I get asked an interesting question every now and then and it’s something we all get asked in some form or another. It used to be “What are you reading?” But recently it has become “What podcasts are you listening to?” Rather than give you a list of specific podcasts, let me give you of 5 types of podcasts I think would be helpful, with the occasional example thrown in. Starting with one from each category might be helpful as we look at being healthy people and healthy churches.
- Podcasts that feed your soul. These would be podcasts that help us focus on our relationship with God, which should be our priority. Here are some examples:
a) Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership with Ruth Haley Barton focuses on spiritual practices and rhythms.
b) Daily devotional or Prayer podcasts. While I haven’t found many I like, there are numerous podcasts that have daily Bible readings or liturgical prayers.
c) A sermon from a gifted preacher. But if we are going to listen to a sermon, let’s make a deal: If you are a preacher, don’t listen to someone that you can steal content from because the idea here is to nourish your soul, not just get content. If you are not a preacher, don’t compare your pastor to the one you listen to, because this is for you and not your pastor.
- Podcasts that spark new ideas. In this category, I am thinking primarily of Christian leadership type podcasts. My preference are ones that interview leaders from various churches as opposed to one person sharing content. I like to hear and learn from different voices. You may not agree with everything you hear and it may not all apply to your ministry or church, but hopefully it will get you thinking about how to apply good principles and practices. Again, there are many of these types of podcasts like: 200 Churches that is geared towards helping smaller churches or Rainer on Leadership that focuses on church health and research. These are based in the US, so if you are looking for Canadian voices try The Canadian Church Leaders Podcast or The New Leaf Project from our friends over at the New Leaf Network.
- Podcasts that make you think. This would include podcasts that are different from what you would normally listen to and that can work two ways. 1) I previously cited two distinct Canadian podcasts, each with a different “voice”, so if you normally listen to one, listen to the other one in order to be challenged. 2) Simply to listen to something outside the church world that will help you look at different topics and help you expand your thought life. I know there are many kinds of history podcasts or science podcasts, try something like that. Or something like Freakanomics that looks at mundane topics in a unique way and runs thought experiments. We should all try being open to things that help us think in different ways, just to stay sharp.
- Good Stories, Questions or Communicators. It helps all of us, not just preachers, to listen to people who are good at communicating. We can learn a lot about how we can share our stories, or how we can ask good questions. A preaching podcast might be one example of this, listening to a gifted communicator share truth in a compelling way never hurts, but the point is really to find someone who is gifted at telling a story and learning from them.
- Something fun. Life is not only about work and ministry. We need to learn to relax and enjoy recreational activities. If you like sports, listen to a good podcast about your favorite sport or team. Find something that makes you laugh, or dive deep into a hobby, just find something that helps you unwind for a bit.
So there you go, five types of podcasts I would recommend. At first glance, it may not seem very “church health” centered, but feeding our souls and minds and being spurred on to new and creative ideas can only help us as we look to bring the Kingdom of God to our communities in new and effective ways.
If you have recommendations for a good listen, let me know. I am always looking for a good listen.
Leadership Development Director, the Free Methodist Church in Canada.