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 Preaching Truth in the Age of Alternative Facts

New Testament professor Bill Brosend says that preaching in the age of fake news and alternative facts can be like walking a tightrope. But it’s when the stakes are highest that it’s most important to be disciplined, humble, and aware that actions speak more eloquently than words. How are we to proclaim good news in the era of fake news?…

Leading Ideas
0 8 Things Your Christian Educator Wants You to Know

The work of faith formation leaders in a congregation is expansive and vital, yet often undervalued and misunderstood. Virginia Callegary lifts up the need to support and affirm their work by sharing eight things she and other Christian educators want church leaders to know. Many churches employ a faith formation leader, Christian educator, or youth leader. Churches that do not…

Leading Ideas
0 Overcoming Apprehension about Change

Dan Turner led an older, established congregation through a restart. The remnant of members from the previous church brought many gifts to the new church, but also a healthy dose of grief and skepticism. They had to change and sacrifice. But ultimately, the power of seeing lives transformed overcame their grief and apprehension. A restart is different from all other…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways to Create a Guest-Friendly Worship Service

How can you position your church for increased attendance and growth? John Zehring, author of Get Your Church Ready to Grow, suggests six strategies that can make your worship more attractive to visitors, without requiring a major investment of time or resources. 1. Explain your time-honored traditions Integrate into your worship a brief explanation of religious practices and traditions in…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Faithfully in the Public Square

Amy Butler, pastor of the historic Riverside Church in New York City, reflects on how churches can faithfully address the issues of the day without turning every Sunday into a political rally. She says a church’s prophetic witness must be grounded in the gospel and flow authentically from a healthy lived experience of beloved community. In today’s political climate, many…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Key Questions for Evaluating Ministry Possibilities

Aaron M. Bouwens says too many churches make decisions based on the popularity and charisma of a plan’s proponents. He says congregations can make better decisions by asking key questions about the proposal’s alignment with mission and whether there are enough people and resources to support it. The church council meeting has been moving along just fine when out of…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Lessons for Better Preaching

Charley Reeb, author of two books on preaching, says that preachers better connect with people in the pews when they realize they are in the pulpit, not the classroom, and strive for messages that are less academic and more relevant to everyday life. One reason so much preaching misses the mark is that preachers tend to approach the task as…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Ways to Involve Younger People in Stewardship

Churches too often overlook younger adults when it comes to stewardship and giving. Ian Urriola outlines four ways churches can foster a culture of generosity among young people. It’s stewardship season here in the U.S. The temperature is starting to cool down. The days are getting shorter. Pumpkin spice lattes are being consumed by the gallon. As we stare down…

Focus
0 6 Trends Revealed in 2018 Clergy Age Report

Lovett H. Weems, Jr., highlights some of the significant findings in the Lewis Center’s annual Clergy Age Trends Report. Of note is the modest downturn in recent years in the number of clergy under 35 as well as the number and percentage of young women clergy, following a decade of improvement. Download the 2018 Clergy Age Trends Report.   For over…

Focus
0 Young Clergy Effectiveness: Good News-Bad News

Data from the Lewis Pastoral Leadership Inventory™ (LPLI) suggest that younger clergy share many of the same strengths as their older colleagues and that they get high marks for their creativity and new ideas. The challenges seem to be sustaining that creative edge over time and translating new ideas into fruitful outcomes when it comes to worship attendance and discipleship…

Focus
0 5 Reasons the Church Still Needs Young Clergy

For many years the Lewis Center has monitored the presence of younger clergy in the church. Why do these trends still matter? Lovett H. Weems, Jr., and Ann A. Michel remind us that despite modest progress in the past decade, encouraging the ordination of more young candidates for ministry is just as important as it was when they first articulated…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Ways to Maximize Your Church’s Home-Field Advantage in Giving

Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard, authors of Contagious Generosity, say churches can reach donors in ways no other nonprofits can. Congregations can maximize this “home-field advantage” by building trust, enhancing relationships, casting vision, and working to shape their culture in ways that enhance generosity. Even though people attend church services less regularly today than in the past, the church still…

