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 Church Leadership Holds Much in Common with Gardening

Robert Martin likens church leadership to gardening because it requires knowledge of the climate, vision, and hard work. I could have kicked myself. There I stood in front of our garden looking at a completely bare-naked area, just dirt and withered remnants of last season’s beauty. Then I looked at my neighbor’s garden, profuse with luscious blooms artfully arranged. Frustrated,…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Stay Connected

Margaret Marcuson discusses the tension between individuality and togetherness for church leaders using the metaphor of a string quartet. Leaders straddle the tension between togetherness and individuality. We want to follow our unique direction as leaders. Yet we need to be connected to the group we lead, and to be accepted. The way a musical group plays together can exemplify…

Leading Ideas
0 Women Leaders Changing the Church

Mary Clark Moschella reviews Back Talk! by Susan Wilhauck which distills insights from feminist theories to articulate a bold strategy to change the church. Backtalk! Sass! Lip! These words don’t exactly evoke the good-girl approach to life in which many Christian women have been nurtured. Susan Willhauck’s book, BACKTALK! Women Leaders Changing the Church, distills insights from feminist, womanist, mujerista,…

Leading Ideas
0 Women and Leadership: New Ways of Thinking

Ann Michel discusses how decades of ordination of women has led to progress with regard to the understanding of women’s leadership, but challenges remain. This year marks the 50th anniversary of women being granted full clergy rights in the United Methodist Church and of women as ministers of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). In the Episcopal Church, it…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership Multiplication and the Way of Jesus

Dwight Zscheile believes that developing leaders is a priority in churches today and he writes about several dimensions of the work of leadership development. The Gospels suggest one of Jesus’ top leadership priorities was developing other leaders — who themselves were capable of forming new generations of leaders. Leadership replication and multiplication characterized Jesus’ ministry, making possible the exponential growth…

Leading Ideas
0 Eat this Bread, Drink this Cup

When communion practices were changed, Pastor Jackie Hoy learned that time, flexibility, and education are key to a congregation accepting change. I have always believed in the centrality of communion. For me, a common loaf and the chalice are important symbols. But one of the two churches I serve had resisted the practice of serving communion by intinction. They served…

Leading Ideas
0 Pitfalls to Avoid in Reaching a Younger Constituency

Reflecting on a failed attempt by Public Broadcasting Corporation to reach a younger audience, Lovett H. Weems, Jr., offers advice to churches about reaching younger persons in a manner consistent with the Gospel. There is no more pressing need for most American congregations than to reach younger people. The average age of church members in many denominations has increased tremendously.…

Leading Ideas
0 A Church That Feeds Body and Soul

Michele McGrath describes the process of leading a congregation in defining a vision that captured the church’s true passion and identity around feeding others. After attending a retreat last fall on “visionary leadership,” I spent six months living and breathing “vision.” I thought about it all the time. I read and reread books. I taught adult classes on the subject.…

Leading Ideas
0 Becoming a Good Samaritan Church

Combining caring ministry with proclamation of the Gospel is the key to effective ministry says Robert Pierson, according to reviewer Ann Michel. In Needs-Based Evangelism, Robert Pierson, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, makes a simple but essential point: We must combine caring ministry with proclamation of the Gospel. Pierson blames the decline of so many mainline…

Leading Ideas
0 A Better Preacher in Thirty Seconds

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., writes that effective church leaders are constantly finding opportunities to help people to see things about themselves. Giving someone recognition is affirmation that strengthens the person’s positive sense of self. A few years ago, when I was a seminary president, I participated in the school’s Honors Convocation. As one of our outstanding students received the annual…

Leading Ideas
0 The Young Clergy Dilemma in Mainline Denominations

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., reviews Leading Ideas research that shows that fewer young persons are entering ordained ministry in mainline denominations. It is easy for mainline congregations to take for granted the presence of an educated church leadership, ever being refreshed by new young persons entering the ranks of the ordained. That may be changing. Today many denominations are facing…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading in the Wilderness: Thoughts on 21st Century Pastoral Identity

Dwight Zscheile outlines how the paradigm of pastoral leadership has changes over the centuries, suggesting that today’s leaders must reclaim the task of leading through the wilderness. Much of the leadership talk in the North American church today is focused on how questions: “How do I cast vision, mobilize lay leaders, make disciples, help renew my congregation?” We seldom step…

Leading Ideas
0 From Faithful Ministry to Fruitful Leadership

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., discusses excellence in pastoral leadership in terms of character, competence, and contribution. These are necessary for fruitful leadership. “What is your ideal picture of the excellent pastoral leader of the future?” An ecumenical gathering of church and seminary leaders reflected on this question. The first person to respond described the ideal pastoral leader as deeply grounded…

Leading Ideas
0 Coaching New Leaders

Steward Perry describes a simple process of on-the-job coaching to help new deacons get familiar with the ministry of visitation. Getting new people involved in leadership often requires intentional effort by the pastor or others. In my ministry, I focus less on “leadership training,” and emphasize on-the-job coaching instead. When two new members were elected as deacons, I set aside…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Community in Churches with High Turnover

Jim Somerville draws from his experience teaching at a college to find a helpful approach to the coming and going of church members. Many communities are becoming very transient places; people are coming and going all the time. That may be good for the housing market, but it is hard on the church. Often, just as you are getting to…

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…

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