The Top 5 Podcast Episodes of 2021

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2021 may have felt like a rerun of 2020, but it was a great year for podcasting and trying to make sense of it all.

(At least I needed to try to make sense of it all).

From Simon Sinek, Jean Twenge, and Patrick Lencioni to Adam Grant, Christine Caine, and Tim Keller, I’ve been inspired, challenged, and encouraged this year by the amazing conversations I’ve had the privilege of sharing with so many wonderful guests. And you’ve listened more than ever, with over 5.5 million downloads this year alone.

In this blog post, we’ve collected the five most downloaded and listened-to podcast episodes of 2021. Maybe you’ve missed a couple (or are just curious about what everyone else found fascinating), but you can listen to any of these episodes by following the links in their description.

So, starting at #5, here are the top five most-listened-to episodes of 2021.

#5. Episode 426: Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer talks about the current moment in history as being a cultural convulsion that’s making it exceptionally challenging to lead.

In this wide-ranging interview, Ed talks about QAnon, Trump-ism, why Evangelicals gravitate to conspiracy theories and what he sees as an Evangelical reckoning. Surprisingly, it’s a potentially healing conversation many reasonable leaders will find encouraging.

Listen to it by following the link below!

CNLP 426: Ed Stetzer on the Evangelical Reckoning, QAnon, Conspiracy Theories and Why Extremes are Not the Norm

#4: Episode 434: Steve Carter 

In 2018, Steve Carter was one of the named successors to Bill Hybels at Willow Creek. At 38, he was poised to become the senior pastor of one of the largest and most influential churches in America.

Steve talks about the devastating revelations about the ongoing abuse that had been happening under his predecessor’s leadership, leaving Willow Creek, what crisis taught him as a young leader, and why character matters so much.

Listen to it by following the link below!

CNLP 434: Steve Carter on Leaving Willow Creek, What Crisis Taught Him as a Millennial Leader, and Why Character Matters So Much

#3. Episode 422: Gordon MacDonald

One of the most listened to guests in the history of this podcast, pastor and author Gordon MacDonald returns to discuss the damage that driven leaders can create in their drive to get things done. He also talks about how he hit walls in his own leadership and what he did to improve himself.

In Gordon’s words, “Driven people produce shallow followers,” and he explains how to move from a place of “drivenness” to a much healthier place of calling.

Listen to it by following the link below!

CNLP 422: Gordon MacDonald on the Damage Driven Leaders Create, Hitting the Wall in Leadership, and Getting Healthy

#2. Episode 391: Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni, bestselling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, noticed that no matter how long or how well a leader leads, some things continue to frustrate almost every leader.

Patrick and his team came up with a new assessment called Working Genius. Designed to help every leader figure out what energizes and what drains them, Working Genius points leaders to the sources of their best contributions.

In our second most listened to episode of 2021, Patrick explains all six types in the Working Genius framework and how to use the insights to best position yourself and your team.

Listen to it by following the link below!

CNLP 391: Patrick Lencioni on How to Discover Your Working Genius, Uncovering Why Some Aspects of Leadership Drain You and Others Energize You, and How to Get the Best Out of Your Team

#1. Episode 440: John Mark Comer

In our most-listened to podcast episode of 2021, pastor and bestselling author of Live No Lies, John Mark Comer returns to the podcast to update what’s happening in this cultural moment. In this expansive conversation, he shares his thoughts why so many people inside and outside the Church keep falling for cultural lies about sex, truth, and freedom.

We also talk about why the political Left and Right ultimately fail in providing answers to our most pressing needs, and plot a course forward for the Church in exile.

Listen to it by clicking the link below!

CNLP 440: John Mark Comer on Why We Believe Lies About Freedom, Sex, Truth and Culture, How the Left and the Right Fail, and the Way Forward for the Church

Secure Your Church’s Future with a Proven Pastoral Succession Plan.

If you’ve ever wondered:

  • How do I lead this church with a vision I didn’t create and a staff I didn’t hire?
  • Am I even equipped to be a lead pastor? And to lead our church through a healthy transition? 
  • How can I honor the outgoing pastor throughout the transition?

Then it might be time to make a plan for your future.

So much rides on healthy pastoral succession. A bad one can ruin a great legacy, harm a church, and make the new lead pastor a sacrificial lamb.

Or, it can go exceedingly well. 

How do you not mess it up when there's so much at stake?

The Art of Pastoral Succession helps you hit the ground running in your ministry and skip the years of trial-and-error (and failures) that so many pastors face during a transition.

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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.