Why Pastors Should Podcast

Anyone in ministry spends time and energy researching the best forms of communication. From the beginning, we see this trend in the Christian church. Some scholars think the letters of Paul were the first widespread use of leaves of pages (instead of papyrus or scroll) being used for permanent communication, the development of the printing press energized the reformation and John Wesley took advantage of cheap printing and the popularity of leaflets to resource and educate the growing Methodist revival. Closer to our own time, the 20th century found churches and preachers utilizing radio and later television to spread the gospel. Also, many preachers quickly grabbed the idea of using powerpoint presentations to provide visual illustration and aid in listening during sermons.

The church has always been in lockstep with communication technology.

Why Pastors Should Podcast

It is no secret I am a fan of podcasting. I produce and host two shows currently, The Productive Pastor and The Threshing Floor. In addition to this, I listen to around 10-15 podcasts regularly. I believe in the medium.

I think podcastings greatest use in ministry is yet to come. The church is just now beginning to understand the power of podcasting and the benefits it gives.

For many churches, the first foray into podcasting is sermon audio. It makes sense. The success of tape and CD ministries in the past make using podcast technology for sermons a no-brainer.  The Sunday sermon is tailor-made, perfect content for a podcast. It is updated weekly (sometimes more) and people want to listen to it. It is content made once and delivered (on-demand) for the future. As long as you leave it posted! But we need to open our minds a little.

If we are only using podcast and RSS enclosure technology for sermons, we are missing a HUGE tool. 

What other content does your church have (or you personally) that can fit the format?

What about Bible studies and classes?

Listen to this scenario. Someone teaches a Bible study with 4 meetings. The study is over. A few months in the future, several people regret not being part of the class. The teacher (and the group) have already moved to a different book, so it wouldn’t be possible to repeat the lessons. If you had recorded them and uploaded them as a podcast, anyone can always go back and utilize the resource.*

Think about how podcasting can be used to communicate many different things about your ministry.

What if you could consistently record 2 minute vision moments? If you live in an urban commuter environment, you could do a 10 minute synopsis of the sermon every Monday. Do you struggle with multiple announcements? Put them in a podcast! Are you trying to build a unique culture with your church? Check out group podcasts (the Relevant podcast is a great one) to see how you can build internal and external culture with a running conversation between 4-5 people.

You could open up a running conversation about leadership and answering other life issues. This could be specific to your community. Think of the topics which would never really work in a Sunday setting or other class, but you could totally have a conversation about for 15 minutes.

The possibilities are endless for using podcasts in local churches. Podcasting is inexpensive (it can be free) and offers a great return on investment. It is the field preaching of the 21st century!

If you have some questions on how to podcast, I wrote a post for you.

So here is my question…How can you use a podcast in your church?

*Two of my friends are great examples of this: JR Forasteros and Jeremy Sarber.
Bogdan Kipko is another pastor with an amazing podcast also.


How to Get People to Sing in Worship (why repetition matters).

How many times have you been in a worship service and no one is singing?

I think this is especially true in many contemporary services.

People often think there isn’t a way to specifically fix this. Instead, they blindly hope the Holy Spirit will fix a problem they can easily own.

Last year on Facebook, an article on Patheos by Dave Murray began trending. I don’t think the problem specifically applies to men, which Murray identified in his article. It was just part of a growing group of articles going viral talking about the lack of participation in contemporary worship services (and I think it dually applies to traditional worship).

If we aren’t singing in worship…is it really worship?

I think local congregations need to tackle this problem headlong. My team knew we could do better, it would just take some intentional leadership?

How to Get People to Sing in Worship

You have to make it repetitive. Plain and simple.

When I stepped into my current role as the pastor of a contemporary congregation we had over 200 songs in our rotation. We could pick out of any of them every week. It was way too much.

People weren’t singing. A few were, but as a whole we had a participation problem.

