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 Key Lessons for Managing Congregations in a Virtual Age

Turning toward a hybrid future, churches have focused much attention on digital worship. John Wimberly says it’s just as important to consider how to work with staff and volunteers. He names key issues for managing programs and ministries in an era when working from home and digital meetings are likely to remain part of congregational life. Congregations do not have…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Amid Controversy Over Masks and Vaccines

Navigating the complicated and divisive issues of vaccines and mask-wearing has made ministry during this pandemic even more fraught for many pastors and congregations. Doug Powe and Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center say the key question is about how we can be God’s ambassadors in the midst of this tension.  They outline four strategies to reframe the debate. It…

Leading Ideas
0 Building Thriving Rural Congregations

How can rural churches break free from the false narratives and unrealistic metrics that obscure their potential vitality? Allen Stanton lays out a new vision for healthy rural congregations as valued stakeholders and potent agents of change within their communities. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video, or continue reading. Ann Michel: You maintain that the rural church is…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Essential Qualities of Effective Evangelism

Priscilla Pope-Levison’s new book, Models of Evangelism, studies eight influential approaches to evangelism, everything from visitation and revivalism to social media. She finds that regardless of the method deployed, five qualities are essential to effective evangelism — hospitality, relationships, integrity, sharing the Christian message, and rootedness in the church. What makes evangelism good? When we consider the dramatically different models…

Leading Ideas
0 How Parents Help Children Grow in Faith

New research on how parents pass faith to their children provides strong evidence that talking with children about faith in the context of daily life is powerfully important. Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff reports on this and other findings in Handing Down the Faith by Christian Smith and Amy Adamczyk. Parents are the most powerful influence in determining…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Ways to Preach about Money More Effectively

Alex Joyner says tending to our attitudes about money is a way of tending our souls. He shares tips for preaching in ways that can help people see their finances through the lens of faith. Our financial lives are part of our spiritual lives. One of the reasons Jesus talked so much about money is because he realized that our…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Traits People Value in Online Faith Communities

In the rush to offer online worship, many churches have focused primarily on technical and programmatic concerns. Heidi Campbell says it’s more important to consider what people need from church now and how digital technology can meet those needs. This article has been translated into Spanish by United Methodist Communications. I find most pastors and churches focus their attention on…

Leading Ideas
0 Daring to Think Forward in a Time of Accelerating Change

How can churches get ahead of the curve by learning to anticipate change rather than always responding to change after the fact? Ann Michel interviews Dwight Friesen about how to cultivate the imagination and skill set needed to think forward. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video, or continue reading. Ann Michel: Your book is built around the premise…

Leading Ideas
0 Keeping Church Staff Accountable to the Overall Mission

Evaluating church staff by measures related to their own individual performance can lead to ministry silos, says John Wimberly. When every staff person’s ultimate goal is the overall mission, a church is far more likely to make progress. How does a staff person’s work relate to the broader mission of a congregation? When the expectations for every job relate to…

Leading Ideas
0 Are Your Worshipers Tourists or Travelers?

How can you inspire your worship attendees to be active participants rather than casual bystanders? David W. Manner explores the metaphor of travelers versus tourists to consider what it means to be fully engaged in worship. In Teaching a Stone to Talk, Annie Dillard wrote, “Why do we people in churches seem like cheerful, brainless tourists on a packaged tour…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Steps to Resume Ministries beyond Worship in Fruitful Ways

Lovett Weems says that churches should be deliberate and careful in making plans to resume ministries disrupted by the pandemic. The restart of youth ministry, Christian education, mission, and other programs presents an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of your pre-pandemic approach, consider new options, and innovate in ways that promote fruitful outcomes. Churches are devoting a good deal of…

Leading Ideas
0 Commissioning: A Simple Tool for Activating People’s Gifts

David Ferguson, one of the authors of Hero Maker: 5 Essential Practices for Leaders to Multiply Leaders, describes how the simple act of commissioning church leaders can bless their ministries and affirm their gifts. He describes how laying hands on and praying for leaders and ministries teams has energized the leadership culture in his church. How can you bless people…

Leading Ideas
0 Becoming a Digital Savvy Congregation

How can your church extend its reach and maximize its impact through digital media? Doug Powe interviews media producer Phil Cooke about strategies for becoming more media savvy. Listen to this interview, watch the interview video, or continue reading. Doug Powe: Why do so many churches and church leaders struggle to maximize their influence? Phil Cooke: A lot of it’s…

