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 Ways to Improve Attendance of Current Members

At least once or twice each year, perhaps in the New Year’s resolution season, teach and preach the importance of faithful worship attendance. Invite church members to make a written commitment to grow one step toward faithful attendance. Include a commitment to faithful worship attendance as part of a holistic annual stewardship commitment. Keep a record of attendance and monitor…

Leading Ideas
0 Planning for Attendance Seasons in the Church Year

We are used to thinking of the seasons of the Christian year such as Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent. There are also attendance seasons that follow common patterns across congregations. It is important to understand these in order to plan for them and maximize their potential for reaching more persons through worship. Staying attentive to the seasons of the year as…

Leading Ideas
0 Parking Lot Hospitality

Most churches give attention to welcoming newcomers to church once they reach the church doors. Often they will be welcomed by both greeters and ushers. An information booth is now common in many churches. “But the impression has already been made before visitors enter the building,” according to leaders at Impact Church in Atlanta, which gives external hospitality a high…

Leading Ideas
0 Rewarding Leadership

How do congregations celebrate persons who point toward the achievement of the congregation’s mission? And how do these celebrations occur consistently and frequently, rather than as standard “lifetime achievement” awards? One of our most important tasks as leaders is to find ways to reward leadership that points us in the right direction and adds momentum to our mission and purpose…

Leading Ideas
0 Tell Me About a Time

As I sat tapping on my computer keyboard in a Midwestern Starbucks, an unexpected event unfolded nearby. A manager sporting a green apron sat down at a table with a young man who turned out to be a prospective employee. The purpose of their meeting was a job interview — Starbucks style. If I really live the values I profess,…

Leading Ideas
0 Do Our Assumptions Still Fit?

Peter Drucker maintains that organizational problems are not the result of groups doing things poorly or even doing the wrong things. Organizations fail, he contends, because the assumptions on which the organization was built, and on which it is being run, no longer fit reality. Could our congregations be taking for granted some things that were safe assumptions in the…

Leading Ideas
0 Key Questions When Starting a Live Stream of Worship Online

In North America, many denominations have declined in worship attendance and membership for decades. Some churches have closed; others have fewer people attending. Over these same decades, however, internet usage has exploded. Since 1990 the internet has grown by 100 percent every year. This opens the possibility of using a live video stream to invite new people to worship and…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Church the Best Place to Give?

The other day I was visiting with a key donor of a church along with the pastor. The pastor was asking the donor if she would be willing to serve in a very significant capacity in an upcoming campaign for their church. I fully expected the woman to say yes. She was an elected leader in the church and was…

Leading Ideas
0 Saving Money without Sacrificing Ministry

In light of the current economic environment, how are churches reining in their budgets without reducing the quality of ministry? Last month, the Lewis Center asked Update readers to respond to that question. Most of those responding indicated the size of their congregations, and their responses tended to follow patterns related to church size categories. Some of the most common…

Leading Ideas
0 Becoming a Tribe of Remembering Encouragers

Just as the congregation of Israel was composed of twelve tribes, today’s churches have different voices that are heard in their communities of faith. Transformational pastoral leaders understand the importance of each tribe. Leading into a future that is different than the past, they understand that these voices, or tribes, need to be heard since they may either give permission…

Leading Ideas
0 Where Would Jesus Shop?

I was intrigued recently to read of conversations going in the Church of England. Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading, received considerable media attention when he said that the Anglican church must shed its “Marks & Spencer” middle class image to attract the “Asda and Aldi” generation of worshipers. In the U.S. context, one can fairly easily substitute for these names…

Leading Ideas
0 Keeping Campus Ministry Graduates Connected to Church

For many students, campus ministry becomes a community of friends, a home away from home, a kind of extended family. It is a body of believers with whom students grow and play, worship and serve. It is a community of faith that becomes church for students because it is more than a place, more than an activity, more than an…

Leading Ideas
0 Reintroducing the Language of Sacrifice

I have never been an enthusiastic fan of the word “sacrifice” because so few church members in this culture understand or appreciate the term or its implications. In the early 1990s, a consultant in a capital funds campaign urged the use of the slogan, “Not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice.” While I understood the intent, I resisted the highly visible…

