"Podcasts fit into our experience of modern life, which makes them a great medium for Christian formation."
Have you noticed that everyone seems to be listening to podcasts these days? Podcasts have become a major part of popular culture in the last few years, from the break-out success of Serial to niche community podcasts.
Listening to a podcast couldn't be more convenient. With a smartphone, you can listen, learn, and laugh in the car or on public transportation, while doing laundry or shopping for groceries. Podcasts fit into our experience of modern life, which makes them a great medium for Christian formation.
Using Podcasts as a Part of Your Christian Formation Plan
- Host a Podcast Club. Assign the podcast for the month, and members come together to discuss the episodes from a faith perspective. Who has time to read a whole book?
- Encourage individuals to listen to a weekly lectionary podcast. Released the week before, this type of podcast can set the stage with pertinent information, so members are more tuned in to hear the readings and sermon on the following Sunday.
- Use podcasts as supplemental material for adult formation or church-wide initiatives. If you are doing a teaching series on church history, you could use some of the free and high-quality lecture series available. Or, if you are reading the whole bible together, you might recommend podcasts to listen along with as you move through various scripture.
- Set up an online discussion group to talk about episodes of a specific podcast as they are released. This could be an especially good way of keeping in contact with your recent high school grads or other young adults.
Below are some recommendations for specifically Christian podcasts, but almost any podcast can be fodder for meaningful conversations about faith. I have provided links to the podcasts’ homepages, but the best way to listen is by using a podcast app and searching for the shows you’d like to listen to. As new episodes are released, they’ll be added to your playlist.
Episode: Pick one! Some are better than others but there are very few duds.
Why this podcast? The Irreverends take the lectionary for the week and make it come to life. They dig into what’s going on in the background and do the exegetical work (Tim) while making it connect to everyday life (Gini) and make it fun to listen to. It’s like listening to two very animated clergy friends have the conversation you want to have about the lectionary.
Episode: Whatever the daily episode is! They use the scripture of the day.
Why this podcast? This podcast is a framework for prayer, not commentary on it. It’s short, comes out daily, and has a huge daily following. This is an initiative of the Jesuits, and the accompanying app and website have wonderful resources on Ignatian Spirituality.
2FAB (Two Feminists Annotate the Bible)
Episode: Whichever you like; this is one of my recent favorites.
Why this podcast? This an example of walking all the way through scripture and encouraging listeners to walk with them as they do so. It teaches and comments on scripture through a feminist hermeneutic. Sometimes, the hosts run seasonal bonus episodes that reflect the church year.
Why this podcast? This is a hugely popular (millions of people listen a month) podcast about faith. It’s four evangelical-famous people of different stripes, mostly talking to each other.
Episode: Season Four: Inspiration: The Madness of Mr. Crouch -- with John Green (Book 4, Chapter 28)
Why this podcast? These are faith conversations about something other than faith. But it’s a great example of faith-filled exegesis, and how amazing those conversations can be (and are great to listen to).
Episode: Start with the episode that explains this Episcopal Rule of Life, Spiritual Practices
Why this podcast? It’s about the Way of Love! This would be a great supplement to the Episcopal Church's Way of Love curriculum.
If you’re not quite done…
There are many more wonderful podcasts out there waiting to be discovered. But here’s a few more worth mentioning:
What podcasts do you love that we missed? Let us know in the comments.
The Rev. Becky Zartman is a bi-vocational priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. She is the Episcopal Missioner to Georgetown University and also specializes in Christian formation, with an emphasis on stewardship, welcoming and evangelism.