The 5 Most Read Blog Posts of 2021

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Well, 2021 wasn’t that much of an improvement over 2020, huh?

Same polarization. Same declining church attendance trends. Same arguments over working from versus going back to the office. And with a new COVID variant breaking daily reported case records all over the world, it almost feels like we’re stuck in a time loop.

We covered a lot on the blog this year (and I released a new book!), but looking at the top viewed and shared posts of 2021, it seems like a lot of leaders were drawn to topics related to engaging the next generation and reversing stagnant church growth (which, to be honest, isn’t a big surprise).

Below, we’ve collected the five most popular blog posts we wrote in 2021. Maybe you’re new to the blog (or you just missed one…or two…or three), but it’s such a privilege to be on this journey with so many of you.

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.

Starting with #5, here are the top 5 blog posts written in 2021.

5. Most Small Groups Can Be Mediocre: 10 Lessons From a Church Whose Small Groups Are Exploding

In this post, former team member Dillon Smith writes about his experience watching CityLight Church’s unique approach to small groups result in incredible growth. 

I’ve always had a hard time with small groups as a church leader.

In my experience, whenever a church launches a new wave of small groups, you’re really hoping to just keep most of the people that show up on week 1 through week 10.

Usually, you launch with groups of 20 and are happy if you have groups of 8 by the end of the semester.

You might have had a similar experience.

As a result of this, I’ve grown a bit cynical about small group ministries.

And I almost gave in to my cynicism. But there was one problem with my theory:
CityLight Church.

Read more by clicking the link below!

Most Small Groups Can Be Mediocre (10 Lessons From A Church Whose Groups Are Exploding)

4. Why They’re Not Coming Back to Church (And What To Do With Who’s Left)

You probably remember the predictions back in the Spring of 2020: As soon as churches reopened for in-person worship service again, people would flood back into church, high-fiving people and embracing friends they hadn’t seen in weeks or months.

Then the lockdown went from weeks to months, to in some cases, a year or longer.

As churches reopened in a slow, regional, checkerboard pattern across the US and eventually around the world, the Great Return didn’t happen.

Admirably, most pastors kept hoping.

And now, almost two full years into the pandemic, with some states and regions having been open for a year or longer, the slow realization is finally happening.

The Great Return to church has become the Great Realization: Maybe they’re not coming back. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever.

Read more by clicking the link below!

Why They’re Not Coming Back To Church (And What To Do With Who’s Left)

3. The Coming Church Split (It’s Not What You Think)

Is there a split in the future church ahead?

Unfortunately, I think the answer is yes.

It’s not your typical (and usually awful) church split about doctrine, polity, personality or the color of the carpet. It’s bigger than that, and for the most part, you won’t even realize it’s happening until you look back a few years from now and see what took place.

If you look a little more carefully right now, you can see that as the post-pandemic world takes shape, there’s an emerging divide between churches that are well-positioned for the future and churches that aren’t.

The coming Church split is a split between the kinds of churches that will thrive in the future and the kinds of churches that won’t.

The criteria between effective and ineffective churches continue to morph and accelerate as the world re-opens in at least four key areas.

The question, of course, which of the four best describes your church?

Read more by clicking the link below!

The Coming Church Split (It’s Not What You Think)

2. New Exodus? 4 Reasons So Many People (Including Christians) Have Suddenly Left the Church

You’ve probably noticed. Leading a church is more confusing, frustrating, and complex than ever.

I broke down the depressing Barna report that documented the shocking decline in church attendance and religious participation in the U.S. and offered my four suggestions as to why so many people have opted out of going to church.

Read more by clicking the link below!

New Exodus? 4 Reasons So Many People (Including Christians) Have Suddenly Left the Church

1. 8 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2021 (The Rise of the Post-Pandemic Church)

Every year, I write a Church Trends post in January, and more often than not it’s the most-read post of the year. That stayed true for 2021.

For the most part, many of the trends have emerged and are still relevant to what we’re all experiencing right now. Some accelerated dramatically.

8 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2021 (The Rise of the Post-Pandemic Church)

Lead With Confidence and Clarity. Grow Your Church.

As leaders, we tend to see the challenges and roadblocks before other people do.

We've all been there before...

  • You need to refresh your vision for the future but know that change will be an issue for that person.
  • You're overstaffed (or missing a key role) and can't find the right person to fill the role.
  • You aren't reaching enough new people even though you've tried everything that's working for other churches.
  • You can see the issue but aren't confident in what to do about it.

And with another Sunday morning coming up, it'll just have to wait until next week when you have a few minutes to figure it out.

Now ask yourself this:

What would it feel like to have those answers at your fingertips 24/7?

Whether it's reaching new people, improving your preaching, increasing volunteers, refreshing your vision, engaging your staff, or any of the countless challenges we face as church leaders, The Art of Leadership Academy will equip you to lead your church with confidence and clarity.

Between comprehensive church leadership courses, live coaching calls, staff and volunteer training resources, and direct access to an online community of senior-level church leaders, you'll get the exact insights and answers that fuel your church for growth.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.