Designing worship is a deliberate activity. The songs any congregation sings matter because sung worship is a vocabulary building activity. When people aren’t able to engage in the singing they slowly become mute towards the language of the Gospel.

Over the last 6 months we have only sung around 30 songs. If you figure five or six a Sunday, that isn’t many. This Easter, we sang the same song three weeks in a row.

Why Repetition Matters.

  • We wanted a powerful Easter service. Part of that meant people really singing along with what was important theology for Easter. This meant a couple of new songs. There was no way we could have had great engagement on Easter Sunday with a brand new song. Not just a basic knowledge, but an extreme familiarity.
  • These songs taught and embodied a great view of who God is. When we sang these words over and over throughout Lent and Easter (our Lent wasn’t very Lenty). While this was a bit odd, it made sense for the current group of people and our situation.  What we couldn’t anticipate were issues and concerns which would rise up during Lent and these songs provided a pattern of hope and healing.
  • We built up a better theological vocabulary. We sang songs about the “largeness” of God, the power of Christ and the timeless action  of the creator. We sang words from scripture we probably haven’t in some time.
  • When people are comfortable with the songs, they will sing more. We had around 70 people more than our average Sunday on Easter (almost 50%). What could have been an awkward experience for folks not normally in worship was much easier to participate in, because the people around them were interacting with the sung worship.


If you are unsatisfied with the amount of singing in church, let me suggest trimming things down and repeating songs frequently. It was a semi-conscious experiment over the last 8 months or so and it has contributed tremendously to our times of sung worship.

What I’ve Read in 2014

2014 reading

At the beginning of January I committed to the Empty Shelf challenge. I wanted to do this because I value reading. It is important for my faith, leadership and general self-improvement. Over the last few years I have read hardly anything not religious or church leadership oriented, so the list reflects some of those changes. Some of my favorite books of the past have been historical or biographical. I am also reading more fiction, especially classic southern writers.

I hope this list and the quick reviews can help you in your life and leadership. Feel free to ask any questions about things.

2014 Reading

1. The Two Minute Leader: Brian K Dodd. Brian is a friend and runs an amazing blog condensing leadership practices. His book is a super practical and accessible book.

2. What the Most Successful People Do On The Weekends: Laura Vanderkam. I struggle with patterns of Sabbath. I either go full tilt or marathon Netflix. This quick read really outlines the benefits of planning downtime. It sounds crazy…but it is great.

3. A Disruptive Faith: A.W.Tozer. Sadly, this book fell victim to many of the posthumos works of Tozer. I absolutely am crazy about a few others of his books (The Pursuit of God and Knowledge of the Holy are amazing), but this wasn’t that great. It is a compilation, so it suffers from continuity.

4. Planting Missional Churches: Ed Stetzer. Although it is older, this book is hyper-practical for any stage of church leadership. The religious landscape of America has changed and Stetzer’s words are timely.

5. The Social Church: Justin Wise. I reviewed this book in a full length post. It is great. Instead of task based books, it introduces a theology of communication for the 21st century. Read it.

6. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary is a notorious social media marketer and strategist. He shows the benefits of long practice and gives examples of good and bad social communication in our age.

7. Ten: Sean Gladding. Sean has profound Biblical wisdom he shares through a wonderful narrative style. This book tells a great story about the Ten Commandments.

8. Why Church Buildings Matter: Tim Cool. Have you every thought of the story your building tells? Whether it is new construction, major renovations or just weekly cleaning, our buildings are part of our mission.

9. Manage Your Day-to-day: 99u. I love anything 99u puts out. It is a great creative and productive resource for leaders. This is just one of their books on my list for this year. Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei, every chapter is written by an expert and is easily digestible.

10. Johnny Cash: Robert Hilburn. I have read plenty of Cash biographies (and the autobiographies). None tells this story better than this one. It is inspiring and humbling.

11. Bounty: Scott McKenzie and Kristine Miller. Church finances are something I didn’t learn about in seminary. This book explains 10 best practices of proactive financial management for people in ministry.

