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 5 Ways to Help Church Staff Succeed

How can your congregation help those in paid staff roles perform most effectively? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff outlines five ways to clarify expectations and help church staff develop their professional skills. 1. Clear and reasonable expectations Many churches hire staff without a clear vision for what the person will actually do, desperately hoping that adding staff will…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Reasons Why the Church of the Future Will be Online

With more and more people working, learning, and dating online, Paul Nixon predicts an explosion of online ministry. And rather than just broadcasting things meant primarily for people gathered in a church building, more worship and activities will be designed entirely for and with people on the web. I was driving in Northern Virginia one Sunday morning a couple of…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Strategies for Leading Beyond Your Blind Spots

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says we all have characteristics that others recognize but we can’t quite see in ourselves. Effective leaders see past these blind spots by cultivating self-awareness, seeking accountability, and soliciting meaningful feedback. How many times have you attempted to cross a lane of traffic and ended up with a horn blaring in your ear? Almost every…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Building Blocks for Church Social Media Success

Mark MacDonald outlines how your church can stay in touch with congregants throughout the week with social media posts that extend the reach of your ministry by building an audience and a relevant brand following. It’s difficult to believe we’ve had social media for almost two decades. We once wondered if it would have staying power — and now we…

Leading Ideas
0 A Spiritual Approach to Community Assessment

Luke Edwards says we can explore our communities with the same spiritual practices that deepen our understanding of God’s Word. He has adapted the practice of Lectio Divina as a tool for “reading” the neighborhood surrounding a church in a new, more prayerful way. What if church leaders learned to read their community like they read Holy Scriptures? The practice…

Leading Ideas
0 Take a Risk This Stewardship Season

David P. King suggests churches need to expand their imaginations and think bigger about stewardship, inviting people to live into the role God calls us to in the ongoing creation, redemption, and transformation of this world. Stewardship season is predictable. It comes around every year like clockwork. Predictability brings comfort, and that can be good — like the sweater you…

Leading Ideas
0 What Happens When a Millennial Walks into your Church?

Jeremy Steele says that reaching millennials requires more than marketing and invitation. You need a plan for how to connect with them once they arrive — a plan that engages them in serious matters of the soul and feeds their hunger for authentic community. Churches often spend more time and energy thinking through marketing and invitation strategies than considering next…

Leading Ideas
0 Clergy Age Trends Give Cause for Concern

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., highlights some of the findings in the Lewis Center’s annual Clergy Age Trends report. Of note is a major downturn in the number of elders under 35. He also identifies the United Methodist conferences that are attracting larger numbers of young clergy. Download the 2019 Clergy Age Trends Report. For over 10 years, the Lewis Center…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Practices That Help Newcomers Get Involved

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says churches often operate in ways that make it hard for new people to get involved, even if they are hospitable on Sunday morning. She outlines five practices that can make it easier for new people to get connected and advance as leaders. Newcomers often find it difficult to get involved in church…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Characteristics of Humble Confident Leaders

Confidence is important for leaders, but according to Kay Kotan and Phil Schroeder, confidence can easily tilt toward arrogance. They outline seven characteristics, such as vulnerability, integrity, and inclusiveness, that promote a balanced, humble confidence. Demonstrating confidence is a positive and much needed leadership trait. Confident leaders are convicted to lead towards the mission and vision. They are surrounded with…

Leading Ideas
0 Friendship as a Means of Discipleship

Befriending others was the early church’s method of evangelism, discipleship, and worship. Greg Moore, who works to create new faith communities, says it is critical for the church to remember how to practice friendship as Jesus did. We can’t hear “friends” without hearing Jesus telling the disciples in John’s Gospel, “I no longer call you servants, I now call you…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Church Ignoring Capital Needs?

Lovett Weems says a separate capital budget can help assure adequate funding for the upkeep of a church’s property, facilities, and equipment. In starting a capital budget, a church needs to assess its current and future needs and decide on the sources of income that will be dedicated to these needs. When people think of church budgets, they usually have…

Leading Ideas
0 We Can’t Compete with Sunday Sports if Worship is Boring

Krin Van Tatenhove and Rob Mueller say churches can’t complain about other activities encroaching on Sundays if our worship is boring. No matter the style, Spirit-infused worship that brings people into the presence of the living God is anything but boring! Church leaders will often blame our culture for a lack of Sunday attendance, claiming that the other activities —…

Leading Ideas
0 Should Time and Talents be Part of Your Stewardship Campaign?

