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 Diversity Leadership in the Church

As church leaders attempt to address the challenges presented by the expanding diversity of local congregations and American culture at large, a new energizing vision is necessary. Churches need new strategies and tactics to speak wisdom to an increasingly foolish and fractured world in which it is impossible to pull out the weeds without uprooting the wheat also. Partiality, partisanship,…

Leading Ideas
0 Pastoral Transitions — Leaving Well

If you will be moving to a new congregation this summer, keep in mind the importance of ending your ministry well at your current location. It is easy to shift one’s thinking and emotional energy to the anticipated new congregation and neglect some key elements of leaving well and preparing the way for your successor. Most mistakes clergy make in…

Leading Ideas
0 Pastoral Transitions — Preparing the Way for Your Successor

Below are some of the best practices related to pastoral transition suggested by several hundred pastors and denominational leaders. Spend quality time with your successor with an agreed upon agenda. Invite the new pastor to visit and ask what types of information would be most useful so you can prepare for the meeting. Maintain good successor relations. Prepare the way…

Leading Ideas
0 Deliberate Outreach Strategy Leads to Growth

Worship attendance at Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in Gardendale, Alabama, has increased more than 5 percent each year since 1999. One reason for the increase is three different worship experiences with one common message. We often begin the year with a series of messages designed with the unchurched in mind. For example, this year we began with a message…

Leading Ideas
0 17 Ways to Welcome College Students

Your church can make a big difference in the life of a college student!  Here are some fun and easy ways to welcome college students who visit your congregation. They’ll appreciate your efforts and your church will be enriched by their participation. Feeling welcomed is the number one concern of students who attend a new church. Make a point to…

Leading Ideas
0 By Any Means Necessary

Her name is Essalia. She is 25 years old. Ella no tiene tampoco novio o esposo, no sweetheart and no husband, but she is going to have a baby. She also does not speak English. Once we got our names straight at the nail salon when I was on vacation, she commented on my ring. “Que bonita! Su esposo es…

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 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 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 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…

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