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 9 Indicators that Reveal a Church’s Innovative Potential

Meghan Hatcher says particular characteristics within a church’s organizational culture foster an environment in which innovation thrives. She outlines nine key indicators strongly associated with an organization’s ability to innovate revealed through research by the Innovation Laboratory at the Center for Youth Ministry. Congregations nationwide continue to face unpredictability as we enter a third year of the pandemic. Ministering from…

Leading Ideas
0 The Building Blocks of Congregational Renewal

What does it take to turn a congregation around? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe interviews Ed Brandt, a long-serving pastor who recently retired as chief of chaplains for the U.S. National Guard. Brandt describes how success in ministry is grounded in the hard but essential work of reaching out to the community, forging new connections, getting to know people, listening,…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Shifts for More Authentic Community Engagement

Dan Pezet believes churches can forge meaningful connections with their neighbors through impactful community ministries. But only if the church’s motives are perceived as genuine, not self-serving. He outlines four mindset shifts required of church leaders who seek to engage their community more authentically. For a society that is skeptical of the Christian church, it is a breath of fresh…

Leading Ideas
0 Thinking of Redeveloping Your Church Property? Know First Where You Stand

Rick Reinhard says more and more congregations are looking to rent, sell, or redevelop unused buildings and property. But before launching into the real estate market, churches should take time to understand the value of their property, the key players in their community, and where decision-making authority lies in their congregation or denomination. A struggling house of worship may own…

Leading Ideas
0 The 5 P’s of Sustainability for Small Churches

Rebekah Simon-Peter says small churches cannot succeed by emulating the megachurch model of programming for every stage of life. She believes that five P’s — people, prayer, provision, partnership, and presence — are key to the sustainability of smaller churches. Small churches are the heartbeat of their communities and neighborhoods. The oft-preferred site of weddings and funerals, they offer spiritual…

Leading Ideas
0 Challenge and Opportunity for Predominantly White Churches

The demographic makeup of localities across the U.S. is rapidly diversifying. Some predominantly white congregations perceive this as a challenge or even a threat. But Lovett H. Weems Jr. suggests it can be an opportunity for them to make a positive difference as “hosts for Christ” welcoming newcomers to their communities. Whitney M. Young Jr., a civil rights leader and…

Leading Ideas
0 Leveraging Your Church’s Assets

Your church may have more resources than you think. In an interview with Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff, Jacqueline Jones-Smith explains how Christ Church in St. Petersburg, Florida, once slated for closure, turned itself around by embracing a more entrepreneurial mindset and taking stock of its physical and human assets. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Ann Michel:…

Leading Ideas
0 How Parents Pass Religious Faith to their Children

What determines whether children will carry on the faith of their parents? Past research established that parents play the critical role. Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff interviews noted sociologist Christian Smith about new research examining how parents shape their children’s faith and the critical factor of talking about religion in the context of day-to-day life. Listen to this…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Spiritual Practices for the New Year

Jayne Davis suggests a few spiritual practices that can help anchor you to God and bring joy, meaning, and deep rest in the coming new year. They include gratitude, wonder, sabbath, and asking questions while deepening your relationship with God and others. There is something very empowering about a new year — a clean slate, a fresh start. Whether you…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Principles for Engaging Donors Who Care About Making a Difference

Baby boomers and Gen Xers are currently the most critical donor base for most congregations. James Elrod says these generations want proof that their gifts are making a difference. He outlines four principles for measuring and reporting results. A fundamental challenge for any church is to articulate to its members that their donations are making a difference because the church…

Leading Ideas
0 What to Watch in 2022

F. Douglas Powe Jr. and Ann A. Michel of the Lewis Center staff name some of the changes church leaders should keep top of mind as we embark on 2022. They include still evolving patterns of worship and congregational life, worrying attendance trends, churches reevaluating their building needs, and underlying demographic changes that challenge assumptions many churches hold regarding their…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Organize an Intergenerational Morning of Service for MLK Day

Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff reports on how a Connecticut church has made the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday a time for intergenerational learning and service. She shares tips on how churches large or small might launch a similar effort to educate and inspire young people and connect with the broader community. In 2013 when Maria-Pia Seirup learned…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas Talks” Podcast Episodes of 2021

