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 Servant Leadership: Jesus & Paul

Ann Michel reviews Efrain Agosto’s book which suggests Christian leadership involves core New Testament values — service, humility, love, justice, suffering and sacrifice. Efrain Agosto’s new book, Servant Leadership: Jesus and Paul (Chalice Press, 2005), reminds us that leadership is inherently contextual and relational. Forgoing character study, he concentrates on how Jesus and Paul related to others, particularly other leaders, and…

Leading Ideas
0 Knowing the Pathways of Congregational Life

Margaret Marcuson advises pastors to learn the history and familiar ways of a church before introducing change because the patterns of the past will have an effect, one way or another. On a recent trip to Kansas for a family reunion, I made my way out to the property that used to be in my grandmother’s family. My great-great-grandparents had…

Leading Ideas
0 Lovett Weems Recommends Books by Peter Drucker

The Effective Executive, originally published 1967 and still available in many editions The forerunner of countless management books, The Effective Executive is the best-known and most widely read of Drucker’s books. Much of its strength is in its simplicity. Drucker’s principles are clear, easy to understand, and obvious – at least once he tells us! Leaders would do well to…

Leading Ideas
0 Divided by Faith and United by Faith

Ann Michel reviews two books abut the relationship between race and religion. Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith (Oxford University Press, 2000) documents the pervasiveness of the racial divide in post-Civil Rights America, despite a decrease in overt prejudice. Unfortunately, the authors conclude that American religion is…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership and Racism

Leadership requires us to declare that racism is wrong, and we must work constantly to confront it and end it, according to Lovett Weems, writing about the church’s stance on the issue of race after an important date in America’s race relations history. December 1, 2005, marked the fiftieth anniversary of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on…

Leading Ideas
0 Churches Birthing Churches

Richard Hunter describes a church growth strategy that involves a strong parent church launching satellite congregations that share the parent church’s basic DNA in its response to a strong sense of God’s call. In August 1999, Hillside United Methodist Church had come to a critical juncture. Located in the rapidly expanding suburbs northwest of Atlanta, we had outgrown even our…

Leading Ideas
0 Moving in Faith to a New Location

David Abbott describes the way his Maine congregation handled the transition while moving from an old building to a new facility. In 1996, Belfast United Methodist Church in Belfast, Maine, with an average attendance of 50 each Sunday morning, was discerning whether to remain in its current facility or relocate. The church building, constructed in 1858, needed a variety of…

Leading Ideas
0 Fruitful Leadership for a Mission-Shaped Church

The church calls results-oriented leadership fruitful leadership because it bears the seeds of God’s future, says Wesley Seminary’s David McAllister-Wilson. The Bible is replete with stories of fields and harvests, vines and branches, stumps and shoots, trees and figs. This imagery of “fruitfulness” gives us a language for understanding effective Christian leadership. While the secular world speaks about “results-oriented” leadership,…

Leading Ideas
0 A Plentiful Harvest

Tom Berlin explains why fruitfulness in terms of membership, discipleship, and growth are key measures of leadership effectiveness. I grew up in a town surrounded by apple orchards. Orchard workers tended the trees throughout the year. They put spacers in the branches, fertilized, trimmed and sprayed the trees so that every fall the orchard would be laden with fruit. An…

Leading Ideas
0 Important Lessons My Congregation Helped Me Learn

Richard Hunter shares lessons learned about how his style in addressing a problem could divide or unify the church in a common goal. Several years ago, my church was adding a fourth Sunday morning worship service. Although necessary to accommodate our growth, this change would stretch us in the parking lot, nursery, and in organizing volunteers. One key to success…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Worship for Those Not There Yet

Bishop Jonathan Gledhill says you must lead worship in a way that appeals not only to the current congregation but to people who are not yet there. I went for the first time to a church in a scruffy area of Bristol. It was an evening service and there were perhaps thirty-five people in a church that had been built…

