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 Leaders Tell the Story of Their Organization

Storytelling is a relatable, memorable way to convey information and engage peoples’ hearts and minds. Justin Irving says effective leaders master the art of storytelling to engage stakeholders in the mission of their organizations. Storytelling can help leaders at any level of influence. And telling stories well—stories about the organization and its work—is essential at the organizational level. The importance…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Benefits of Intergenerational Christian Formation

A family of faith more fully reflects the body of Christ when generations come together, and each individual brings their unique, God-given gifts. The authors of Intergenerational Christian Formation outline five benefits of intergenerational ministry for the church and members in different stage of life.    Intergenerational faith experiences uniquely nurture spiritual growth and development in both adults and children. We…

Leading Ideas
0 How to Develop a Social Media Strategy That Enhances Your Ministry 

What are the benefits social media can bring to your ministry? Scott Holthaus highlights ways churches can build and boost their social media strategies to maximize the benefits of your church’s social media presence.   Building social media within ministries can feel daunting, foreign, and complicated—especially at first. It can feel like we’re putting in a lot of effort for very…

Leading Ideas
0 Clergy Health and Wellness in the Post-Pandemic Era: An In-depth Interview with Allison Norton

What is the state of clergy health and wellbeing coming out of the pandemic? What factors and practices influence the emotional wellbeing of clergy? Allison Norton describes new research that reveals growing discontentment even though clergy health and wellbeing tends to be better than that of the general public. Ann Michel: Before we get into the subject of clergy health…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Amidst Christian Nationalism

Lovett H. Weems Jr. outlines seven strategies for responding to Christian nationalism in measured and faithful ways. Church leaders should try to help congregants put their love of country in perspective as people of faith while not expressing judgment or devaluing the feelings of loss that often give rise to today’s iteration of Christian nationalism.   Talk of Christian nationalism can…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Improv Skills for Church Leadership

Incorporating lessons from improv comedy into ministry might seem unlikely, but it has profoundly impacted Elizabeth Hurd’s ministry. Through improv classes she’s discovered five key improv skills that enhance effective church leadership: listening, saying “yes, and,” staying grounded, being bold, and supporting from the backline. “Dude, welcome to hell! Get ready for some torture!” Church leadership requires bold choices! Leaders…

Leading Ideas
0 The Great Omission

Michael Adam Beck and Stephanie Moore Hand say that if we take from Jesus’s Great Commission only the call to “make disciples” we are omitting one small but important word. GO! The Great Commission isn’t about bringing people into the church building and properly Christianizing them. It’s about a community of learners, going out together, becoming, and making disciples as…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Clues for Reaching New Believers

Lovett H. Weems Jr. shares metrics for gauging your church’s effectiveness in bringing new people to faith. He also outlines three clues that can help churches of all sizes reach new believers.   The Religious Workforce Project of the Lewis Center is a multiyear effort to understand the changing religious landscape in the 21st century. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the project explores…

Leading Ideas
0 Intergenerational Christian Formation: An In-depth Interview with Holly Allen

How can bringing different generations together in worship, learning, and community promote faith formation? Holly Allen discusses the benefits of a more intergenerational approach to ministry and strategies for helping young and old journey together in faith.  Watch the interview video on YouTube, listen to this interview, or continue reading. Ann Michel: You have written a book, Intergenerational Christian Formation: Bringing…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Overcome Barriers to Affordable Housing Development on Church Property

Richard Reinhard says pairing the surplus of faith properties with the deficit of affordable housing appears to be a match made in heaven. Yet common barriers often stand in the way. He suggests five adjustments that faith institutions, municipalities, and the real estate industry can make to realize this opportunity. A tsunami of emptying houses of worship—up to 100,000 according…

Leading Ideas
0 Why Making Your Church Multigenerational Is Worth the Effort

Chuck Lawless says it is hard to be a multigenerational church, but it is worth the effort. He outlines some of the benefits of multigenerational ministry as well as the obstacles that prevent many congregations from embodying this ideal. This article was originally published on July 5, 2022. Many churches consist of one primary generation, and that’s not the healthiest…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Steps to Becoming a Cultural Detective

Thinking of yourself as a “cultural detective” is a way to expand your appreciation, sensitivity, and respect for others and build bridges that span human diversity. Lucia Ann McSpadden, one of the authors of Building Lasting Bridges: An Updated Handbook for Intercultural Ministries, outlines four tools for analyzing intercultural interactions.  As you seek to grow in your understanding of yourself…

Leading Ideas
0 Should a Church Close?

