Podcasts for Pastoral Studies

For the last couple of years, I have had a new strategy for ongoing learning.  It has been a new “secret sauce” for staying up to date and being aware of hot topics of the day.

In the course of my duties, it is not uncommon to have an hour or two of driving just to get to the location I am concerned with that day.

On these drives, I listen to podcasts.  I started with some classic books recorded as audio books which were free in that format.  From that humble start, I launched deeper into podcasts.  It became multifaceted though when I found educational, leadership and ministry podcasts.

Podcasts are a great tool, but they also have a learning curve.  So let me fast track you, as to how podcasts can be a great resource. The three points I am about to cover are: how to get the audio files delivered to you, what to listen to, and listening strategies for maximum impact.

Getting the podcast delivered to you can be done on a phone, computer, or tablet.  I used my phone so that I could listen to it in my car. This simply required downloading a free app sometimes called a pod catcher.  On my Iphone the obvious choice was Apple Podcasts.  For other phones or computers you have a multitude of options.  Remember it should be free and the podcasts should also be free, if that is not the case, keep looking.

Once you have the app, then search for the podcasts you want to listen to.  There will be millions of options so just browsing is not your best option.  You will need to search by criteria to narrow it down.  I will suggest a list later on, but when you find one, subscribe to it.  From that point out, every time they release a new podcast it will automatically show up on your phone. For my purposes I downloaded the podcasts so they were stored on my phone until I was done listening to it.  If you are going to listen where there is a great data signal, this may not be necessary.

The new podcasts will appear automatically, and after you listen to them, they will be deleted automatically.  You can either set the podcaster to download them automatically or, as I do to save space, you can pick and choose which ones to download.  Since my phone is not loud enough to always overcome road noise, and since my car doesn’t have blue tooth, I bought a simple blue tooth speaker that can sit beside me in the car.

Let me also give you some advice on which podcasts to subscribe to.  Right now I have 13 different podcasts I am subscribed to.  Five of them are now, or have been in the past, a part of the Lifeway Leadership Podcast Network.  These are pretty good and are directly related to my denomination.  My favorite ministry leadership podcast though is Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.  He only puts out new material once a month, but his quality of content eclipses all the others.

I also have 5 fiction short story podcasts.  Just like you read for both education and fun, I listen to both.  Then I have two serial fiction podcasts, which tell longer stories a little at a time, one of which – The Classic Tales Podcast  – focusses on classic literature.   The other is just a quirky fun group of serials called Decoder Ring Theatre.

Finally let me give you some advice on how and when to listen to these podcasts.  The ultimate answer is whenever it works for you, but here are some tips.  For some podcasts, it is better to look at the list of previous episodes and download an entire series at a time and then ‘binge’ listen all at once.  This is especially true of the classic literature.

Be careful of listening in heavy traffic because you will miss important stuff, either in your driving or your listening.  But I find that listening in light traffic is fine.  Podcasts keep me awake far better than music, so I will make sure that I have enough material to keep me covered for longer trips.   I will avoid listening to content that I will disagree with so strongly as to agitate my driving.  For this reason, there is not a single political podcast in my library.

There you have it.  Podcasts are a tool I use for staying up to date in ministry and more.

If this has been helpful or if you have other recommendations for a podcast worth hearing I would enjoy hearing from you.