Leading Ideas
0 Developing a Strategy for Your Congregation

In his book, Leading a Local Church in the Age of the Spirit, Bishop Jonathan Gledhill writes about the primacy of vision and strategy which, once determined, puts other decisions into perspective. During our various building projects, it was noticeable how people pulled together. They took pride in achieving things. They put themselves out for the common good. When we were…

Leading Ideas
0 Planting A Garden: Growing The Church Beyond Traditional Models

Ann Michel reviews Linda S. McCoy’s book about launching non-traditional worship in a satellite congregation. In June 2017, after McCoy’s retirement, The Garden Community Church was formally chartered  at the Annual Session of the Indiana Conference. A decade ago, Linda S. McCoy, one of the pastors of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, set out to create a non-traditional worship experience…

Leading Ideas
0 The Gift

Ann Michel writes about the remarkable bequest given toward college education by Osceola McCarty, who completed sixth grade, as an example of selfless living and generosity. “What would stewardship season be without the widow’s mite?” muses Barbara Brown Taylor inThe Preaching Life (Cowley Publications, 1993). “It would be like Thanksgiving without turkey, Christmas without presents, Easter without eggs.” This ancient text might be dismissed as…

Leading Ideas
0 A Leading Ideas Interview with Adam Hamilton

Lewis Center Director Lovett Weems interviews Adam Hamilton to glean insights for other churches in the Church of the Resurrection’s success. The Rev. Adam Hamilton is one of the outstanding mainline church leaders in America. At age 26 he started the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR) in Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. He has led…

Leading Ideas
0 Defining Congregational Effectiveness

Ann Michel compares two research efforts that help define the qualitative factors of congregational effectiveness and their impact on growth. What makes a church strong? Too often, measures of church success seem illusive and intangible or, alternatively, superficial and arbitrary. However, new broad-scale empirical research is helping to define the qualitative factors of congregational effectiveness and their impact on growth.…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Healthy Conflict Practices into Membership Vows

Jonathan Arnpriester helps avoid church conflict by including positive conflict values in new membership training and membership vows. I have always struggled with the presence of seemingly unnecessary conflict in congregations. Some unhealthy behaviors, such as control issues and gossip, can be seen as individual personality problems. Yet, they can result in a systemic illness for the entire congregation. So…

Leading Ideas
0 The Church of the Good Air

Rhonda VanDyke Colby writes about the congregation at Bon Air United Methodist Church making an imaginative turn from the church’s history to its mission in articulating a vision statement, prayer, and covenant promise on the theme of being “Good Air.” How a church is born can make a difference in how that church lives. Will the congregation begun as a pioneering…

Leading Ideas
0 What I Learned from a Group of Unruly Youth

Will Rowan, a youth minister in Alberta, Canada, learns from an unexpected outcome in a prayer workshop for high school students. During the spring of 2003, I was part of the “Littlemore Roadshow” bringing workshops to high schoolers in rural Alberta. We were scheduled to work with seventy eleventh graders in Wainwright – a group so difficult most of their teachers…

Leading Ideas
0 Making Church Matter for Youth

Ann Michel recommends three books as guideposts to navigate the sociological and theological terrain of youth ministry. What is the religious life of American youth like? A trio of recent books offers some guideposts to navigate the sociological and theological terrain of youth ministry. They call into question many traditional assumptions about teenagers and religion, reveal the depth and complexity…

Leading Ideas
0 Prayer and Fasting Leads to a New Mission and a “Mission Prayer”

While pastor of a church started in a rapidly growing area, Peter Moon describes how prayer and fasting led his church to a renewed sense of mission, purpose, and humility as they faced new challenges. Three years ago, Woodlake Church was at a crossroads. Originally planted in a large subdivision southwest of Richmond, for years the church had a local focus. As…

Leading Ideas
0 Ten Commandments for Pastors New to a Congregation

Lawrence W. Farris has written Ten Commandments for Pastors New to a Congregation, a guide for clergy in their early months and years in a new parish. Making transitions is one of the key challenges for all leaders, including church leaders. An inability to make transitions well is a key factor in “derailment” in secular positions. We also know that much…

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…

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