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 Everyone Welcome?

Many congregations truly do believe they are open to everyone until someone different comes along making them feel uncomfortable. I meet people all the time — faithful people, smart people, good and decent people — who have walked away from the church because they have come up against our barricades — our rules, regulations, dress codes, and expectations of behavior.”…

Leading Ideas
0 Why We are Losing Ground with Young Adults

I have the amazing privilege of working with spiritually sensitive and passionate young adults from across the southeast. I am also charged with understanding why the church is losing ground with young adults. After hundreds of conversations with young adults, I have identified some common strands running through their decisions to leave the church, or at least our version of…

Leading Ideas
0 Changing Religious Traditions: Not New but Accelerating

The recently released report on shifting religious affiliations among Americans is receiving significant media attention. Prepared by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the report followed interviews with over 35,000 adults in the United States and gives a detailed picture of what most religious leaders had already assumed. While a shifting religious economy is not new, the extent…

Leading Ideas
0 Review of What’s Theology Got to Do With It?: Convictions, Vitality, and the Church

Many of us intuit that there is a critical deficit of theology in contemporary congregations. Like Anthony Robinson, we have seen the “Pecos River syndrome,” a congregation that is a mile wide and a foot deep. Like Robinson, we have groped for a middle way between congregations that are indifferent to core beliefs and congregations that are uncharitable in handling…

Leading Ideas
0 Eight Strategies for Managing Conflict

In her book Getting to Amen: Eight Strategies for Managing Conflict in the African American Church, Lora-Ellen McKinney summarizes key strategies for managing conflict in what she calls “The 8 P’s.” Church conflict results from the different perspectives held by the very human members of God’s house. For conflict to be resolved, church members must explore ways to move beyond…

Leading Ideas
0 Speaking the Truth in Love to a Longtime Member

During my third year as pastor of the Austin Church in north-central Pennsylvania, I faced a leadership crisis that threatened the effectiveness of my ministry there. The church had been experiencing significant numerical and financial growth. New faces entered the sanctuary every week and for the most part were warmly welcomed into the church. However, one woman — the matriarchal…

Leading Ideas
0 Do Not Enter

When you drive east on Westchester Avenue, the first sign you see when you approach Temple Beth Am is “Do Not Enter.” When we pointed this out to the synagogue’s leaders, they at first denied the sign existed. They had become so used to driving past the temple’s exit that they no longer even saw the sign. Is this an…

Leading Ideas
0 Serving Our Young Adults

Many churches are interested in developing programs for young adults to help their congregations grow. However, there is another equally compelling reason for churches to focus on young adults — the critical needs of the early young adult population. In recent years, our society has appropriately focused on the needs of teenagers. But current trends suggest that some of the…

Leading Ideas
0 Church on the Edge of Somewhere

Some books remind us of the church’s mission to those on the margin of life. We read them; we feel bad. Nothing changes. Other books describe the culture of congregations. They show appreciation for its layers of meaning and its setting in the community. We read them and say, “Yes, that’s how it is.” Again, nothing changes. In Church on…

Leading Ideas
0 Squandering Leadership Potential?

The Washington Post recently published a series of in-depth stories on each of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. The feature article on former Baptist pastor and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee appeared in the December 15, 2007 edition of the paper. The front-page story giving the narrative of Huckebee’s life began with an eye-catching large-print quotation: Huckabee’s decision to enter…

Leading Ideas
0 Megachurches as Resources for Learning

In their new book, Beyond Megachurch Myths (Jossey-Bass, 2007), Hartford Seminary Professor Scott Thumma and Leadership Network executive Dave Travis debunk many of the common misconceptions about the “mega” movement in U.S. Christianity. Nine central chapters expose some commonly held biases about megachurches — that, for example, all megachurches are the same, that they are not grounded in orthodox Christian…

Leading Ideas
0 Congregations Nurturing Future Leaders

In a previous issue of Leading Ideas, Robert K. Martin connects pastoral leadership with gardening. One look at a neighbor’s garden reminds him that the bulbs he took care to put away the previous summer would not be their glorious selves that spring because they were still in the basement. Many other things were done but there would be no…

