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 How to Ask People to Give (Even in a Pandemic)

Margaret Marcuson shares ideas for asking people to support the church even in these most uncertain times. She says leaders should set an example through their own giving, preach regularly about money and faith, tell the story of people’s gifts at work, and overcome their own reluctance to ask. “How can I ask people to give to our ministry when…

Leading Ideas
0 12 Practices to Cultivate Humble Leadership

The best leaders understand the importance of humble servanthood. But what practical measures can a leader take to demonstrate genuine humility? David Horner offers 12 practical suggestions to cultivate a humble spirit. Maybe I am too much of a pragmatist, but sometimes a leader just needs to know what to do next and why that is important. Since I am…

Leading Ideas
0 10 Ideas for Your 2020 Annual Campaign

Wondering how to approach a stewardship campaign in the era of COVID-19? Ken Sloane offers ideas that affirm the importance of the church’s ongoing mission while being sensitive to economic loss, attentive to people’s experiences and stories, and grateful for all gifts. In a more “normal” time, congregational planning would be underway for the annual campaign. Though it may look…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Like Moses: 4 Ways to Know What to Delegate

Micah Fries and Jeremy Maxfield say that delegation is a critical skill that improves a leader’s focus, multiplies impact, and develops the capacity of others. They offer four key questions to help a leader discern which tasks and responsibilities should be delegated to others. There are certain things that only you can do from your position of leadership. There are…

Leading Ideas
0 The Church and Election Day

Although congregations are prohibited from endorsing candidates or parties, Doug Powe and Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff say there is much a church can do to encourage people to vote, ensure that voting occurs in a safe and secure manner, and encourage hope and civility in this polarized time. Conducting a national election in the midst of a…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Addictions the Church Must Overcome to Grow in the Future

Carey Nieuwhof explains that churches must respond to a culture that has become even more digital, mobile, and home-centered during the COVID-19 crisis. He predicts growing churches will focus less on place-based ministry and packed rooms and will adjust budgets and attitudes to fit a new reality. You’ve probably learned a lot about yourself in the last year. Crisis does…

Leading Ideas
0 Congregations That Thrive without Full-Time Clergy

Jeffrey MacDonald shares the story of a Massachusetts church on the brink of closing that turned itself around by embracing a new ministry model with a part-time pastor. A key to success, he says, is shedding conventional wisdom about who is supposed to do what in congregational ministry. From the outside, First Parish Church (United Church of Christ) in Newbury,…

Leading Ideas
0 Participation Is Up but Giving is Down for Many Congregations During the Pandemic

A Lake Institute survey reveals that the impact of the pandemic on U.S. congregations has been mixed. A majority of congregations (52 percent) reported an increase in participation, but a plurality of respondents (41 percent) experienced a decrease in giving. During these unprecedented times, how have congregations responded? Through a recent survey of congregational leaders from across the country, Lake…

Leading Ideas
0 Young Elder Numbers Return to Near Historic Low in UMC

Lovett H. Weems Jr. reports that the number of young elders in the United Methodist Church has dropped precipitously in the past two years. The number of elders age 35 and under has fallen nearly to the record low recorded 15 years ago, erasing a decade of progress. This year, the number of young elders (under 35) in the United…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Suggestions for Managing Conflict in Polarized Contexts

Effective leadership is the critical variable that holds an institution together when conflict threatens to tear it apart. David R. Brubaker says a high level of conflict is less likely when leaders engage conflict, manage polarities, commit to respectful cooperation, speak truth, and protect their people. Few individuals are eager to lead in a polarized time. Yet leaders today cannot…

Leading Ideas
0 Is It Time to Right-Size Your Staff?

This might be the time to have a conversation about right-sizing your staff, says Jim Kitchens. He outlines different ways to approach the task depending on the urgency of the situation. Many churches have been struggling for years to raise the financial resources needed to maintain the staffing model they’ve “always had.” This struggle has come into even sharper focus…

Leading Ideas
0 What Is Your Narrative?

