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 A Pastor Describes Her First Day in a New Community

Having attended a workshop on transitioning into a new appointment, I kept remembering the stress put on the importance of your “first official day.” “You only have one first day,” the workshop leader had said. “Use it well.” I am your new pastor, and I wanted to call you on my first official day. I am honored to be your…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Tips for Handling Criticism in Ministry

Dealing with criticism and complaints is an issue in almost every area of ministry. Church leaders have had to deal with complaints from the beginning. (See II Corinthians for Paul’s experience. It is nothing new!) Defensive leaders can rarely lead creatively and positively. While we can all get hooked emotionally by criticism, an important leadership skill is getting off that…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership from Inside Out

Ever since I read Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s Leadership from Inside Out, I have urged every minister I could button-hole to read it as well. My attraction to the book can be summed-up in its subtitle: “Spirituality and Organizational Change.” Sometimes in direct ways, but more often in subtle ways, it takes on our present day penchant for “top-down” leadership in religious…

Leading Ideas
0 Can White Mainline Churches Outside the South Reach New Christians?

This is the question raised by Martha Grace Reese and the Mainline Evangelism Project she directed. The results of her research, funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., were published recently in Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism (Chalice Press, 2006). The purpose of the Mainline Evangelism Project was to see how well mainline churches were doing in helping people become…

Leading Ideas
0 Lessons for Clergy Preparing to Leave a Congregation

Lawrence W. Farris writes that how a pastor leaves a congregation is crucial for the pastor’s future work and well-being as well as for the congregations. Good endings to pastorates open the door, for both pastor and congregation, to promising futures of new faithfulness to God’s work in the world. Abbreviated, curt, lack-of-closure endings, on the other hand, encumber both…

Leading Ideas
0 Ten Commandments for Pastors Leaving a Congregation

Lovett Weems recommends a book to help pastors who are ending ministry with a congregation or moving to a new pastoral assignment. Lawrence W. Farris has written a superb book to help pastors who are approaching the time of leaving ministry in a particular place. Using the model he applied to his earlier book for pastors who are new in…

Leading Ideas
0 The Tully Principle of 52 Equal Sundays

Bill Tully’s principle of 52 equal Sundays strives to have powerful worship every Sunday of the year to best reach visitors at all times of year. After Easter, attention in the church is likely to turn toward plans for the summer. Such plans often include a “change of pace” with adjustments in worship times, number of services, types of music,…

Leading Ideas
0 Should You Change the Worship Time for the Super Bowl?

Adam Hamilton relates how changing a worship time to avoid a conflict with the Super Bowl helped connect with the non-religious and nominally religious. We have five worship services each weekend at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. The last of these services begins at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. This year, on the Sunday the Super Bowl was…

Leading Ideas
0 Jesus Asked the Right Questions

Marc Brown explores how Jesus defines the reality of God’s kingdom and his own identity by asking the right questions. In the ninth chapter of Mark, Jesus asked his disciples: “What were you discussing on the way?” He was evidently aware that the disciples had been debating who the greatest was among them. Jesus could have responded to the disciples’…

Leading Ideas
0 It Takes Teamwork

Kevass Harding writes that God calls us to be in relational ministry where God’s people work together for the building up of God’s kingdom here on earth. Teamwork is essential to the vitality and life of the church. One person cannot do it all. The pastor of the church should not attempt to do all the work in the church.…

Leading Ideas
0 Keeping Your Ministry Fresh and Creative

Self-care is a key to staying fresh and creative in ministry over the long haul according to Jim Somerville. I’ve been an ordained minister for 20 years, which means that when Easter Sunday comes around this year, I will climb the steps to the pulpit, look out over that beautiful, bonneted congregation, and breathe a heavy sigh. How will I…

Leading Ideas
0 Good to Great and the Social Sectors

Lovett Weems draws church leadership lessons from Jim Collins’s book Good to Great and the Social Sectors, which itself draws lessons from the business world for the non-profit sector. When Jim Collins’s book Good to Great was published in 2001, it received immediate and widespread attention because of his previous work and the exhaustive research that went into the book, as…

Leading Ideas
0 Small Churches as Healthy Family Systems

Lewis Parks examines basic concepts of family systems theory as a positive framework to understand the dynamics of small membership churches. While teaching pastoral care and counseling to a group of licensed pastors who serve small membership churches, I decided that a lecture on family systems would be just the ticket. Students of the pioneering work of Murray Bowen and…

