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 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…

Leading Ideas
0 Review of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase

How can churches today be as vital as the early Christian communities described in the Book of Acts? How can we reclaim the fruitful piety of the early Methodists? Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, a new book by United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase, describes five foundational practices to help congregations be fruitful in ministry to their members and in service…

Leading Ideas
0 An Interview with Bishop Robert Schnase

Leading Ideas had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Bishop Robert Schnase, author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations (Abingdon Press, 2007).  Here are some highlights from our conversation about the book. Christ’s ministry was radical, passionate, intentional, risk-taking, and extravagant. Wow! Dare we settle for anything less? What led you to write this book? For me, the book helps answer…

Leading Ideas
0 Igniting a Ministry

Ultimately Responsible: When You’re in Charge of Igniting a Ministry contains plenty of practical advice on how to jumpstart tired programs and engage church members in meaningful ministry. Sue Nilson Kibbey, executive pastor of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio, outlines a comprehensive system for ministry development that begins with analysis of the essential components of individual leadership and goes…

Leading Ideas
0 A Pastor Describes Her First Day in a New Community

Having attended a workshop on transitioning into a new appointment, I kept remembering the stress put on the importance of your “first official day.” “You only have one first day,” the workshop leader had said. “Use it well.” I am your new pastor, and I wanted to call you on my first official day. I am honored to be your…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Tips for Handling Criticism in Ministry

Margaret Marcuson says that criticism and complaints are an issue in almost every area of ministry. She outlines ten strategies for handling complaints and criticism in ways that can sustain relationships and help you achieve your goals. Dealing with criticism and complaints is an issue in almost every area of ministry. Church leaders have had to deal with complaints from…

Leading Ideas
0 Leadership from Inside Out

Ever since I read Wesley Granberg-Michaelson’s Leadership from Inside Out, I have urged every minister I could button-hole to read it as well. My attraction to the book can be summed-up in its subtitle: “Spirituality and Organizational Change.” Sometimes in direct ways, but more often in subtle ways, it takes on our present day penchant for “top-down” leadership in religious…

Leading Ideas
0 Can White Mainline Churches Outside the South Reach New Christians?

This is the question raised by Martha Grace Reese and the Mainline Evangelism Project she directed. The results of her research, funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., were published recently in Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism (Chalice Press, 2006). The purpose of the Mainline Evangelism Project was to see how well mainline churches were doing in helping people become…

Leading Ideas
0 Lessons for Clergy Preparing to Leave a Congregation

Lawrence W. Farris writes that how a pastor leaves a congregation is crucial for the pastor’s future work and well-being as well as for the congregations. Good endings to pastorates open the door, for both pastor and congregation, to promising futures of new faithfulness to God’s work in the world. Abbreviated, curt, lack-of-closure endings, on the other hand, encumber both…

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