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 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,…

Leading Ideas
0 Resources for Satellite Worship

Dottie Yunger offers ideas for churches interested in using portable worship installations for satellite worship in nontraditional settings. Many congregations today, regardless of their size, are thinking of church “outside the box” — that is, worship in a non-traditional setting. In response to this need, there are several companies specializing in portable staging, seating, sound and lighting equipment, and trailers…

Leading Ideas
0 A Two-Point Charge Launches Satellite Contemporary Worship

Amy Yarnall writes about the launch of a new satellite worship service by two churches on a two-point charge. Last spring, a new worshipping community was born in Cecil County, Maryland. Launched at an Easter Sunday service with 160 worshippers, “Jacob’s Well” has continued to draw at least 100 people almost every week since, with an average of five to…

Leading Ideas
0 Motivating Generous Giving

Scott Cormode writes that pastors need to provide the theological categories to make spiritual sense of money and the issues that it creates. There are many motivations that preachers use when they attempt to motivate people to give. Some talk about the good things that the money will buy — whether food for the hungry or electricity to light the…

Leading Ideas
0 Lead Now

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., writes clergy must focus clearly and passionately on those they are serving now, rather than hoping for something better in the future. An unfortunate tendency for many leaders is to live mentally and emotionally in some future leadership assignment. As a local church pastor for much of my ministry, I remember well how tempting it was…

Leading Ideas
0 A Healthy Youth Group

An excerpt from Amy Jacober’s book,  The Pastor’s Guide to Youth Ministry, includes a top ten list. There is no one way to do youth ministry,” says youth minister Amy E. Jacober in The Pastor’s Guide to Youth Ministry (Abingdon Press, 2006). And this realization can free you to approach the task authentically, prayerfully, and successfully. This book offers encouraging,…

Leading Ideas
0 The Challenge of Fruitfulness

Robert Schnase writes that the most important fruits are growing, vibrant congregations that are changing lives through Jesus Christ. The word “fruitfulness” keeps surfacing in church conversations these days. Scripture is ripe with references to fields and harvests, vines and branches, stumps and shoots, trees and figs. Indeed, the image of fruitfulness gives us a powerful language for understanding effective…

Leading Ideas
0 Assessing the State of Pastoral Ministry

David McAllister-Wilson recommends Jackson Carroll’s book about pastoral excellence that draws from sociological research and interviews with pastors. “Tend your career with care. Take the initiative to nurture and nourish it.” That charge to pastors is a benediction offered by Jackson Carroll near the end of God’s Potters, a new book for anyone interested in sustaining pastoral excellence. Carroll has…

Leading Ideas
0 No Solitary Leaders

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., reveals that Paul Revere was not a lone actor, but an organizer, connector, and motivator involving about 60 others in his effort. In 1861, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published his famous poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” It transformed Paul Revere from a New England regional folk hero into a national figure of high prominence. Paul Revere’s accomplishment was,…

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.…

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