As I have said before, I don’t think leaders should lead in isolation. We should always be learning and growing and leading with others. I still think there is tremendous value in doing this in-person with other leaders. But I have also found a lot of benefit in free resources available online.
Over the last few years I have come across a number of blogs and podcasts that have been helpful to me, particularly in pastoral leadership. These have quickly become invaluable tools for me in ministry, and I think they should be a part of every minister’s tool kit. But, it can be hard to find blogs and podcasts with consistent, quality content. So, here is a list of the ones I engage with most often.
I have been blogging off and on since 2004, and in all these years I have come across some great (and not-so-great) blogs by other Christian leaders. My time is limited these days, so I’ve had to whittle down the number of bloggers I follow. Here is a short list of those blogs that I read most regularly, and why.
- Thom S. Rainer (thomrainer.com) – Dr. Rainer is the CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources and a former pastor and seminary professor. Thom has written many books about church leadership, organization, and practice. He blogs regularly on ministry trends and their impact and frequently answers questions that pastors ask him from the trenches. I try to read every new post that he writes.
- Carey Nieuwhof (careynieuwhof.com) – Carey is a Canadian author and lead pastor of Connexus Church, which is a North Point Partner. He writes regularly about leadership practices and how to overcome leadership challenges in the church.
- Tim Challies (challies.com) – Tim is an author and former pastor, who has been a staple of the blogosphere for many years. He writes from a very overt Calvinistic theological perspective, which sometimes puts me at odds with him. But he has a great deal of wisdom and writes regularly about living our the Christian faith in daily life. His posts on family are some of the best I’ve read.
- Ron Edmonson (ronedmondson.com) – Ron is a pastor from my old hometown region of Lexington, Kentucky. He has a huge following online and writes regularly about leadership, family, and the church.
- Michael Hyatt (michaelhyatt.com) – Michael Hyatt is not a ministry leader, but he is a Christian who leads in business. Michael is the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and has written a number of books about publishing and personal/professional development. He writes regularly about personal development, productivity, leadership, and influence from a Christian perspective.
- Lawrence W. Wilson (lawrencewilson.com) – Lawrence Wilson is a Wesleyan pastor from my state of Indiana. He writes with the purpose of encouraging pastors. I’ve gained much form his insights into complex ministry situations, preaching, and pastoral leadership.
- Dave Jacobs (davejacobs.net) – Dave Jacobs has the special honor (or dishonor) of also being my clergy coach. He writes to encourage and inspire the pastors and other leaders of small churches. In the short time I have known Dave, he has offered me great perspective and wisdom from a lifetime of pastoral ministry and ministry coaching. The insights he shares on his blog often really hit home with me.
I only started listening to podcasts about 2 years ago. Now, I drop them on my phone when I am in the office, and listen to them anytime I am on the road or working out. I enjoy a wide variety of content, and I only have two rules for choosing new podcasts: 1) they have to be helpful to me personally in some way, and 2) the host(s) have to be easy to listen to. You will notice some familiar names from the blog list, because these folks are using all the media types they can to get their message out there. All of these are available through iTunes, and many through the web. Here are my current favorites and what they offer.
- The Productive Pastor – My good friend Chad Brooks hosts this podcast about productivity in pastoral ministry. This show is the reason I started listening to podcasts, and it is still a staple for me. Chad is a church planter in Louisiana, and regularly shared great insights and resources that he has found help him stay productive in the midst of the chaos that is pastoral ministry. I have changed my own personal practice in several ways, because of the wisdom gleaned here. You should really give this podcast a listen! Chad also hosts the Threshing Floor Podcast with some friends from seminary.
- Rainer on Leadership – Thom Rainer offers the same great insights you will find on his blog in podcast format. He posts episodes about twice each week, and they run for just 20 minutes or so, which makes them great for a shorter commute. I listen to this show every week.
- Art of the Sermon – This is a fairly new podcast that is produced by a United Methodist pastor, who created the show as part of his ministry. The host has a unique format that includes an interview show at the beginning of each month, followed by a mid-month show were he adds extra commentary and clips from the interviews that didn’t make the first cut. I’ve been listening since the launch, and this podcast has quickly become one of my favorites.
- 200churches Podcast – This podcast exists to encourage pastors of churches with less than 200 in attendance (about 95% of all churches). I started listening to Jeff Keaty and Jonny Craig before I became a pastor. I knew that I would soon be heading into ministry in a small church context and quickly found them to offer wisdom, insight, and humor about all the things pastors encounter on a daily basis. If you are a past of a 200 church and aren;t already listening, do yourself a favor and start today.
- Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast – Andy Stanley (son of well-known pastor Charles Stanley) is the lead pastor of Northpoint Community Churches. If you don’t know who he is, you’ve been living in a cave. Andy has written some of the most read contemporary books about preaching and leadership available, and has a wealth of information that he shares in this podcast about leading ministry teams well. His tagline is “Helping leaders go further faster” and I think he does that well. His podcast format is usually a short 20-20 minutes and comes out monthly.
- WesleyCast – This podcast is the work of three ordained elders in the United Methodist Church. The hosts talk about things of interest to UMC leaders and occasionally intersperse interviews with great UMC leaders. And they sign off every interview by asking about favorite Charles Wesley hymns.
- Sermonsmith – John Chandler started the Sermonsmith Podcast as part of his bi-vocational ministry, and because he is a self-proclaimed geek for hearing about and understanding the processes that pastors use to develop sermons each week. The podcast uses an interview format to share the context and process that pastors from a wide demographic use each week to expound the scriptures for the people under their spiritual care.
- The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast – In this podcast, Carey mixes personal insight with interviews with other ministry leaders. He has had an awesome list of leaders on the show since he started it last year, and you’ll find him talking about a wide range of topics from technology use in the church, to church planting challenges, to leadership team dynamics, and so on.
- This is Your life with Michael Hyatt – This podcast is filled with rich insights from the business world and practical applications for your business or church and your personal development as a leader.
- The Sword and Laser – This one is just for fun. I love science fiction and fantasy books, and stumbled across this podcast a couple of years ago. The hosts, Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt, blend also run the largest sci-fi/fantasy book club on Goodreads. They blend great interviews with best-selling authors with funny commentary and analysis of the monthly book club picks. I also personally think they have the best voices in the business. I love this podcast and never miss an episode. It helps me to think more creatively.
- This American Life – This is a newer show for me. I’ve only been listening for a few months, but find it very intriguing, especially on those long drives. This podcast is all about stories. They pick a theme for each show, then tell three captivating stories about the theme. I find the stories absolutely captivating, and I’m not alone. The show is also broadcast on public radio and has over 2.2 million regular listeners. This podcast has helped me think about the way we tell stories, and how we can do so in ways that really connect with our audience.
Ok, those last two podcasts aren’t ministry oriented, but I have gleaned so much from them I had to include them in the list. If you try any of these, let me know what you think in the comments. Also, if you have other recommendations, I am always looking for a few more high-quality blogs and podcasts about ministry leadership and development to follow.