Leading Ideas
0 Measuring Church Numerical Growth is Not as Easy as it Seems

George Bullard suggests an expanded understanding of what represents real numerical growth in light of each church’s situation. A recent request for the names of growing churches caused me to think about how hard it is to measure church growth. One’s first reaction might be that it is an easy task. If a church has more people in attendance this…

Leading Ideas
0 It’s Not about the Numbers…. Actually It Is about the Numbers

Lovett Weems stresses the need for quantitative metrics, arguing that churches will never make the changes needed to attract new people until they commit to reach those people. Qualitative and quantitative measures of church vitality both have their place.  A frequent indicator of ineffective leadership is a tendency either to ignore or to excuse actual outcomes and accountability. Have you…

Leading Ideas
0 What Leaders Need to Know about the Emerging Church

Susan Cox-Johnson shares insights about the the Emerging Church and ways of connecting with postmodern generations. It was only a few years ago that I first heard of “The Emerging Church.” I encountered the literature of the emerging church in an evangelism class, and it immediately resonated with me. At that time, I was serving Broadway United Methodist Church located…

Leading Ideas
0 Learning to See and Listen to Younger Adults

Susan Cox-Johnson encourages church members to seek out and listen to young adults in their communities to learn about their life and faith. As a United Methodist district superintendent, I have begun a three-year younger adult initiative. Meeting with each of the congregations in my district, I have tried to raise their consciousness about the young persons in their communities.…

Leading Ideas
0 Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations

Matt Miofsky reviews Inside the Organic Church by Robert Whitesel, which tells the story of 12 emerging congregations. Bob Whitesel’s book, Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations (Abingdon, 2006), is a helpful guide for pastors unfamiliar with the emerging church as well as those well versed in the conversation. Similar to other books about the emerging church…

Leading Ideas
0 Focusing Your Message

Ann Michel offers a variety of suggestions to help churches improve different kinds of communication by prioritizing messages. Sometimes church members are poorly informed because they receive too much information — not too little. A barrage of uncoordinated messages can be confusing and overwhelming, causing people to tune out. Churches can improve their communication by prioritizing messages. Each different communication…

Leading Ideas
0 Outside-in Thinking Improves Church Communication

Ann Michel writes about tailoring the methods of church communication and the content of messages to specific internal and external audiences. Why does church communication so often miss the mark? Two main culprits are failure to appreciate the complexity of audiences and unfocused messages. A carefully planned communication strategy can help a church move beyond confusion and connect more effectively…

Leading Ideas
0 When Church People Swarm

Margaret Marcuson says that when anxiety is high, church people often function reactively rather than thoughtfully, and band together like locusts. As a young seminarian, I was surprised to find myself caught in the crossfire of a major church conflict. I was the focus of it. Some in that congregation didn’t believe women should be allowed to preach. I remember…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership Lessons from a Dairy Queen

Adam Hamilton says ensuring a quality experience and pursuing excellence demonstrates that we care about people and desire a relationship with them. One evening, my wife, LaVon, and I stopped by a Dairy Queen just before its closing time. I ordered a cherry dipped cone. The cherry sauce was apparently too hot, and it resulted in a less than perfect…

Leading Ideas
0 Doing Things Well

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., advises that churches set high standards, pay attention to details, and do things with quality, rather than doing just enough to get by. Do you remember McDonald’s slogan “What you want is what you get”? McDonald’s developed this theme for a national advertising campaign to assure their customers they would actually receive what they ordered. To…

Leading Ideas
0 Becoming a Spiritual Leader

Bishop John Schol writes about the spiritual qualities of leadership: deep faith, discipleship, and the heart and mind of Christ, and the fruits of leadership. “The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers,” said Max De Pree in his book Leadership Is an Art. He also added, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The…

Leading Ideas
0 Spiritual Leaders and Vision

Bishop Schol writes that spiritual leaders help a congregation discern and attain a vision of their future. Spiritual leaders are compelled by vision. Out of their love of Christ and their hope in God’s coming reign, they work to help a congregation discern a compelling vision for itself. Spiritual leaders help others to follow that vision. In leading toward a vision,…

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