Leading Ideas
0 Affirming and Improving Clergy Effectiveness

Clergy effectiveness is on the mind of virtually every denominational leader today. Indeed, many judicatories have initiatives underway to define, assess, and improve clergy effectiveness. Effectiveness is not a new issue, but it certainly has an intensity about it today that is different from some times in the past. Good pastors can become better leaders if they have a way…

Leading Ideas
0 New Tool to Help Clergy Get Feedback

The Lewis Center has worked with hundreds of clergy, and we know that clergy want to improve. But often they do not feel they have the necessary information or tools. Many understand that the challenges of the church and the world have changed since they finished seminary, but they do not always get the most helpful feedback in order to…

Leading Ideas
0 Discerning Clues for the Future

What do leaders do? Pastors are leaders, and one of the important tasks of leaders is discerning clues for the future to which God is calling our congregations. Leaders look for clues that help define reality and identify God’s vision. A pastoral leader helps the church come to an honest and truthful realization of the congregation’s situation, while at the…

Leading Ideas
0 Spiritual Hardening of the Arteries

“Where your treasure is so will your heart be also,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:21. We live in a country and culture where heart disease is prevalent. We are all aware of the tremendous toll it takes on the physical wellbeing of individuals, often leading to death. Spiritual heart disease is just as common. And as Jesus suggested, the…

Leading Ideas
0 The Importance of Clergy Mentoring

The early years of ministry are often beset with predictable anxieties and questions. Even with the best of seminary training, new pastors quickly discover that their formal education did not prepare them fully for the challenges and responsibilities they encounter in the practice of ministry. It is not hard to appreciate why a wise and trusted mentor can be a…

Leading Ideas
0 Making Your Church Kid and Family Friendly

The start of the school year is a great time to roll out the welcome mat for families and children. The following tips come from the Lewis Center’s 50 Ways to Strengthen Ministry with Children. This is part of the 50 Ways series of ten lists, which can be found at churchleadership.com/50Ways. Make your space child friendly. Nursery and classrooms should…

Leading Ideas
0 Clergy Mentor Resources Available

Research and experience both point to the importance of clergy mentoring, particularly in helping those in the early years of ministry. But clergy mentors indicate overwhelmingly that they need more training for their task. And while mentees value the mentoring they receive, they also indicate that their mentors need more resourcing for this important responsibility. Research and experience both point…

Leading Ideas
0 What to Expect from a Coach

1. Coaching is not counseling or consulting. There is a time for counseling about life issues you are facing. There is also a time for specific consulting help. Coaching is different but complementary with the other two. Coaching is focused on possibilities you have and is not dependent on the coach’s wisdom and experience. The coach seeks to bring forth…

Leading Ideas
0 The Coach Approach to Ministry

A seismic shift is coming in the way pastors lead congregations — toward a way of leading that is highly relational, deeply intentional, and always contextual. It is called the “coach approach” to ministry. Increasingly, effective pastors will draw on the skills of professional life coaching in working with lay persons in their congregations. A coach is someone who helps…

Leading Ideas
0 Moving Beyond Geographic Boundaries

Where is your church called to serve? Many churches think of their outreach area in limited geographical terms. By this measure, the growth potential in First Sedalia United Methodist Church (UMC) might not seem promising. Sedalia, Missouri, a town of 21,000, has been the same size for nearly 50 years. It is stable but not growing. Established by a circuit…

Leading Ideas
0 What You Told Us About Your Summer Worship

Last month, the Lewis Center administered a survey about whether and in what ways churches change worship practices during the summer. While this was not a scientific survey, the responses do give some clues for church leaders. Some initial observations from the first 132 churches responding are: Forty-five percent report making changes, with 55 percent not doing so. Among those…

Leading Ideas
0 Know Your Purpose

When Rabbi Noah, Rabbi Mordecai’s son, assumed the succession after his father’s death, his disciples noticed that there were a number of ways in which he conducted himself differently than his father, and asked him about this. “I do just as my father did,” Rabbi Noah replied. “He did not imitate, and I do not imitate.” (Kurtz and Ketcham, The…

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