Leading Ideas Talks provides cutting-edge leadership strategies from many of today’s most relevant thought leaders. These are the most popular episodes of the year. churchleadership.com | Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Spotify | Google Podcasts | YouTube “Imagining a Hybrid Future” featuring Rosario Picardo How can a church develop hybrid ministry that connects both with those in the room and…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Lewis Center Resources of 2021

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. >> FREE 50 Ways to Strengthen Ministry with Youth How can your church help youth claim a vital faith? No question is more critical to the future of the…

Leading Ideas
0 Top “Leading Ideas” Articles of 2021

What Leading Ideas subjects are trending this year with you and our nearly 20,000 subscribers? In addition to pandemic, the most popular articles of 2021 focus on topics including reaching younger people, adapting to change, hybrid worship, diversity, funding and finances, reaching new disciples, small churches, and more. What Will Your Church Look Like Post-COVID-19? Barry Winders says the COVID-19…

Leading Ideas
0 Simple Guidance for Preachers on Christmas Eve

As pastors and congregations prepare to receive guests on Christmas Eve, Bishop Kenneth H. Carter offers simple, heartfelt advice. Keep the sermon brief but grace filled. Appeal to people’s generosity. And make sure those inspired to begin their faith journeys are invited to take the next step. 1. Keep it brief. Err on the side of saying less, rather than…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Things to Avoid and 5 Things to Accent at Your Christmas Eve Service

Barry Howard names some dos and don’ts to help make your Christmas Eve service meaningful and welcoming. A festive and effective Christmas Eve service, he says, can go a long way toward building durable relationships and enhancing community connections. At most of the churches I have served, the annual Christmas Eve service is a treasured gathering in the life of…

Leading Ideas
0 Creating Powerful Worship in Small Congregations

Do you want amazing worship on a small church budget? Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe Jr. interviews Teresa Stewart, a blogger and creator of the website Paper Bag Cathedrals, on ways small congregations can enliven their worship. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Doug Powe: When it comes to worship planning resources, small…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Tips for Hosting A Live Nativity

A live Nativity can be an engaging, heart-warming event not only for church members but for the entire community as well. One Houston-area church has decades of experience bringing the Christmas story to life in this way. Lindsay Peyton shares their organizational and planning tips. The Christmas story literally comes to life every year at Christ Church UMC in The…

Leading Ideas
0 Giving Thanks Faithfully

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says Thanksgiving is an opportunity to refocus our expressions of gratitude. True gratitude is always about the giver and not the gift. Faith invites us to focus less on what we are grateful for and more on the God to whom we owe thanks. Growing up in a nominally religious household, Thanksgiving was…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Approaches to Keeping Small Church Worship and Education Vibrant During the Pandemic

Rebekah Simon-Peter outlines four models small churches have used to survive the pandemic — the church at home model, the shut-in model, the never shut down model, and the hybrid model. She shares tips for how these approaches can keep worship alive and Christian education vibrant in smaller congregations. Small churches are often isolated from each other, so you may…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Dos and Don’ts When Considering the Redevelopment of Church Property

More and more faith communities are asking how they might make better use of expensive and underutilized facilities. Rick Reinhard offers practical advice in the form of seven dos and don’ts to help a congregation approach property redevelopment realistically and faithfully. More and more houses of worship are shuttering their doors. Declining membership, increased internet streaming, and COVID-19 pandemic pressures…

Leading Ideas
0 Clear Vision, Values, and Hope are Essential Leadership Tools

Do the challenges of a global pandemic and extreme polarization seem insurmountable? Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe Jr. interviews Retired Major General Randy Manner on how clear vision and values help in navigating difficult terrain by engendering unity and hope. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Douglas Powe: You’ve worked in a lot…

Leading Ideas
0 Diverse Congregations Are Stronger Congregations

One hopeful trend in Faith Communities Today’s 2020 survey findings is that the percentage of multiracial congregations in the U.S. has doubled over the past two decades, from 12% to 25% of all faith communities. The 2020 FACT Survey Report also reveals that congregational diversity correlates to increased growth, spiritual vitality, and a clearer sense of mission and purpose. Over…

Leading Ideas
0 Starting a Conversation about Mental Health

The local church is often the first place people go for help in addressing mental health challenges. Matthew Stanford sees this as a divine opportunity and suggests ways churches can address the subject of mental illness more openly and honestly. Negative attitudes and beliefs toward people who suffer with mental illness are common. In fact, social stigma is the second…

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