Sustainability is increasingly difficult for the ever increasing number of churches worshipping small numbers each week. Lovett Weems captures the dilemma for church leaders and draws from Carey Nieuwhof some reasons why a church may need to close. In the last few years, we at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership have observed an increasing interest in information regarding the…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Touchstones of Welcoming Newcomers Today

What was once perceived as welcoming may no longer resonate with the unchurched of today. How can congregations extend hospitality to the unchurched? Brett DeHart shares three touchstones of modern hospitality: safe place, people matter, and joyful energy. Every church thinks they are welcoming. Today’s unchurched have different ideas though about what it means to be truly welcoming. I train…

Leading Ideas
0 Working through the Stages of Grief when Cutting Your Budget

Dan Pezet says a major alignment in a church’s budget can be accompanied by all the classic stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. By acknowledging these phases and allowing people to come to grips with their emotions a church will ultimately find its way to the final stage of grief—acceptance. This article was originally published on January 14, 2011.…

Leading Ideas
0 Close Generation Gaps, Deepen Relationships

How can congregations close generation gaps by building intergenerational relationships and ministries? Laura Buchanan offers several ways congregations can create opportunities for people from different generations to build relationships, serve together, and mentor one another. One of the most precious gifts each person has is our true self, the individual God created us to be. Allowing ourselves to know and…

Leading Ideas
0 What Does Declining Attendance Portend for Congregations and Their Leaders?

A sustained decline in worship attendance is afflicting most American congregations. Drawing on findings from the Lewis Center’s Religious Workforce Project, Lovett H. Weems Jr. outlines ways congregations can respond to declining attendance and how the trend impacts the deployment of clergy and other congregational leaders.      The Religious Workforce Project of the Lewis Center is a multiyear effort to understand…

Leading Ideas
0 Engaging in the Public Sphere: An In-depth Interview with Kevin Slayton

How can church leaders better engage the public sphere and expand their prophetic witness? Kevin Slayton, a pastor with a passion for public policy and prophetic preaching, reflects on building relationships, engaging in politics, and his book Politically Preaching, Why Politics Are Local to the Black Church. Watch the interview video on YouTube, listen to this interview, or continue reading. Jessica…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Lessons from Nehemiah for Faith-based Property Development

David Bowers draws key lessons from the biblical story of Nehemiah to guide churches that are redeveloping their buildings or property to serve community needs. He says that such development is difficult, but doable, when approached with the correct spiritual and practical perspectives.   Many houses of worship have underutilized land and air rights. Those resources can often be activated for…

Leading Ideas
0 11 Questions for Getting to Know a New Congregation

Robert Harris shares a method for interviewing congregational leaders and others to help an incoming pastor learn about a new congregation. He recommends interviewing a broad representation of leaders and encourages pastors to be relaxed and curious during the interviews. This article was originally published on June 10, 2015. I believe that one of the most important gifts a new…

Leading Ideas
0 Saying Goodbye in the Sermon

Beverly Zink-Sawyer says the sermon can provide a way of offering a good and gracious “goodbye” to a pastor, preacher, or member of the congregation who is leaving. She provides guidance on acknowledging the past while also claiming the hope in what is yet to come, a list of dos and don’ts, and key biblical references.  There is an old…

Leading Ideas
0 Guidelines for Healthy Clergy Transitions

Susan Nienaber says all major life transitions can be hard, but ministry transitions come with unique challenges. She provides helpful guidance on how a pastor and congregation can make a healthy transition when clergy come and go.    ’Tis the season for clergy transitions in many of our congregations. I am one of those clergy who happens to be transitioning. While…

Leading Ideas
0 Innovating to Build Communities Where All Can Flourish: An In-depth Interview with K Scarry

How can a passion for helping people flourish lead to social innovation? K Scarry share about social innovation and the ways she is supporting local artists, helping create spaces where everyone can thrive, and more.   Watch the interview video on YouTube, listen to this interview, or continue reading. Doug Powe: Share a little bit about yourself and how you got into…

Leading Ideas
0 Preparing to Receive a New Pastor from a Different Racial or Cultural Background 

How can a congregation help an incoming pastor from a different racial or cultural background lay the groundwork for successful ministry? The United Methodist General Commission on Religion and Race shares strategies and resources to help congregations and leaders in cross-cultural ministry partnerships begin on the right foot.   When preparing to receive a new pastor from a different racial or…

Leading Ideas
0 New Pastors Should Make Time to Listen

Sidney Williams writes that a top priority for a new pastor needs to be listening to the stories of congregants to discern needs, learn who the leaders are, and build community. The importance of spending time listening, sharing, laughing, and crying together cannot be overstated. This article was originally published on June 10, 2020. The first year of a pastoral…

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