Podcast Your Bread Upon the Waters
“This is the first ever—and maybe the last ever—Quarantiny podcast, which is a tiny bit of encouragement for days of societal quarantine.” Thus began our first pastoral podcast on March 16, 2020. When I said it might be the last ever podcast, I absolutely meant it. Launching a new podcast was a somewhat desperate attempt to remain connected to the church family during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was skeptical that anyone would care, given that just about everyone with a computer and fifty bucks for a microphone appears to be podcasting these days (especially bearded men who drink expensive coffee).
Our format is pretty simple. The three staff pastors sit around a microphone and begin each episode with three to five minutes of banter about whatever random topic comes up (the pronunciation of ‘opossum’, men wearing jogging leggings, and the like). I then introduce a topic for the day, such as congregational singing, family discipleship, anxiety, finances, heaven or suffering, and we spend 20-30 minutes discussing the topic from a biblical worldview. I email out some possible questions to the other pastors in advance so that we can each jot some notes down in preparation, but once we hit the record button it’s a free-flowing conversation—with the helpful ability to edit afterwards if needed.
Despite my initial doubts, the Quarantiny podcast has been a surprisingly effective tool for ministry within our local church family. After three months of podcasting, I’ve found numerous benefits for the life and health of the church.
In a world of ubiquitous earphones, podcasting is a way to deliver biblical content to the on-the-go congregation. The podcast has allowed us to take a Christ-centered world view to the flock where they are, rather than limit our teaching to those who attend our scheduled church programs. Podcasting is not the total discipleship package, but it is a user-friendly way to form a biblical world view as people drive to work, exercise or fold laundry.
A second benefit of the podcast has been the ability to have deeper conversations with the flock as we’ve reached out to them by phone. Those who listen often want to talk about one of the topics in a recent episode. The podcast provides more meaningful content for informal discussion than typical small-talk. We’ve been pleased to receive follow-up emails and texts from the church in response to what they’ve heard on the podcast with very practical discipleship questions such as “How do I battle anxiety in faith?” and “Where should I start reading the Bible if I’m a beginner?”
Nuance through dialogue
The format of a podcast allows for dialogue among fellow pastors, and that gives nuance to how we apply biblical principles to our lives. When one pastor says, “I’d never let my kids miss church to play sports on Sunday,” the other can push back on that statement, and help give some clarification to what faithful Christian living might look like in some possible exceptions. When grappling with the topic of saving money for retirement, there’s room for divergence in views and some variety in application that can be done in faith.
Pastors have personalities
Podcasting has shown the church that the pastoral staff like each other. We joke together, we hang out on the weekends, we know about each other’s lives, and we laugh with and at one another. The podcast burns off some of the ‘halo effect’ that occurs on Sunday mornings when we pastors are up the front leading from a platform. Through Quarantiny, our church family has been able to see what I had previously thought was obvious: that we’re quite average humans with imperfect homes, who enjoy arguing about who is the greatest basketball player of all time and who think it’s funny when a bird poops on someone’s computer. Of course, there is a danger that a podcast could be an expression of pastoral vanity or platform building. But, if it’s done with a sincere desire to shepherd the flock in a spirit of brotherly love, the banter amongst pastors can be a simple tool that God uses to help pastors become all things to all people.
Our podcast is not particularly professional, nor is it profound, but it’s been a surprisingly helpful tool for pastoring a local flock. If you’re looking to build a platform and make a name for yourself, then I don’t recommend starting a podcast (see also: The Tower of Babel). But if you’re looking for an effective way to get biblical content to a local congregation, then it may be worth the minimal cost and small learning curve to start a podcast for your church family.