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 Death by Meeting

John Winn finds useful advice for churches and synagogues in the book Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni. The title alone is enough to make you reach for the book. Although it is written for the secular, corporate world, the book relates quite easily to church and synagogue as well as most other groups that are meeting…

Leading Ideas
0 Multicultural Church Offers a Distinctive Gift for Children

A small membership church finds a distinctive gift in offering a multicultural environment for children and learning. I have found an important starting point for ministry is to figure out what your church has to offer for kids, and then play that up.  My current church had no children’s Sunday School when I came as pastor. It was like pulling…

Leading Ideas
0 When Good Practices Are No Longer Good Enough

Lovett H. Weems says the very practices that made an organization strong can keep it from responding to new challenges in the face of “disruptive technologies.” He applies the ideas of author Clayton Christensen to Protestant Mainline churches whose best practices may not fit changing contexts. A friend sent me a book a few years ago. It seemed a strange…

Leading Ideas
0 Ducking Spears, Dancing Madly: A Biblical Model of Church Leadership

Lovett Weems reviews Ducking Spears, Dancing Madly: A Biblical Model of Church Leadership by Lewis A. Parks and Bruce C. Birch. The authors look at Saul, David, and other central Old Testament figures to learn about pastoral leadership. Lew Parks and Bruce Birch have made a marvelous contribution to church leaders as they bring together Bible, theology, and leadership studies for…

Leading Ideas
0 Moving Established Congregations through Change

Tom Berlin of Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia, shares a six-step process for helping a congregation change. 1. Learn the story of the church you serve.   I have found that laity who have been in a church a long time love to talk about the life they have enjoyed there. They feel complimented when you ask them…

Leading Ideas
0 All the Mainline News That’s Fit to Print

The declining influence of mainline denominations is reflected in the that they appear far less frequently in the New York Times than they did eighty years ago. The statistical decline of mainline denominations has been well documented. Less certain is any decline in cultural influence since social impact and numbers are not always synonymous. Online resources make certain types of…

Leading Ideas
0 Opening Up the Small Membership Church

Drawing on Anthony Pappas’s work, Lovett Weems names factors important in helping small churches embrace change and new people. Anthony Pappas is area minister for the Old Colony Association of the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts. He was formerly pastor on Block Island. His book Entering the World of the Small Membership Church (Alban, revised edition 2000) is a fine…

Leading Ideas
0 New Life for a 100-year-old Church

A pastor who went to a 100-year-old church in serious decline tells a story of renewal that came about by focusing on strengths not what’s wrong. Before going to this church eight years ago, I heard tragic stories about the church. Most of the members were dead or dying, I was told, except for the mean ones who are alive…

Leading Ideas
0 Basketball Coaching and Leadership

Douglass Lewis finds five insights on leadership in Phil Jackson’s book about coaching the L.A. Lakers. Last Christmas I received a copy of Phil Jackson’s book, The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul. It is Jackson’s reflections on his last season as coach of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. Though it was not Jackson’s explicit purpose,…

Leading Ideas
0 Successful Planning and Evaluation for Religious Organizations

Lovett Weems reviews Projects that Matter: Successful Planning & Evaluation for Religious Organizations a user-friendly guide by Kathleen Cahalan for religious organizations to use in evaluating projects, goals, activities, and results. Churches, along with many serving institutions, tend to focus more on “what we do” and “how we do it” than on “what we accomplish.” Church leaders can always claim that…

Leading Ideas
0 Demographics and Leadership

Lovett Weems offers the example of the Girl Scouts USA who understood that continued viability depends on adapting to changes in national demographics. A community recently celebrated a citywide religious observance that sought to bring together all the churches of that community. It was an impressive gathering in many ways. However, I was struck that the only persons of color…

Leading Ideas
0 Working with a Volunteer Treasurer

A pastor in her first year at a congregation tells of a lesson learned the hard way in working with a volunteer treasurer. Last fall I discovered that the various money accounts of the church had not been audited for the year. I was going to get everything done and look good when the district superintendent came for the annual…

Leading Ideas
0 Stages in Leadership

Lovett Weems reflects on stages of leadership through the experience of making a difficult journey. A few years ago, I was scheduled to preach on the first Sunday of January in a community about two hours from where I lived. When the day of the service came, I got up very early to begin the trip since the weather was…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Your Congregation to New Life

Lovett Weems reviews You Only Have to Die: Leading Your Congregation to New Life, written by Jim Harnish about a church in Florida that built a vision for its future. Do the following characteristics describe your church? More than seventy-five years old. Clear sense of a rich past. Less clarity about the present. No vision for the future. Deeply committed members.…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership Lessons from Peter F. Drucker (1919-2005)

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., writes about the influence of Peter Drucker. Weems has found that many of Drucker’s ideas apply to pastoral ministry. Peter Drucker, who died in November, was often called the world’s most influential management thinker. Over sixty-six years, he wrote more than three dozen books that have been translated into thirty languages. They shaped the thinking of…

Leading Ideas
0 I Hope They Will Know I Believed in Them

Lovett Weems notes the prevalence of a “we-they” attitude of clergy toward their members while lifting up examples of leaders who affirm laity. One study that examined differences between growing churches and declining churches found that one of the leadership factors found in pastors of churches that lost members was a “negative view of the laity.” This point was on…

Leading Ideas
0 Orchestrating Conflict

A pastor talks about practicing leadership theory learned from reading Leadership on the Line by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, who advocate the role of mediator for the leader. Upon returning home after a week away, I learned that several key leaders in the church were in disagreement with one another. Their disagreement had escalated to a point of…

Leading Ideas
0 Reviving Old St. Patrick’s Church

The revival of Old St. Patrick’s Church Catholic Church in Chicago offers lessons on regaining vitality through missional focus, says Lovett H. Weems, Jr. Jack Wall is a Roman Catholic priest in Chicago. A few years back he was assigned to a church that had been virtually abandoned. It was located in the heart of Chicago with four remaining members.…

Leading Ideas
0 Points of Vulnerability

A leader must always celebrate the strengths and successes of group life, but leaders must also work to define the realities and challenges faced, according to Dr. Marianne E. Inman. Dr. Marianne E. Inman, president of Central Methodist University in Missouri, keeps a list of items that she calls the school’s “Points of Institutional Vulnerability.” The list is quite public…

Leading Ideas
0 Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge

Lovett Weems reviews Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge, the leadership book that Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner wrote in collaboration with religious leaders. For more than twenty years, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner have had a profound impact on the way leaders think about their work. While their research has been primarily in the business world, their work is read and…

Leading Ideas
0 Which Comes First — Belief or Belonging?

Lovett Weems considers Robin Gill’s supposition that people tend to belong to religious communities before coming to belief rather than the other way around. Robin Gill, an English ethicist and theologian, contends that in matters of faith, belonging is primary. A more intellectualized approach to faith tells us that people first believe and then they come to belong. Gill is…

Leading Ideas
0 A Review of Leading Beyond the Walls

Lovett Weems reviews Adam Hamilton’s Leading Beyond the Walls in which the author presents ideas about the Church of the Resurrection, a United Methodist mega-church. Adam Hamilton was my pastor for thirteen years. He is a remarkable pastor and preacher and one of the most gifted leaders in the United Methodist Church today. He has given us in this book…

Leading Ideas
0 Predictors of Youth Returning to Church as Adults

Lovett Weems reviews a study of participation in church by adults who had dropped out of church as youth.  Of all the variables studied, only one was predictive of whether these youth would be active as adults – the extent of their involvement in a youth group. A longitudinal study of youth in the suburbs of Washington, DC, followed youth…

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