Leading Ideas
0 What Happened in One Small Church Mattered

Roger Lovette shares the touching story of returning to the first church he ever served,  thirty years later, to find they had finally acted on his recommendation to relocate to a more desirable location. The story is a reminder that change takes time and, more importantly, that transformative ministry continues along the way, keeping church going and making it holy…

Leading Ideas
0 People Too Busy to Serve? Teach Them to Steward Their Time

Lewis Center Staffer Ann A. Michel says people who think they are too busy to serve at church should be challenged to reexamine their priorities and make first fruits commitments of their time. Helping people steward God’s precious gift of time can free them from chronic busyness and allow them to experience the joy of serving. These days, it seems…

Leading Ideas
0 Engaging Young Adults Through Innovation

Ebonie Johnson Cooper describes how involving young adults in an innovative process of ministry design can enhance their church participation. She outlines five pilot initiatives that are proving fruitful at Reid Temple AME Church in Maryland. Contrary to popular belief, young adult Christians are not a monolithic group. We do not think alike. We do not worship God alike. And…

Leading Ideas
0 Welcoming Change Begins with You

Simple habits of congregational life, such as always sitting in the same pew or greeting the same people after worship, might seem normal and innocuous. But they can be unwelcoming and off-putting to newcomers. The good news is, simple steps to disrupt these habits can make a big difference to visitors and these changes can begin with you! We are…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Tips for Launching a Church-School Partnership

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center Staff outlines four ways a church can lay a solid foundation for a church-school partnership before jumping in headfirst. Listening, learning, establishing trust, and building solid relationships are key first steps. Many congregations find that reaching out to their local schools is an important way to serve children and their families and strengthen ties…

Leading Ideas
0 9 Questions to Assess Your Church’s Financial Health

Lovett H. Weems Jr. says paying attention to various indices of your congregation’s financial health is a key practice in remaining economically viable and sustaining vital ministry. He offers nine questions to help focus attention on important considerations related to your church’s long-term financial sustainability. 1. What percentage of your operating budget is funded through recurring and predictable sources of…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Steps for Putting Good Ideas into Action

Missouri Pastor Jim Hoffman discusses how a five-step process for evaluating and testing possible new initiatives can help churches develop and implement ideas in a more thorough and systematic manner. Have you wondered why your congregation continues to struggle despite the many proposals for new or improved ministry? Many congregations regularly generate new ideas for new program initiatives, new ways…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways Female Leaders Undermine Themselves

Church consultant Susan Beaumont says that power accrues more easily to men than women in our culture, so women need to be especially savvy about how they use their power. She outlines five common ways that women can undermine themselves when it comes to using power. We’ve all seen this happen: A woman suggests an idea or solution to a…

Leading Ideas
0 Who is Looking for a Church Home?

John Zehring, author of Get Your Church Ready to Grow, says it’s helpful for a church to focus its outreach on categories of people who might be more receptive to finding a new church home, such as recently divorced or widowed persons, those new to the neighborhood, or inactive members interested in reengaging. There are many categories of people with…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Lies We Like to Tell About Church Growth

Church consultant Dan Hotchkiss exposes some of the reassuring lies that cause many churches to stagnate at a comfortable size while ignoring well-established truths about church growth. Growth, he says, requires doing something new. Some churches grow, and others shrink. Most oscillate for decades around a size they find comfortable. Whether your church is trying to achieve escape velocity from…

Leading Ideas
0 Planning for a Strong Finish to Your Stewardship Campaign

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says the success of a pledge drive depends in large part on reaching givers who require a bit more encouragement. So, even after Commitment Sunday has come and gone, you need a plan for critical but often overlooked steps such as following up with those who don’t initially respond and thanking those who…

Leading Ideas
0 2 Churches — 1 Pastor

It is increasingly common for a congregation to share a pastor with another congregation and for pastors to be serving more than one church. Lew Parks, author of Small on Purpose, considers this trend and some of the skills and perspectives needed in multi-church settings. One of the most significant sociological and organizational trends in the church today is the…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Key Practices for Building a High-Trust Culture

Amy Valdez Barker says that the church should be a training center in the development of trust. She names practices that leaders can employ when groups come together to create environments that foster and facilitate a high-trust culture. The church should be one of the primary training centers in building high-trust communities and high-trust cultures. Our faith in Jesus requires…

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