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 10 Ways to Make Your Church More Inclusive

How can a church community move beyond conversations and aspirations to practice true inclusion in their daily life and ministry? Brandan Robertson shares ten key strategies and principles that can help your church truly embody the gospel’s call of radical inclusivity.   Many communities and individuals desire to embrace the gospel’s call to become truly inclusive, but often that desire never…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Faithful Innovation: An In-depth Interview with Dwight Zscheile

What if congregational change didn’t focus on setting goals or planning new programs? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff interviews Dwight Zscheile, coauthor of Leading Faithful Innovation. He shares a simple three-step process for experimenting with new practices that allow you to discover what God is already doing in the lives of your neighbors and to find ways to…

Leading Ideas
0 What to Do When the Wrong Person is in a Key Staff Position

Many churches are rethinking their staffing needs. Susan Beaumont says designing the new staffing structure is easier than making the needed personnel changes to enact the plan. She outlines ways that congregations can implement a proactive transition plan that will help realize their objectives more quickly and can be kinder in the long run to everyone involved. What is the…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Functions of a Church Choir

Brian Hehn says a church can have a vital music ministry if its choir focuses on four key functions — leading and enlivening congregational singing, singing music that the congregation cannot, serving as a small group within the church for faith formation, and singing music that glorifies God and edifies the congregation. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Characteristics of Good Discipling Relationships

Phil Maynard and Eddie Pipkin say education-based approaches to spiritual formation often fail to form disciples committed to Christlike living. They suggest doing what Jesus did — focusing intentionally on spiritual growth and development within a context of relationality and accountability.  Despite the significant investment of time, financial resources, and amazing educational options over the past few decades, research indicates…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Principles for Pastoring a Vibrant Older Congregation

Karl Vaters highlights the importance of building a strong, vibrant congregation of seniors with intentionality, training, and a focus on the future. He emphasizes the potential impact seniors can make in the ministries of the church and the need to be intentional about engaging seniors in the life of the congregation. Everyone in church leadership seems to be talking about…

Leading Ideas
0 The Power of Holy Friendships: An In-Depth Interview with Victoria White

How can holy friendships sustain pastors and church leaders? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff speaks with Victoria White about her book Holy Friendships: Nurturing Relationships That Sustain Pastors and Church Leaders. Learn how to strengthen relationships into holy friendships and how to create opportunities for people to cultivate holy friendships.   Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Topics: Enhancing your Church’s Hospitality and Welcome

Extending genuine hospitality to newcomers isn’t just good manners or a good membership recruitment strategy. It embodies the Gospel and expresses Christ’s love for all. And yet too many congregations overlook this critical need. Or they welcome people in ways that are off-putting or ineffective. In this eighth Special 20th Anniversary Edition of Leading Ideas we share some of our…

Leading Ideas
0 Updated Report on United Methodist Disaffiliating Churches

The Lewis Center has issued an updated report on the characteristics of churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church that covers more than 6,100 churches approved for disaffiliation through June 2023. There continue to be more similarities than differences between the cohort of disaffiliating churches and the total pool of United Methodist churches. But disaffiliating churches are disproportionately in the…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Practices for Fruitful Congregations in a Post-Attractional Era

Robert Schnase’s five key practices — radical hospitality, passionate worship, intentional faith development, risk-taking mission and service, and extravagant generosity — have helped thousands of congregations be more fruitful in ministry. In 2018, Schnase reframed these key practices to move beyond attractional assumptions and address the more challenging realities churches face today. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are…

Leading Ideas
0 Creating a Safe Space for Holy Work with Children

Tanya Campen describes how practicing respect, preparation, and presence create safe spaces where children are valued and respected. She highlights the importance of preparing ourselves and safe spaces so that we can be fully present as children claim and respond to God’s presence in their lives. In our work as leaders in ministry with children, we demonstrate a different and…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways Your Church Can Use Text Messaging to Reach More People

How can churches use texting as an outreach and communication tool? Brandon Cox outlines five ways churches can use texting to reach more people and make more disciples. Fifty-nine percent of millennials who grew up in church have dropped out. Why? That’s a huge can of worms. There are plenty of theories — some based on data and others based…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Be Authentic in Public Ministry: An In-Depth Interview with Sarah Bereza

