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 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…

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.…

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