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 Churches Face Changing Demographics

The American Community Survey provides an ongoing demographic portrait of the country and is the largest survey that the Census Bureau administers other than the decennial census. The latest data come from the 2008 nationwide survey and form the basis for the State of Metropolitan America report recently issued by the Brookings Institution. The share of U.S. households that are…

Leading Ideas
0 The Promise and Peril of Conflict

A compelling example of leaders turning conflict into opportunity for structural and cultural change is found in the first seven verses of Acts 6. The idyllic description of the first Christian community (Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37) is soon marred by incidents of deception (Acts 5:1-11) and internal conflicts (Acts 6:1-7). While the sudden deaths of Ananias and Sapphira —…

Leading Ideas
0 Promise and Peril: Understanding and Managing Change and Conflict in Congregations

In Promise and Peril (Alban, 2009), David Brubaker tackles the conundrum churches face: Change usually leads to conflict, but change is required to make progress. Drawing upon research with congregations over five years, Brubaker found that about 10 percent of churches each year face conflict serious enough that a special meeting has to be called to address the matter or…

Leading Ideas
0 Should a Church Staff Member Report to a Committee?

When board- and committee-centered congregations engage paid staff, they sometimes struggle to find language to describe how staff members should relate to one another and to the rest of the organization. Especially if the staff person leads a program area like education, music, or youth work, which is “owned” by a committee, it seems natural that the committee should hire,…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Stay Young

What are the qualities of a good leader? Fortunately, Jesus defined leadership: A dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them…But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the…

Leading Ideas
0 Addressing Diversity in Congregations

According to the measuring tools used by Natural Church Development, my church — New Hope Church in Maryland — falls in the top 5 percent of all U.S. congregations for diversity. We have been able to embrace our differences without calling undue attention to our diversity. At the same time, commonality is found across a range of factors (e.g., preferred…

Leading Ideas
0 Mutual Mentoring

In a traditional mentoring relationship, an older, wiser colleague provides wisdom, counsel, and advice to a younger, less-skilled aspirant. Today, however, the notion of reverse mentoring is gaining traction as a way for established leaders to stay attuned to contemporary cultural trends. Few things could be more needed in the church today, given the importance of connecting with younger generations.…

Leading Ideas
0 Meeting the Spiritual Needs of a Changing Community

Are there times when it feels as if your church resides on a different planet than it once did? The street signs are the same. The trees have been there for ages. The sun rises in the morning and the moon at night. But, somehow, everything else feels unfamiliar. Our communities can feel like different planets because of shifts in…

Leading Ideas
0 Focusing Your Congregational Communication

How do your church members get information? Is everything communicated through the bulletin or announcements at church? Or do you communicate with your congregation through email, blogs, phone trees, snail mail, etc.? During a recent leadership retreat, the New Hope church team performed an informal audit of our congregational communication. We discovered that we were using over twenty-seven modes of…

Leading Ideas
0 New Findings about American Congregations

Building on previous reports from 2000 and 2005, the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership based at Hartford Seminary has released a new research report on congregational life in the United States. Based on a 2008 national survey of churches and other religious communities, the report covers worship, conflict, leadership, vitality, attendance, finances, and other challenges. The findings are based on responses…

Leading Ideas
0 Christ-like Leadership for a Post-Modern World

Many of us carry around a model of leadership that grows out of our childhood and is modeled on our parents. Parents have all the answers — at least for a while. They are big and powerful, can solve any problem, and provide us with everything we need. In adulthood, we find plenty of leaders who promise these same things.…

Leading Ideas
0 A Better Script for Small Churches

I have served as pastor of small, mid-size, and large churches. And some of them grew, especially the larger ones. Large churches that grow larger are exciting to serve and provide great stories of success. But 75 percent of churches in the United States and 95 percent in some countries are small and don’t grow rapidly if at all. So…

Leading Ideas
0 What Report is First on Your Church Council Agenda?

