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 Ground Rules for Candid Conversations

Tom Berlin says that candid conversation takes courage. But it also requires kindness and compassion. He suggests five practices for approaching difficult conversations with openness, honesty, sensitivity, and grace. There are few places where courage is more required than in the words we say to each other. Jesus demonstrates how the courage of candid dialogue enables us to create deeper…

Leading Ideas
0 Confronting 3 Crises: Pandemic, Racial Reckoning, and Political Violence

David Brubaker says congregational leaders are in the precarious position of responding to three simultaneous crises — the pandemic, racial reckoning, and political violence. This unprecedented situation requires that leaders stay connected with their people, lead from deeply held values, and name and grieve losses. What can a congregation do when a pandemic, a political crisis, and a racial reckoning…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Reasons You Must Not Abandon Your Online Services

Thom Rainer says it is a mistake for churches to give up their digital or streaming services after returning to in-person worship. He outlines seven reasons online worship can augment your place-based worship and reach the community. We are seeing the trends, and they are troubling. As churches return to in-person gatherings, they are abandoning their digital and streaming services.…

Leading Ideas
0 Giving for the Right Reasons

The Christian faith invites us to think about giving in new and countercultural ways. Giving faithfully and for the right reasons puts us in alignment with God’s purposes and brings joy. Our consumer culture sends us many messages about what it means to give and give well. Believing these messages draws us away from the faithful way, and in doing…

Leading Ideas
0 What Will Your Church Look Like Post-COVID-19?

Barry Winders says the COVID-19 crisis is a hinge point for the church. This pivotal time demands mission-focused leaders lest the church slip back into the busyness and nonmissional activities of the pre-COVID-19 past. Whether we accept it or not, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is a hinge point for the church. The church’s mission remains the same. But the execution…

Leading Ideas
0 Is Your Church Ready to Receive a Large Gift?

Many churches dream of receiving a large gift or bequest, but few are prepared for the opportunities and challenges such a gift presents. Ken Sloane poses five simple questions to assess if your church is ready. I hear someone out there saying, “Are you kidding?” Yet, I suspect that many churches are not ready for the opportunities and challenges that…

Leading Ideas
0 Conquering the Challenges of Change

Why are churches so resistant to meaningful change? And what processes can help churches be more agile and innovative? Ann Michel of the Lewis Center shares key concepts in Scott Cormode’s book The Innovative Church about innovation and change. Why are churches so resistant to meaningful change? Yes, many are old, set in their ways, and inwardly focused. But in…

Leading Ideas
0 A Different Approach

Doug Powe of the Lewis Center suggests congregations take a different approach to Black History Month this year. He outlines ideas to encourage church members to think more deeply about faith and race through relational engagement, interracial dialogue, and substantive study. February is Black History Month. In some congregations, it may be a time to incorporate elements of religious expression…

Leading Ideas
0 When Is the Right Time for Strategic Planning?

Susan Beaumont says strategic plans are meant to guide stable organizations through long periods of adaptation. In seasons of disruption and disorientation, other leadership approaches are more appropriate to spur adaptation. Strategic planning: in some congregations it’s the “go-to” solution whenever leaders feel stuck. We need to grow. We want more families with young children. We don’t know what to…

Leading Ideas
0 The Promise of Digital Giving

Ann Michel says that as the church increasingly moves online, so too must the church’s ministry of generosity. But this future requires the capacity to receive digital gifts and skill in soliciting gifts electronically from people beyond the reach of Sunday services. Over the past two decades, as electronic transactions became the norm in our daily lives, most church offerings…

Leading Ideas
0 Reengaging People During Lent

Tom Berlin shares Floris United Methodist Church’s plan for reaching out during Lent to those feeling distant from the church. Each household will receive a Lenten gift bag with everything needed to participate in a Lenten study, join a small group, and attend Holy Week and Easter services. A sign in my office, visible behind me during Zoom meetings with…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Simple Ways to Grow New Leaders

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center suggests ways churches can breathe life into stagnant leadership structures by employing simple organic approaches to leadership development. The key is understanding how formal and informal leadership systems can work together in a healthy leadership culture. Has your congregation relied on the same group of leaders for decades? Some are burned out and in…

