connected in a Time of Social Distancing

How can congregations sustain a sense of community and care for one another when most gatherings have been suspended? Some simple strategies can be used to stay in touch with those who are isolated and maintain an ongoing spiritual presence says F. Douglas Powe Jr., Director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, and James C. Logan, Chair of Evangelism…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ideas for Church Financial Leaders Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

Ken Sloane of Discipleship Ministries shares ten ideas for church financial leaders to help sustain the church and its ministries in the face of interruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Numerous good resources are available for churches about how to prepare for the reality of the spreading COVID-19 virus. The following list of ideas is specifically directed to financial leaders…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Leadership Practices that Enhance Involvement and Collaboration

Are you leading in a way that inspires, invites, and engages others? Katie Carson Phillips outlines six basic leadership practices that support greater collaboration and more meaningful engagement. Does your church suffer from a lack of committed involvement? Your committees may be full. People may show up. But they lack passion, investment, and a willingness to act. It’s tempting to…

Leading Ideas
0 Resources for Church Leaders about the COVID-19 Pandemic

Information about COVID-19 is changing seemingly by the hour. Tom Pruski, a registered nurse and director of Wesley Theological Seminary’s Heal the Sick Initiative, urges church leaders to stay current with the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Also, we’re sharing a lot of great information on Facebook and…

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