When I started out in ministry nearly 35 years ago, I wandered into my first church board meeting with wide eyes and my mouth firmly shut. I did not know much about running a church business meeting. I watched as the chair called for the first report. It was the report from the Finance Committee. The finance chair handed out…

Leading Ideas
0 The Four Stages of a Pastoral Transition

A time of transition for a pastor can be both exciting and terrifying. The possibility of a new start with its challenges and opportunities brings anticipation. Yet leaving the known for the unknown also brings anxiety. Such transition is more complex than may be immediately apparent. As pastors are dealing with both personal and professional transitions, there are also congregations…

Leading Ideas
0 How Full is Your Menu?

Occasionally I like to visit a local Mexican restaurant. As I scan the menu, I search for items I’ve never tasted. However, I often feel a little overwhelmed by the menu that gives me pages and pages of options. Don’t get me wrong; I love variety. I love the adventure of trying new foods, but even I feel overwhelmed by…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Make the Most of your Church Newsletter

Even in this day of instantaneous communications, the church newsletter is still an important part of a congregation’s overall communication strategy. Why? Because it is one mode of communication that regularly reaches 100 percent of members, including inactive members and infrequent worshipers. A carefully crafted newsletter can build community, reinforce connections, and encourage participation among those not often present at…

Leading Ideas
0 Getting Your Congregation’s Story Right

Congregations, particularly mainline and established congregations, commonly tell either safe or weak stories about themselves. In an earlier era, when identity and purpose were clearer for many congregations, stories could be bold and have the strength of pride: “We are the Methodist church in town.” “Our Unitarian church was founded by descendents of original Pilgrim families and has always been…

Leading Ideas
0 Two Myths Relevant to Reaching Younger and More Diverse People

Each Sunday The Washington Post has a feature in the opinion section dealing with common myths about a particular topic. Noted demographer William H. Frey wrote about myths related to the current census (“Five Myths about the 2010 Census and the U.S. Population,” February 14, 2010). Two of the myths he addressed speak directly to the imperative many churches are…

Leading Ideas
0 What’s Your Leadership Game?

Someone asked me recently if I preferred to play chess or tic-tac-toe? “Actually I’m not a big fan of either game,” I responded, “but if I had to choose, I would pick chess.” My friend wanted to know why. “Because it is more challenging, evokes more creative energy, and engages higher level thinking skills,” was my answer. Good leaders develop…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Need Holy Friendships

Many think of a leader as the lone figure who walks in front of the crowd. A far more healthy view would ask how a leader experiences the community of friendship. In friendship, true friendship, we experience true grace. Our true friends are ones we have allowed to know us. We have granted them the honor of transparency and truthfulness.…

Leading Ideas
0 Reasons Why People Give

In our U.S. Congregational Life Survey, worshipers rated the extent to which ten factors influence their decision to give to their congregation.  The most important is gratitude. About half said they give to the congregation because they feel a sense of gratitude for God’s love and goodness. (49% said this is a major influence on giving decisions.) More than one…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Learn the Art of Making Announcements

Making announcements? Whether it’s at your service, meeting, or event, there are things you should know about people if you want them to hear what you’re saying. This list may not make your job easier, but I guarantee it can help make you more effective. Prepare your announcement  by answering these questions: What is so special about this opportunity? Why…

Leading Ideas
0 Can We Learn from Toyota?

My Wesley faculty colleague Jessicah Duckworth called my attention to a National Public Radio story about the mistakes that led to the recall crisis Toyota is now facing. After listening to the “Morning Edition” segment on the web, I agreed with Jessicah that there was a lesson here for church leaders. Renewal does not come in the church by forgetting…

Leading Ideas
0 Credibility Essential for Leadership

Credibility is the foundation upon which all effective leadership builds. It is the “operating capital” from which leaders draw to advance the vision. There are different types of credibility. Prevenient Credibility Those from a Wesleyan theological tradition are likely to be familiar with John Wesley’s use of the concept of “prevenient grace,” by which Wesley referred to that basic love…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Steps Your Congregation Should Take in Response to the Coronavirus

Please view current information at https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/resources-for-church-leaders-about-the-covid-19-pandemic/ Tom Pruski outlines six steps congregations should take in response to the coronavirus in keeping with guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control. Pruski, a registered nurse, is director of Wesley Theological Seminary’s Heal the Sick…

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