The Top Ten Most-Read Blog Posts of 2018

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2018 was a big year for almost anyone in leadership. I can’t remember a time when things seemed to be changing faster, which actually makes leadership even 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 4.5 million times by leaders around the world in 2018, making 2018 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 2018, here you go.

Below are the Top 10 most-read blog posts I wrote in 2018.

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.

I include a link to each post below, along with a quote from the main article.

Here we go….

church trends

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 7 disruptive church trends I see defining conversation and action in 2018.

Too many church leaders are perfectly equipped to reach a world that no longer exists. Click To Tweet

2. 7 Things That Will Drive Future Church Growth

church growth

Lots of leaders still like to bad mouth church growth and pretend they’re not interested, but any time I write about church growth, tens of thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of leaders read.

I think church growth matters simply because mission matters and people matter.

Among growing churches are the early clues to what future church growth looks like.

Here are 7 factors that will drive almost all future church growth.

Among growing churches are the early clues to what future church growth looks like. Click To Tweet

3. 5 Reasons Charismatic Churches Are Growing (And Attractional Churches Are Past Peak)


Although this wasn’t the #1 most-read post of 2018, it was absolutely the most talked about post I experienced personally. I could hardly step into a room this fall without someone saying “Hey…about that post about charismatic churches growing…”

Here are 5 reasons more charismatic churches are growing, and attractional churches are moving past peak in the current culture.

Churches who love the method more than the mission will die. Click To Tweet

4. 5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Church Is Geared Toward Insiders, Not Outsiders


The truth is there’s a gravitational pull inside almost every church to sacrifice the church’s mission by catering to the church’s members.

And while you can’t ignore the needs of your members, there’s a strange paradox that’s true about spiritual maturity: the best way to become spiritually mature is to stop focusing on your needs and begin focusing on Christ and others. Some church leaders drown in the sink-hole of trying to satisfy the escalating demands of their unpleasable members while they watch the real mission go up in flames.

Worse, others think they’re geared to outsiders when in reality, they’re not. At least not really. They’ve given in to the subtle but relentless pull of the needs of insiders.

With that in mind, here are 5 tell-tale signs your church is geared to insiders, not outsiders, despite your best intentions.

In an attempt to please everyone, many church leaders please no one. Click To Tweet

5. 5 Specific Ways The Current Approach to Church Seems Badly Outdated


One of the reasons so many churches struggle these days is that the way we do church is badly outdated.

Culture is changing rapidly, which means people are changing rapidly. If you want to reach people, that probably also means you need to change your approach rapidly.

That freaks out a lot of Christians who think that because the message never changes, nothing should change.

There’s a huge difference between changing the message and changing the method.

In the church’s case, the historic message doesn’t change. But the methods have to.

Here’s why: if you don’t change your methods, eventually no one will hear your message.

I have a sinking feeling if we sat down with young adults and asked them why we do things the way we do, we’d hear an earful.

As the pace of change accelerates around us with every passing month, here are 5 ways the way we do church appears ever-more outdated.

Just because the message never changes, doesn't mean nothing should change Click To Tweet

6. Leadership and Suicide: When Ending It Seems Like the Only Way Out


This is the hardest post I wrote all year.

But in light of the widespread dialogue that’s emerged over around Andrew’ Stoecklein’s passing in August 2018, I wrote about a subject we largely avoid because like many of you, I was so saddened to learn about the suicide of a leader who by every appearance had so much going well: a wife who loved him, three sons, a great church and a future.

The subject is personal for me, because in the summer of 2006, my pain was deep enough to lead me to contemplate suicide.

Let me say it again before we dive into more words: maybe you’ve thought the only way through your pain is to end your pain. It’s not.

Read the post here.

Maybe you’ve thought the only way through your pain is to end your pain. It’s not. Click To Tweet

7. 5 Hard Truths About Healthy Church Growth

healthy church growth

I imagine some church leaders can’t even have a  simple conversation with some of their staff, volunteers or elder board about church growth without it becoming volatile.

Externally, most of us have colleagues who have strong opinions for or against. It can lead to a very frustrating dialogue. Or none at all.

I hope these truths will hopefully help frame the discussion in less emotional, more realistic terms and hopefully help your team and your colleagues get closer to the same page.

Maybe we can agree more and better work on the mission together.

Here are 5 hard truths about healthy church growth.

Just because a church is growing doesn't mean it's healthy. Click To Tweet

8. Why Bishop Michael Curry’s Sermon Brought Down the House at the Royal Wedding

Michael Curry

When was the last time you heard a  sermon talked about like Bishop Michael Curry’s at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle? No…I can’t remember either.

Why did Curry’s sermon connect so well? As Curry and his friend, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, both mentioned in this fascinating interview, it was “after all, just the Gospel.”

And yet, when something connects so well, it’s a good idea to understand why it connected.

Here are some thoughts. In addition to preaching the Gospel during that message, Curry did at least five things that really connected with people in the room and around the world. 

it’s a good idea for preachers to take note. First of all, it’s hard to repeat something that went well if you don’t understand it. Second, everything Curry did is learnable and transferable…there’s no reason you can’t do it too.

So with that in mind, here are 5 things the Bishop did that helped make his message ring out loud and clear.

When you read a talk, or read your notes, people think it’s coming from your head, not your heart. Click To Tweet

9. 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Preach Other People’s Sermons


Never have we had access to so many other people’s messages. And never have we felt more pressure in delivering our own.

Almost monthly I hear of pastors (most of whom will never make the headlines) who are losing their job because of plagiarism—using someone else’s content but passing it off as their own.

That’s just sad on about 100 levels.

Here are 5 reasons you shouldn’t preach other people’s sermons.

Preachers, write your own stuff. And if you didn’t, tell people. Click To Tweet

10. Want to Reach New People? These 10 Habits Set Your Church Back


This post was a guest post from my friend, Tony Morgan.

He and his team have served in 100+ churches each year, and they’ve started to notice some patterns.

What are the most common offenses?

Keep in mind, these are only issues for churches that actually want to reach new people…

One last thing before I get to the list: Many of these issues show up in the “secret shopper” reports for large churches just as often as in small churches.

Here are the Top 10—the biggest issues with the weekend that we see the most often.

Put 75% of people on the platform in the same age range as the people you're trying to reach. Click To Tweet

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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.