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 to address the current situation.
Alex Shanks says the question of whether to reopen is different for a church than for other institutions. Rather than just reacting to what others are doing, churches need to model responsible decision making and exceed basic health guidelines to protect the most vulnerable.
Tom Berlin says churches will likely need a hybrid ministry model with a mix of in-person and online ministry for some time. He shares thoughts on how churches can embrace this approach and focus their efforts as they move forward.
As restrictions on gatherings imposed by the COVID-19 crisis begin to ease, congregations are likely to find themselves in a both/and reality. They will need to sustain an enhanced digital presence while at the same time resume normal patterns of gathering. Now is the time to strategize and put teams in place to support the challenges and opportunities of this new normal.
Consultant Susan Beaumont says church leaders need a different set of skills in ambiguous, disorienting periods of transition. In such seasons of change leaders must manage anxiety, embrace the freedom of unknowing, explore new possibilities and avoid acting prematurely.
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.
One apparent advantage of an online worship format is that people seem to be more inclined to extend and respond to invitations to check out church online. Virtual evangelism is proving easier, less intimidating, and more spontaneous than face-to-face evangelism.
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David Brubaker says leaders need different skills in this age when deep political divisions affect our families, congregations, and communities. It requires clarity, compassion, courage, and connection.
Ron Edmondson says addressing decline promptly and honestly is difficult but critical work for congregations in a slump. Objectively evaluating problems, avoiding blame, and charting a clear way forward are some of the steps he recommends.
Ken Sloane of Discipleship Ministries shares 10 ideas for church financial leaders to help sustain the church and its ministries in the face of interruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
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.
New Doctor of Ministry
What does it mean for a leader to stand in the gap between the way things are and what they could be? Howard Thurman’s prophetic witness exemplified this form of leadership. Thurman did not demonize those responsible for systemic ills. Instead he emphasized a positive vision of the way things could be. This track of doctoral study from Wesley Theological Seminary focuses on the power of a prophetic witness like Thurman’s to draw people toward a positive new future. In a world that’s all about drawing attention to one’s self, a prophetic witness moves us toward a new reality grounded in God’s grace.