Is your church dwelling in a story of woe and discouragement? Or does it see current circumstances through the lens of change and new opportunity? According to Mike Bonem, leaders set a positive tone for their churches by framing a narrative that emphasizes bright spots and the belief that God is doing something new. What is the overarching narrative that…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Factors that Make You a More Influential Leader

A leader needs influence to move a community in the right direction. Eight key factors can help you gain and keep influence writes F. Douglas Powe, Jr., director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, and James C. Logan, Chair of Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship), at Wesley Theological Seminary. There is often a difference between who is in…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Types of Alignment between Pastor and Congregation Promote Well-being and Effectiveness

Matt Bloom, principal investigator for the Flourishing in Ministry research initiative, says a good fit between pastor and congregation is essential for pastoral effectiveness and well-being. His research suggests clergy thrive when there is alignment between the job responsibilities and the pastor’s skills, a match between the values of the pastor and those of the church, and when the position…

Leading Ideas
0 Changing the Tone of Conversations about Money and Church

Money conversations can be difficult in churches. But Lovett Weems suggests two principles that can change the tone of stewardship conversations. Never talk about people’s money apart from their discipleship and never talk about the church’s money apart from its mission. There are two principles that, if followed, can change the tone of stewardship in our congregations. These principles may…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Keep Your Leadership Pipeline Full

How can you make sure your church will have the new leaders it needs? Ken Willard and Kelly Brown consider how succession planning, a process common in the business world, can be adapted to help your church maintain a strong pipeline of leaders. Have you ever found yourself struggling to fill a key leadership position in your church?  Most of…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Essential Practices of a Hero-Making Leader

Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird say that effective leaders focus less on being the hero themselves and more on making other people heroes in God’s unfolding story. This hero-making approach to leadership development is rooted in Jesus’ ministry and rests upon five essential mindset shifts that build the kingdom through the power of multiplication. Hero making is a term we…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tools the Pandemic Has Uncovered for Special-Needs Ministry

Sandra Peoples, a leading voice for the special-needs community, says the modifications churches have made to reach members during the COVID-19 crisis have made special-needs families more connected than ever. She believes new ways of reaching out to those in isolation could continue to bless these families long after the pandemic has passed. For my family, social isolation isn’t much…

Leading Ideas
0 Good Administration is Good Leadership

Bishop Will Willimon says competent, efficient, hands-on administration is just as important as the “big picture” leadership skills of inspiring a vision and nurturing theological purpose. Good management increases a church’s capacity to implement change and move forward. Many leadership books play off management against leadership, lamenting a preponderance of bean-counter managers and paper-shuffling administrators when what we need are…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Principles of Radical Hospitality

Yvonne Gentile and Debi Nixon believe radical hospitality means going beyond mere friendliness to surprise and delight church visitors. Three keys are letting guests know they are noticed, paying attention to their needs, and consistently following up after their visit. What does exceptional hospitality look like in practice? Radical hospitality is hospitality that goes beyond being friendly; it is welcoming…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Steps for Moving from Protest Moment to Social Action Movement

Anthony Hunt writes that recent social movements raise the question of how protest moments can lead to substantial, sustainable social change. He outlines eight steps for galvanizing support and moving from reaction to constructive, coordinated action. Recent protests across America have heightened awareness of several urgent social issues — from Black Lives Matter and the need for police reform, to…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways to Reset Your Stewardship Ministry in the Midst of COVID-19

Nearly half of congregations say stewardship is the biggest challenge they face as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Stewardship expert Clayton Smith says churches can bounce back and suggests three ways to move forward with sustained generosity. Lake Institute of Faith & Giving recently surveyed church leaders about Faith and Giving in the Time of COVID-19. Nearly half of…

Leading Ideas
0 Ministering with Families in the Ongoing Pandemic

Emily Peck McClain describes the very real challenges children, youth, and families face during this time of upheaval and distance from physical church. She offers practical suggestions for how congregations can meet their material, spiritual, and emotional needs. Those who minister with families are facing difficult challenges in these days. When schools are closed children suffer the loss of much…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Ways to Counter Online Fatigue

Are you and your church growing weary of so many online encounters? There are different ways of connecting safely that don’t involve staring at a screen, writes F. Douglas Powe, Jr., director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership and James C. Logan Chair in Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship) at Wesley Theological Seminary. The past few months have…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Tips for Connecting with People in the Digital Realm

Tim Snyder considers how church leaders can connect with new people through digital relationships. He explains how digital platforms provide enhanced opportunities for listening, prayer, storytelling, and evangelism in the course of day-to-day life. The digital revolution has been transforming our lives for the past 30 years — at home, at work, and, yes, at church. But in the face…

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