The Top 10 Blog Posts Of 2020 (The Dumpster Fire Year That Gave You A Masters in Crisis Leadership)

2020 has been a dumpster fire of a year.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated so many trends, created new trends, fuelled a massive disruption and has given all of us the equivalent of a master’s degree in crisis leadership.

Which is why I’m so glad we’re in this together.

We covered a wide range of topics on the blog this year, but the most-read posts are almost all surrounding the COVID-19 disruption. I can’t thank you enough for the encouragement, the interaction, the ideas and the friendships we make online. As has been the case for years, I want this space to be a place where the good people on the internet can hang out.

The blog was accessed 6.7 million times by leaders around the world in 2020, making 2020 the most-read year to date in this space.

Below are the Top 10 most-read articles I published in 2020.

Each snippet below is just a brief introduction to the overall article. Click on the links to read the full piece, and maybe bookmark this post as a short guide to this year’s best pieces.

You can share it with your team for team discussion to see how you’re handling the top challenges church leaders are facing, or just keep it for personal reflection. Your call.

Here we go….

1. The Original 2020 is History. 7 NEW Disruptive Church Trends Every Church Leader Should Watch

Every year, I do a Church Trends post for the year.

But after the pandemic hit, I thought that I needed to write a “new and updated” version that took COVID-19 into account.

So, I wrote a second one this year about a month into the pandemic.

And you loved it.

This post was by far the most-read post of 2020.

If you haven’t read it yet, or want to go back and review it, here are the 7 Disruptive Church Trends Every Leader Should STILL Be Watching. 

2. In-Person Attendance v. Online Attendance and The Emerging Trap Of Doing Nothing Well

Reopening church has proven to be 10X more difficult than closing church ever was.

In the early days of the pandemic, the hope was first Sunday back would be like Chris Farley’s famous entrance on Letterman.

That hope has given way to the tough reality of social distancing, the inability for many to offer full kids ministry, at-risk adults understandably staying away until a vaccine is widely distributed, and the emerging trend of more people seemingly open to digital church or non-attendance rather than in-person attendance.

This leads to a very real trap that tried to warn church leaders about. Most churches will do both in-person and online services into the future.

The trap: what if you end up doing neither well?

Regardless of your church size, that’s a very real trap for at least three reasons. You can read about them here!

3. The NEW Characteristics of Churches That Will Be In Decline Five Years From Now

As a leader, you’ve likely looked back at a decision another church or organization made and thought to yourself, “how could they not have seen how bad that decision was…I mean, didn’t anybody realize where that would take them?”

And of course, the answer is no…they didn’t see it.

Which is the point of this post.

Five years from now, what will declining churches have done that pushed them into…well, decline? Because right now, leaders are making the decisions that will lead them either into growth or decline.

In the midst of all this uncertainty, you’re making decisions that will shape the future. We all are.

Here are The NEW Characteristics Of Churches That Will Be In Decline 5 Years From Now.

4. Avoid This Big Mistake: Stepping Back Into the Past When You Step Back Into Your Building

There were a lot of powerful lessons that I think churches were supposed to learn during this pandemic.

And this post is one of the many examples where I tried to warn leaders about it.

But I’m afraid that most churches made the big mistake of stepping back into the past anyway, despite my best efforts.

If you’re reading this, please be one of the churches that are still looking to innovate and change.

You can read about how to Avoid This Big Mistake: Stepping Back Into the Past When You Step Back Into Your Building here.

5. 6 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2020

church trends 2020

As I mentioned above, I write a new “disruptive church trends” post every January. This was that original post.

Little did I know…

You can read my original 6 disruptive church trends that I thought would rule 2020 here.

6. Crisis Leadership, Christian Leadership and the Coronavirus Epidemic

Every once in a while you get an ‘I’ve never been through this before’ moment in your leadership, and the current coronavirus phenomenon is one of them.

My guess is there is nothing in your leadership past that is quite like the current COVID-19 pandemic. I led through SARS in 2003, but this has eclipsed anything that happened during SARS with national borders being locked down, travel being impacted, empty stadiums, canceled seasons and daily life changing rapidly.