Leading Ideas
0 Being One Church in Many Locations

The multi-site church approach is not a new one, but one that is rapidly growing in appeal, according to the authors of The Multi-Site Church Revolution. The revolution is not in the church’s desire to reach people for Christ, but in the variety of methods congregations employ to reach beyond their walls. For multi-site churches, geography is no longer the…

Leading Ideas
0 Young Adults and the Future of the Church

How are twenty-and thirty-somethings shaping the future of American religion? Robert Wuthnow, a noted sociologist of religion, considers this question in After the Baby Boomers (Princeton University Press, 2007). Unfortunately, much of his data suggest the future of the church is being shaped more by the absence of younger adults than by their presence. Not only are young adults less likely to…

Leading Ideas
0 Ministering to the Missing Generation

When I began as a twenty-seven-year-old pastor of a small rural church, ministering to young adults seemed like an impossible task. Newspapers and magazines often dressed young adults up as greedy slackers, ever-sponging off our parents and never assuming responsible roles in society. I often did not recognize the people our popular culture described. No matter what cause united moms,…

Leading Ideas
0 Helping Our Children Become Worshipful Givers

Children and youth are typically given little attention in relation to worship through giving. The reasons range from, “They are only children,” to “They don’t have any money.” But children and youth are still members of the Body of Christ. Our children and youth are part of our church today, and they can lead us even more as they become…

Leading Ideas
0 Introducing a Congregation to Contemporary Worship

How to start a contemporary service if you don’t know what it is like. This was the dilemma that faced Union United Methodist Church in St. Louis. Some members had experienced a form of contemporary worship, and others had not. Some had preconceived ideas while others thought only traditional worship was appropriate. Some thought we needed to try it, and…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading in a Wounded Church

One of the most important challenges of the church in our times is the specialized ministry necessary in a congregation after trust has been broken. In recent years there have been many well-publicized instances of clergy and other church leaders who have crossed the boundaries of common morality and taken advantage of those who trusted them. This kind of situation…

Leading Ideas
0 Congregational Leadership in Difficult Times

What would your congregation’s worship service look like next Sunday if your sanctuary burned to the ground tomorrow, if a beloved pastor announced that he or she was retiring suddenly, if a scandal came to light, or if another unexpected catastrophe like September 11th occurred? The thesis of Kathleen Smith’s book is: When congregations go through difficult times, those difficulties…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Church History a Static or Dynamic Force?

Church history is a lot like gravity — it is always with us whether we are aware of it or not. While church history may seem unrelated to congregational leadership, those who attempt to change things soon discover that it lurks just beneath the surface. We have all heard the seven deadly words, “But we’ve always done it that way!”…

Leading Ideas
0 Paying Attention to Those Who Give and Those Who Don’t

I have come to see the importance of thinking about different segments within the congregation. There is tremendous diversity within any congregation when it comes to spiritual development and spiritual growth. One of the things that I have had to learn to do is to think about how we are connecting with each segment. Two examples on either end of…

Leading Ideas
0 A Single Voice

I had been attending a new church for a little over two months, when something changed. I was active in this church, attending Sunday school and participating in the hand bell choir, among other things. During that time a few people made me feel very welcome, especially those people who sat around me or who were in my Sunday school…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Outreach to Young Families with Children Still Enough?

“What we really need is more young families with children.” How many times have we heard those familiar words spoken in churches? The image of many young families with children brings memories of a time many churches associate with their heyday decades ago. But there are changed realities to consider if churches want to move forward into the future instead…

Leading Ideas
0 Coaching and Christian Leadership

Coaching has become a popular topic in Christian leadership. A number of books and resources, as well as training opportunities, are available to help church leaders adapt coaching techniques to the practice of ministry. What can be learned from these resources? While training and supervision generally occur around a prescribed set of goals and expectations, coaching occurs around topics selected…

Leading Ideas
0 Review of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership

Gather stories from 125 corporate leaders, reflect on the common themes, and the end product is a revealing, instructive, and inspirational book. Bill George is a professor at Harvard Business School, and former chair and CEO of Medtronics. He has spent his life exploring what it means to be an authentic leader and is clear that his faith helped shape…

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