Ann Michel, who teaches stewardship at Wesley Theological Seminary, says encouraging people to pledge their time and talents reinforces a holistic understanding of stewardship. But a combined campaign isn’t the only way to communicate that stewardship is about more than money. Should an annual stewardship campaign include the opportunity for people to commit their time and talents to the church…

Leading Ideas
0 Preach Like TED

Charley Reeb says preachers should take a lesson from TED Talks — the 18-minute internet videos that have reached over a billion people worldwide. The popularity of TED Talks suggests people still hunger for powerful, authentic discussion of ideas, especially when presented in novel and memorable ways. TED Talks are watched 1.2 billion times a year! Whenever someone tries to…

Leading Ideas
0 Fruitful Leaders Ask Questions

The paradigm of “leader as expert” doesn’t work in a world where the questions keep changing and old answers no longer apply. Daniel Cash and William Griffith say effective leaders ask the right questions to unleash the creativity of the group and surface new approaches to adaptive challenges. Those who lead in churches today know that congregations are in the…

Leading Ideas
0 Stop Telling People to Turn Off Their Smartphones in Church

Olu Brown says telling people to turn off their cellphones in worship sounds crazy to technologically progressive people who rely on their devices for just about everything. Instead, they should be invited to use them to engage worship more deeply. It always strikes me as funny when a church leader announces to a congregation that the sanctuary is a place…

Leading Ideas
0 A Simple Step-by-Step Process for Creating a Narrative Budget

Church finance expert Bonnie Ives Marden says presenting your budget in narrative form provides a powerful tool for stewardship, evangelism, and marketing. She outlines a step-by-step process for converting a standard line item budget to an inspiring document that highlights your mission. A picture is worth a thousand words! A narrative budget presentation that converts your line item budget into…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Strategies for Reversing the 80/20 Rule

How can a congregation move beyond having a small percentage of congregants doing the lion’s share of the work? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe outlines four simple strategies to expand the pool of participants in your church’s ministry. Many of us are familiar with the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of parishioners typically do 80 percent of the work in congregations.…

Leading Ideas
0 How a Strategically Planned Stewardship Campaign Increased Giving

Stewardship expert Catherine Malotky shares the success story of a church that approached groups of members who had different giving histories with different invitations to give and enjoyed a 30 percent increase in annual giving. Some strategies inspire generosity more effectively than others, so we did a little fundraising experiment in our congregation last fall. We decided to categorize our…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Nostalgia Sabotaging Your Church’s Future?

Matt Miofsky says that a sentimental longing for the past often distorts a church’s perspective on change and keeps it from seeing new paths. While nostalgia is normal, we need to see it for what it is and not let it keep us from claiming a new future. The dictionary definition of nostalgia involves a sentimental longing for the past.…

Leading Ideas
0 First-time Visitor’s Survey Invites Feedback and Holy Conversation

When Harvest Church in South Georgia sends a follow-up message to worship visitors it includes a request for their feedback. This opens the door to holy conversation and invites visitors to help strengthen the church, making them a part of the church’s mission from the very first day. One local church in South Georgia, Harvest in Warner Robbins, has offered…

Leading Ideas
0 Come on, Pastor. Is Your Job Really Tougher Than Mine?

It can be hard to be a pastor. But Jayson Bradley reminds us that job frustrations and challenges are not unique to the ministry. By constantly harping on the difficulties of pastoring, one projects personal frustration onto congregants and implies that their struggles and challenges aren’t as significant. Google “being a pastor is hard” and you’ll get over 26 million…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways Not to Respond to Criticism

Criticism is almost unavoidable for leaders, says Maxie Dunnam. What is key is knowing how to handle it appropriately. An old saying was right, “Criticism is something you can avoid easily — by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” For leaders, criticism is inevitable. How we handle it determines whether it becomes a “little fox that spoils the vines.”…

Leading Ideas
0 Quit Making Assumptions

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe says incoming leaders are often frustrated when others assume that they already know the ins and outs of the job. He says it is critical to stop making assumptions and provide new staff or volunteers with all the information and support they need. How many times have you found yourself frustrated when taking on a…

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