The question is how to respond as a leader.

This was the first post that I wrote in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

You can read Crisis Leadership, Christian Leadership and the Coronavirus Epidemic here.

7. The Idiot’s Guide to ReOpening Your Church

I’m not sure if I made many friends with this post title, but I think it got the point across. (Admittedly, I was a little frustrated…)

As you know by now, re-opening your church building is a far more complex task than closing your building ever was.

The question is, how do you do it well?

When emotions, adrenaline and fatigue run high (and they’re all running high right now), it’s a perfect set up for decisions you may one day regret.

So, loosely inspired by The ScrewTape Letters (with deep apologies to C.S. Lewis) and by Dwight Shrute’s profound leadership insight from The Office tv show:

Whenever I’m about to do something, I think to myself, “Would an idiot do that?” and if they would, I do not do that thing. 

…here’s my (tongue-in-cheek) attempt at an idiot’s guide to reopening your church.

8. Are Churches Behaving Like Malls In the Age of Amazon, Just Hoping For People To Shop Again?

Because crisis is an accelerator, it reveals and amplifies the weaknesses that were already there, and also accelerates trends that were emerging anyway.

It’s amazing to me that despite the fact that virtually every thought leader and business leader I’ve read or have personally spoken to believes that the crisis is a disruption, not an interruption, a surprising number of church leaders still think of the current crisis as merely an interruption.

When you consider what’s been set into motion during the pandemic: from working from home, the rush to digital,  a damaged economy, massive unemployment, the re-emergence of regional governance, deeply restricted travel, the instability of entire industries, and, of course, the virus itself,  to think that life is going to simply go back to the way it was is not a wise bet.

Which brings us back to the question of this post: Are churches behaving like malls in the age of Amazon, just hoping for people to shop again?

9.When Your Church ReOpens, What Will Be Left and Who Will Still Come? Some Thoughts.

After several months of online-only church, it was hard to know how many new people have come on board, who was still engaged, who was left, and who may have been drifting.

And even as buildings re-open, it’s hard to get a gauge because of social distancing, limited capacity and, in almost all cases, no kids ministry (leaving families for the most part still at home).

In this post, I’ll took a quick look at the numbers, offered some observations and some strategies that I hoped would help your church not just maintain, but advance in the midst of all the uncertainty.

You can read the post here!

10. Some Awkward Questions About How to Measure Online Church Attendance (+ 5 Growth Strategies)

online attendance

Digital church is here to stay. But the big question is this: How should we measure online attendance?

Clearly we’ve moved into a new era of metrics.

While I don’t claim deep expertise in the area of tracking online metrics (I’m more of a writer and online content creator than a person who analyzes online metrics for a living) there are some key principles at stake.

So here are 5 questions about how to measure online attendance and 5 best practices to track online attendance and generate growth.

Don’t Miss Out on the Goodbye 2020 Giveaway

Goodbye 2020 Giveaway

Because of how difficult 2020 has been, I’m giving away a

  • $500 Amazon Gift Card
  • $100 Starbucks Gift Card
  • Custom branded Yeti mug and
  • 5 of my all-time favorite leadership books.

But the giveaway ENDS on New Year’s Eve at midnight, so move fast!

To enter the giveaway, just go to and fill out the form.

Also, please be sure to share this giveaway with as many of your friends and coworkers as you can.

You can enter the giveaway here:

Any Other Favorites?

Are there any posts missing that impacted you this year?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

2020 has been a dumpster-fire of a year.It's also given you a master's degree in crisis leadership. Here are the top 10 blog posts of 2020 as determined by you.

1 Comment

  1. Glen Nash on January 2, 2021 at 12:45 am

    Thanks, Carey! Thanks for digging deep and not just thinking/writing in shallow overtones. While it will be interesting to see – in one to five years — how this pandemic has lasting impact on churches, culture and society — your insights and foresight will certainly move many pastors and churches forward!
    I’m thankful for your blogs, podcasts, books, videos…and your influence in my life, even though we’ve never met (maybe one of these days 😁)!
    God’s blessings to you and your family in the months and years to come—hopefully COVID-free!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.