2019 was a year for the books. As time continues to move on, things seem to be changing faster and faster, which makes leadership more and more challenging.
Which is why I’m so glad we’re in this together.
We covered a wide range of topics on the blog this year and had some fascinating conversations. 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 6.2 million times by leaders around the world in 2019, making 2019 the most-read year to date in this space.
By the way, if you want a quick guide to my top 10 most-listened-to podcast interviews in 2019, here you go.
Below are the Top 10 most-read blog posts I published in 2019.
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….
Every year I do a church trends post, and this year it was the most read post all year.
I love doing this post because it’s critical church leaders keep trying new things and keep experimenting.
Why? Because the gap between how quickly you change and how quickly things change around you is called irrelevance.
Too many church leaders are perfectly equipped to reach a world that no longer exists.
In the hopes of helping every leader better accomplish our collective mission, here are 5 disruptive church trends I see defining conversation and action in 2019.There's no shortage of information in our culture. But there is a shortage of meaning. Click To Tweet
If you want to lead well, you need to read well.
Certain books can give you the unique insight you need to make sure not only that the organization you lead is healthy, but that you and your team stay healthy?
I get asked all the time from leaders what my top leadership books are.
I’ve put together my top picks.
These are the books that I may have read recently or years ago, but who’s ideas have left deep marks on my life and leadership, years or even decades later.Great books shape how we think, and how we think is who we become and how we lead. Click To Tweet
Sadly, even if you read this months or years after this is published, chances are there will be yet another large church pastor who went down in flames.
The hardest part is there are just no winners. At least not in the short term. God is a God of redemption and he writes better stories than we do, but the pain of deliberate sin is something we’re best to avoid.
If there are direct victims (affairs, abuse, fraud), and sadly, often there are, their lives are devastated and their faith too often shattered or snapped. The people who were part of any movement or congregation associated with said fallen leader are crushed. The families of leaders are devastated, sometimes beyond repair.
And in the midst of it all, the unchurched gain one more reason to run in the opposite direction.The seeds of failure are in all of us. So are the seeds of finishing well. Click To Tweet
And it has a lot of church leaders and Christians scrambling to figure out what’s happening, why it’s happening and what it all means.
Those are great questions.
On the positive side, a lot of the social stigma associated with ‘missing a Sunday’ is gone…and that’s not a bad thing. Self-righteousness and judgment should never have felt at home in church anyway.
On the other side, though, what’s actually going on?You don't go to church, you are the church. But the 'you' in you are the church is plural, not singular. Church is bigger than you. Click To Tweet
The people who are at your church today are there because they like it the way it is.
Change that (even for the better), and some will leave.
It will shock you. It will disappoint you. It will leave you scratching your head. And it’s unavoidable. But you need to keep moving or else you’ll be paralyzed by focusing on who you want to keep, not who you want to reach.
So why do people leave when things are going well?As surprising as this sounds, every time you make progress as a church, you'll lose people. Click To Tweet
How do you feel about your phone?
That’s an increasingly interesting question.
Ask me that five years ago and I would have told you I love mine.
My guess is that by now you might have a love/hate relationship with it.
This summer I wrote a book on overwhelm and burnout that will come out in September 2020. The deeper I dive into the subject, the more I think the reason we’re all kind of numb and anxious has more to do with technology than we think.
Personally, I don’t like my phone nearly as much as I used to even three years ago. I find fewer things of real value on it. And yet it’s always in my hand or in my pocket. Welcome to 2019.We live in an age where we no longer own our devices. Our devices own us. And when technology runs us, it can ruin us. Click To Tweet
So much is changing so quickly in our culture.
One of the things that is changing quickly is how deeply we seem to hate each other.
I wish I could say Christians were exempt from this trend. We’re not. In fact, there are a good number of Christians who are fuelling it.
A few years back, my social feeds felt a lot more fun than they are now. Some days the feed is so bad I just give up…it seems like an endless drone of suspicion that fuels anger that spawns outrage that powers division.
It’s almost as though if you’re not outraged, you can’t have an opinion.
I’ve stopped following some people I used to follow because, well, it’s just wearying. Sometimes it feels like the outrage just waits to jump on whatever issue seems easiest to follow. It’s a parasite looking for the next animal to suck dry.
So what’s going on? How did we end up this way?
And is there anything that you and I can do about it?It's almost as though if you're not outraged, you can't have an opinion. Click To Tweet
I opened up the blog to a few more guest posts in 2019 than I normally would have, and you seem to love it. This year, Jeff Henderson’s first guest post made it into the top 10.
In 2011, sociologists noticed an unprecedented increase in anxiety and depression among teenagers.
As Cal Newport points out in his excellent book Digital Minimalism, the only factor that also dramatically increased at this time was the number of teenagers owning their own smartphone.
“The use of social media and smartphones look culpable for the increase in teen mental-health issues,” said Jean Twenge, San Diego State psychology professor. In her article for the Atlantic entitled Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? she went on to add, “It’s enough for an arrest – and as we get more data, it might be enough for a conviction.”
This new reality has caused anxiety and fear on the part of parents, and rightly so. How do we find the right balance for our kids between benefiting from technology while avoiding the danger of it? That’s a great question.
The goal isn’t to ban technology. The goal is to manage it. Like anything in life, when managed and led well, technology can actually be an asset to our lives.
To get there, we need to avoid these four common mistakes parents make with technology.How do we find the right balance for our kids between benefiting from technology while avoiding the danger of it? The goal isn’t to ban technology. The goal is to manage it. Click To Tweet
There’s always someone at the leadership table who thinks we can’t afford to lose anyone.
That’s simply not true.
There are a few kinds of people you can’t afford to keep.
In fact, sometimes the people you are most afraid of losing are the people you can’t afford to keep.
Here’s the strange paradox of leadership: some of the people you think you can’t afford to lose are the very people you can’t afford to keep.
So how do you know the difference?Some of the people you think you can't afford to lose are the very people you can't afford to keep. Click To Tweet
As you may have noticed, there’s a bit of tension in the workplace and in culture these days.
Younger leaders are complaining (a lot) about older leaders (who are often their bosses).
Older leaders are complaining (a lot) about younger leaders.
I’ve heard an equal number of younger leaders (the bulk of my readers are leaders under the age of 40) complain about their bosses and how frustrated they are with their older co-workers.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that, as revealed by a Gallup study, 70% of US employees are disengaged at work.
So, I decided to do a survey of 900 leaders to get more feedback on what’s really going on.Leaders, being willing to hear what's wrong is a first step toward making things right. Click To Tweet
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Any other favorites?
Are there any posts missing that impacted you this year?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.