How can professional Christians be their authentic selves when in the spotlight of public ministry? Jessica Anschutz speaks with Sarah Bereza, church musician and author, about the challenges of being authentic, knowing how much to share, and how to avoid oversharing when in a public ministry role.  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Jessica…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Tips for Building Genuine Connections with Your Neighbors

Kay Kotan says we can no longer wait for people to come to church. The church must go out into the community and meet its neighbors. She provides ten easy strategies for your church to build genuine connections with your neighbors. What church doesn’t want to form new relationships with their neighbors, right? Desire is not the issue! More often…

Leading Ideas
0 Before You Rent Church Space, Calculate the Costs

Churches often struggle to determine a fair price when they rent space to community groups. Partners for Sacred Places, an organization helping congregations develop creative community partnerships, says the hard costs of maintaining any shared space is an objective factor that must be considered in determining the rental value. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Key Questions to Shift Pastoral Counseling Encounters from Reflection Toward Action 

Alan T. Baker identifies eight questions that help shift pastoral counseling encounters from reflection toward action. While written for use by chaplains, these questions can be used and adapted by pastors to help gain clarity and identify expectations while simultaneously building trust and confidence in pastoral counseling.    1. Why are you telling me this? Why is it important for you…

Leading Ideas
0 What to do When a New Church Comes to Town

Pastor Eric Daniel describes how he overcame feelings of jealousy and competitiveness when committed members of his congregation started drifting to a new, better-resourced church. He built a relationship with the new pastor, concentrated on the strengths of his own church, and kept inviting new people to the worship table.   About eight years into being a lead pastor, a…

Leading Ideas
0 The Changing Contours of Youth Ministry: An In-Depth Interview with Deech Kirk

What new approaches to youth ministry are emerging in our post-Covid era? Ann Michel interviews Deech Kirk of the Center for Youth Ministry Training. He describes some of the common challenges confronting youth ministry today and some of the characteristics of the newer, innovative ministry models that are taking shape. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Steps for Developing a Digital Community Strategy

Deanna Bartalini and Claudia McIvor say gathering people virtually is not that different than gathering in person. Both require intentionality, as well as a plan, a place or platform to help execute the plan, advertising, and engaging with the people who gather. They outline four key steps in developing a digital community strategy. Technology is a means to an end.…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways Preaching Can Boost Worship Attendance

Popular preacher and author Charley Reeb shares four preaching strategies to grow your church, all based on the notion that we have to connect with people’s interests and meet them where they are. To celebrate the Lewis Center’s anniversary, we are highlighting Leading Articles — some of our most popular posts of the past 20 years. We are pleased to…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tips for Experimenting with Change This Summer

Lewis Center Director F. Douglas Powe says that the summer is the perfect time for a congregation to test possible changes through short-term experiments. He offers four considerations to guide an experimental approach to implementing new ideas. This article by F. Douglas Powe Jr. was originally published on July 18, 2018. We are pleased to share these practical strategies again. An…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ideas for Making Vacation Bible School an Evangelism Opportunity

How can you deepen your relationship with the children and families participating in a Vacation Bible School and stay connected with them throughout the year? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe outlines strategies to make your Vacation Bible School a meaningful and effective evangelism opportunity. This article by F. Douglas Powe Jr. was originally published on June 13, 2018. We are…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Key Skills for Leading in Today’s Argumentative Climate

Joel Snider says church leaders need new skills to move people toward common goals in a time when conflict surrounds so many church decisions. Rather than leading by force, he suggests building consensus one person at a time, probing ideas through questions rather than criticism, and responding respectfully to the ideas of others. Leadership comes hard these days. Everyone wants…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Tips for Sharing Your Congregation’s Story on Social Media 

How do you effectively share your congregation’s story via social media to reach new people? Tim Welch offers seven tips for sharing your congregation’s story on various social media platforms.  One of the best forms of communicating with church members is through digital platforms. Most of your congregation has immediate access to web-based content or smartphone apps. This makes spreading…

Leading Ideas
0 The Hidden Impact of Rural Churches: An In-Depth Interview with Bob Jaeger and Rachel Hildebrand

What is the economic impact of small congregations on their communities? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff speaks with Bob Jaeger and Rachel Hildebrandt of Partners for Sacred Places about their report on the “Economic Halo Effect of Rural United Methodist Churches in North Carolina.”  Listen to this interview, watch the interview video on YouTube, or continue reading. Jessica Anschutz:…

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