Leading Ideas
0 When Churches Engage the World of Business

Audrey Warren led First United Methodist Church Miami toward a new vision anchored in the redevelopment of its property with a commercial real estate partner. She offers tips to churches considering more entrepreneurial ways of financing ministry. The words “church” and “business” often don’t mix well. Some of the discomfort comes from stories and conflicts throughout church history. In many…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading During Turbulent Times

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe writes that the tragic events of January 6 demand our best leadership. He outlines ways church leaders can respond to the fallout from the ongoing political upheaval. Most of us were shocked by the events of Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Not in our wildest imaginations did we expect to see the U.S. Capitol building breached.…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Measure if Your Ministry Is Working

In changing times standard measures of a congregation’s health may not tell the whole story. Naomi Annandale suggests a need to expand and adjust our ways of thinking about effectiveness and offers suggestions on how to measure what is truly important. We’ve added new Sunday school classes to help people build a stronger foundation for faith. Is it working? How…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Trends Impacting Church Leadership for 2021

Doug Powe and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center identify eight notable trends in 2020’s swirl of change. Some trends have been underway for some time, but accelerated significantly in the past year, for example the church’s embrace of online ministry. But in other areas, the events of 2020 have led to renewed emphasis on the basics — prayer, fellowship,…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Reasons Your Church Needs a Planned Giving Program

David Heetland says churches would more commonly receive sizable bequests if they put in place well-defined planned giving programs. He outlines six ways that planned giving can benefit a congregation and its members. Giving through one’s will is the most common type of deferred gift. Yet, more than half of American adults don’t have a will. Of those who do…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Ideas: Top Lewis Center Resources of 2020

Lewis Center resources guide you in strengthening your personal leadership and renewing your congregation. Below are our most popular free and purchased resources of the year, plus a free PDF e-book about change. Year-end Savings Save 25% on video tool kits, video-based study curricula, and PDF e-books with coupon code TOP2020 through January 9, 2020. Shop now.  50 Ways to…

Leading Ideas
0 Top Leading Ideas Articles of 2020

Each December we take a look at the most popular Leading Ideas articles of the year and give our readers a second chance to glean wisdom from them. This year, in light of 2020’s rapidly evolving circumstances, we looked at things a little differently. These 10 articles are not only among the most read but, in our assessment, they continue…

Leading Ideas
0 Reaching New People this Christmas is More Important than Ever

Ann Michel and Doug Powe of the Lewis Center write that the pandemic makes connecting with new people this Christmas more important than ever. But new ways of being and doing church adopted in the face of the coronavirus present some natural opportunities for outreach and evangelism during this holiday season. Earlier this year as churches adapted to the emerging…

Leading Ideas
0 11 Creative Ways Your Church Can Observe Christmas in 2020

Looking for creative ways to observe Christmas this year? A group of Minnesota churches assembled this list of ways to celebrate ​Advent and Christmas safely during a time when churches can’t enjoy fully packed sanctuaries. 1. Send care packages/worship kits with some Christmas items that families can use or enjoy as they embrace the season. 2. Send out instructions for…

Leading Ideas
0 Small Church Big Impact

Blake Bradford shares how smaller congregations can use their unique giftedness to fulfill their mission. He says smaller churches can enhance their vitality by clarifying their purpose, engaging their community, leveraging relational intimacy to reach people and build disciples, and rightsizing their leadership and governance structures. Every church, large and small, has a God-given potential to make a God-sized impact.…

Leading Ideas
0 Addressing the Root Causes of the Crisis of Younger Clergy

Few doubt that struggles over the United Methodist Church’s stance on homosexuality and uncertainty about the future of the denomination are factors in the recent, precipitous decline in the number of young elders. But Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says the church can’t ignore the myriad other systemic problems causing fewer younger people to enter ministry. The Lewis…

Leading Ideas
0 New Questions for a New Day

Michelle Snyder says that the pandemic presents an opportunity for churches to reframe their thinking and reboot their vision. Rather than tweaking what has always been done, this moment invites churches to embrace an expanded vision of community, catch up with societal trends, and rethink the use of new technologies. Let’s face it. Most people have believed for some time…

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