Top Leading Ideas Articles of 2020


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.

Open church doors

Why Reopening a Church is Different

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.

Read more now.

Venn diagram of hybrid ministry

Committing to a Hybrid Model of Ministry

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.

Read more now.

Livestreaming a church service

Get Ready for the New Normal

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.

Read more now.

Lone person walking through vast desert sand dunes

Leading When You Don’t Know the Way

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.

Read more now.

Person smiling while looking at a computer screen

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.

Read more now.

Text message inviting friends to online worshipOnline Worship Makes Evangelism Less Intimidating for Many

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.

Read more now.

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Protest in front of the White House in Washington, DCLeading in an Age of Political Polarization

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.

Read more now.

Burnt out matchsticks

7 Things to Do When a Church Is in Decline

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.

Read more now.

COVID graphic and an offering plate

10 Ideas for Church Financial Leaders Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

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.

Read more now.

Line graph showing slow increase then rapid decrease

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.

Read more now.

Howard Thurman

Howard Thurman: Prophetic Witness

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.

Learn more and apply now.

Doctor of Leadership students in discussions

Apply Now for Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership at Wesley

New cohort begins May 2021

The COVID-19 crisis has confirmed the need for adaptive and innovative leadership in the church. Wesley Theological Seminary and the Lewis Center together offer the Doctor of Ministry in Church Leadership Excellence. With this track, clergy will receive the enhanced knowledge, skills, and motivation to increase congregational and denominational service, vitality, and growth.
Learn more and apply today.


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The Lewis Center staff has assembled and edited this material.