Top “Leading Ideas” Articles of 2023


Report on Disaffiliating United Methodist Churches through 2022: Comparing Similarities and Differences

Road sign showing one my go straight forward or turn toward the rightWhat are the characteristics of churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church? Lovett H. Weems Jr. reports that there are more similarities than differences between the cohort of disaffiliating churches and the total pool of all United Methodist churches. But disaffiliating churches are overwhelmingly in the South with majority white memberships. They are also more likely to have a male pastor and are less likely to have an active elder as pastor. Read more now.

5 Principles for Pastoring a Vibrant Older Congregation

Engaged group of older adultsKarl Vaters highlights the importance of building a strong, vibrant congregation of seniors with intentionality, training, and a focus on the future. He emphasizes the potential impact seniors can make in the ministries of the church and the need to be intentional about engaging seniors in the life of the congregation. Read more now.

4 Functions of a Church Choir

A choir in a sanctuary getting ready to singBrian Hehn says a church can have a vital music ministry if its choir focuses on four key functions — leading and enlivening congregational singing, singing music that the congregation cannot, serving as a small group within the church for faith formation, and singing music that glorifies God and edifies the congregation. Read more now.

4 Ways Preaching Can Boost Worship Attendance

Pastor preachingPopular preacher and author Charley Reeb shares four preaching strategies to grow your church, all based on the notion that we have to connect with people’s interests and meet them where they are. Read more now.

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What to Do When the Wrong Person is in a Key Staff Position

Overwhelmed person at their deskMany churches are rethinking their staffing needs. Susan Beaumont says designing the new staffing structure is easier than making the needed personnel changes to enact the plan. She outlines ways that congregations can implement a proactive transition plan that will help realize their objectives more quickly and can be kinder in the long run to everyone involved. Read more now.

10 Tips for Building Genuine Connections with Your Neighbors

Standing outside chatting with people in the church's communityKay Kotan says we can no longer wait for people to come to church. The church must go out into the community and meet its neighbors. She provides ten easy strategies for your church to build genuine connections with your neighbors. Read more now.

4 Key Characteristics of Missional Congregations

Stained glass window of a crossCongregations that want to move forward and live more missionally need to understand and embody four key characteristics, says F. Douglas Powe, director of the Lewis Center and the James C. Logan Chair in Evangelism (an E. Stanley Jones Professorship) at Wesley Theological Seminary. Missional congregations must be connected to their context, bound as a community by a common story, open to positive innovation, and guided by a godly vision. Read more now.

The 5 P’s of Sustainability for Small Churches

Small church gatheringRebekah Simon-Peter says small churches cannot succeed by emulating the megachurch model of programming for every stage of life. She believes that five P’s — people, prayer, provision, partnership, and presence — are key to the sustainability of smaller churches. Read more now.

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5 Essential Qualities of Effective Evangelism

Icons representing hospitality, relationships, integrity, sharing the Christian message, and rootedness in the churchPriscilla Pope-Levison’s 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. Read more now.

The Stone Soup Recipe for Vital Small Church Worship

Big pot of soup simmering on a stoveTeresa Stewart says that small congregations have a powerful worship planning option that expands participation, emphasizes lay leadership, ends the burnout of meetings, invites local gifts, and heightens anticipation. It’s called Stone Soup worship planning. Read more now.


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The Lewis Center staff has assembled and edited this material.