Leading Ideas
0 7 Ways to Make it Easier to Talk about Money in Church

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff writes that churches can promote financial transparency and enhance generosity by addressing the often-taboo subject of money more openly and faithfully. She offers seven practical strategies to improve the tone of your conversation around money and giving. Some congregations are so close-lipped when discussing money and giving that members might think the Christian…

Leading Ideas
0 3 Key Components of Effective Visitor Follow-Up

Yvonne Gentile and Debi Nixon of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection say a church’s first goal with first-time worship visitors is to get them to come back. So, it is important to follow up with them in ways that are prompt, personal, and pleasant. Faith Perceptions, which does research related to the first-time guest experience in churches, published…

Leading Ideas
0 Connecting with the People God Has Placed in Your Pathway

Ann Michel of the Lewis Center staff says churches can improve outreach efforts by focusing on people nearby. Those attending activities in your building, family and friends of members, and immediate neighbors already know something about your church. And you know important things about them as well. Who comes to mind when you think about connecting with new people? This…

Leading Ideas
0 Flipping the Script of Church Owned Property

How can local churches reimagine property stewardship so that a building can fund a church, rather than a church needing to fund a building? Tom Sine and Dwight Friesen offer examples of churches that have discovered innovative ways to leverage their property to fund their church and ministry. It seems clear that the future of the church will focus less…

Leading Ideas
0 Cultivating and Nurturing Pastoral Imagination

What is pastoral imagination? And how can it be nurtured by clergy and laity? Jessica Anschutz of the Lewis Center staff interviews Eileen Campbell-Reed on the subject of how clergy can cultivate and nurture pastoral imagination to address conflict, experience joy, and develop a deep, wise knowing. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Jessica Anschutz: Can you explain the term…

Leading Ideas
0 5 Key Ways to Improve Your Church YouTube Channel

Phil Cooke explains why YouTube is critical to your church’s digital presence. He outlines five ways to improve your YouTube channel and boost your outreach. There’s no question that a great number of church and ministry organizations should be addressing today’s digital mission field. And one of the key platforms is YouTube. Most churches and ministries think YouTube is for…

Leading Ideas
0 6 Suggestions to Promote Healthy Intergenerational Worship

David Manner says the goal of healthy intergenerational worship is unobtainable unless the different generations within your church are first interacting together outside of worship. He outlines six suggestions for bringing those of different ages together in prayer, Bible study, service, song, fellowship, and communion. How can congregations expect to have healthy intergenerational worship when they segregate by age in…

Leading Ideas
0 Relationships are the Key Ingredient in Successful Outreach

Lewis Center Director Doug Powe writes that a focus on relationships helps a church connect with its neighbors in genuine and effective ways. Successful outreach efforts truly engage others by listening, extending invitations, and building community connections. What’s the secret to success in effective church outreach? The question assumes that outreach is like homemade BBQ sauce. If I just add…

Leading Ideas
0 4 Steps to Launch a Ministry of Financial Literacy

Lovett H. Weems Jr. and Ann A. Michel of the Lewis Center explain that churches can play a key role in educating, supporting, and equipping their members to steward their personal financial resources wisely. They outline four simple steps for launching a ministry of financial literacy as an expression of spiritual and pastoral care. Getting one’s own affairs in order…

Leading Ideas
0 Staffing When You Can’t Afford to Staff

Dan Hotchkiss explains how congregations can build their staffs by “hiring” unpaid volunteers. He explains how this approach can make fuller use of a volunteer’s talent and energy while also creating a more unified reporting and decision-making structure. Leaders of small congregations often say, “We can’t afford to hire as many people as we need.” Leaders of large congregations say…

Leading Ideas
0 Leaders Don’t Need All the Answers

Clay Scroggins writes that authentic leaders are comfortable letting others know they don’t have all the answers. Maximizing your influence requires that you resist the attraction of false certainty. We all crave certainty in uncertain times, and leaders are prone to provide that certainty whether they have good reason to do so or not. I’ve sat in meetings with people…

Leading Ideas
0 Leading Like Nehemiah

How does the story of Nehemiah guide leaders today? Lewis Center Director Doug Powe interviews Dr. Lovett H. Weems Jr.  They discuss why Nehemiah is so relevant to leaders in today’s church and how the book of Nehemiah informs our understanding of a leader’s calling and tasks. Listen to this interview or continue reading. Doug Powe: Why do you think Nehemiah…

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