12. The Hyperlinked Life: Barna Frames. I am really excited about the Frames series. This book starts a conversation about how the internet and smart devices affect life in the 21st century. It has great infographics and information.

13. Empire of the Summer Moon: S.C.Gwynne. This book is a look at the Comanche Indians, their rise to supremacy in the American West and their eventual destruction by first the Spainish, then the Texans and finally the U.S. Military.

14. Maximize Your Potential: 99u. Another 99u resource, this book focuses on the practices of creative and entrepreneurial leaders.

15. Momentum For Life: Michael Slaughter. I am in a leadership group this year with Michael, so this is just the first of his books I will read this year. He outlines a 5 part strategy to keep you focused in Christ and at your highest level of living.

16. Sabbath As Resistance: Walter Brueggemann. I am preaching a series on Sabbath/Margin this spring. This was part of my research. Great book on the biblical idea of sabbath. The biggest thing I learned…? I really don’t like Brueggemann that much.

17. Dare to Dream: Michael Slaughter. I told you there would be several! This book talks about the importance and power of personal vision in everyone’s life. Great quick read. I’ll be referring to it for a long time.

18. Planting Fast-Growing Churches: Stephen Gray. This book focuses on the strategic design of getting a new church to 200 as quickly as possible. The book focuses on 200 as a mark of vitality and sustainability. The information is somewhat old, but the theory appears to still be sound.

19. Unleashing the Word: Adam Hamilton. Adam is another one of my leadership mentors this year, alongside Mike Slaughter. I will be reading several of his books. This one focuses on the craft of sermon preparation and sermon leadership. It was alright, a little dated, but offered timeless wisdom for the benefit of being creative and well planned.

20. Prayer: By Hans Urs von Balthasar. Balthasar was a 20th Century Catholic theologian. I have been chewing my way through this book on prayer for most of the year. It was an excellent read. He focused on the relationship between the incarnated word and contemplation.

21. Making Ideas Happen: Scott Belsky. Yet another great book from the 99u and Behance team. This one focuses on overcoming obstacles related to vision and reality. Great read.

22. Never Eat Alone: Keith Ferrazzi
Keith is a master networker and strategic planner. Anyone who is in the relationship business needs to read this book. Keith shows how important networking and relationships are to many different industries and how you can do a better job at them.

Sermon Preview: Casting Crowns


Did you ever build a fort as a kid? I had a little shack I constructed out of old fence boards. It stayed up for several years and was one of my favorite places. I even stayed the night out in it a few times.

As an adult, I even still fantasize about having a special place. I catch myself researching building sheds and cabins out in the woods. One of my favorite special places is a tiny prayer shack in the middle of the woods outside the Abbey of Gethsemani.

We want special places because we can create special things. Special memories, moments, rituals and gatherings.

Worship should be a created special place.

As we are winding up our study of the disciplines, we come to one of my favorite topics and scripture passages. This week we are going to be talking about worship. To do that, we will use Revelation 4 as our focus passage. This is my absolutely favorite chapter of scripture in the Bible.

Then as I looked, I saw a door standing open in heaven, and the same voice I had heard before spoke to me like a trumpet blast. The voice said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must happen after this.” And instantly I was in the Spirit,and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. Twenty-four thrones surrounded him, and twenty-four elders sat on them. They were all clothed in white and had gold crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning and the rumble of thunder. And in front of the throne were seven torches with burning flames. This is the sevenfold Spirit of God. In front of the throne was a shiny sea of glass, sparkling like crystal.

In the center and around the throne were four living beings, each covered with eyes, front and back. The first of these living beings was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had a human face; and the fourth was like an eagle in flight. Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty—
the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Whenever the living beings give glory and honor and thanks to the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever), the twenty-four elders fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne (the one who lives forever and ever). And they lay their crowns before the throne and say,

“You are worthy, O Lord our God,
to receive glory and honor and power.
For you created all things,
and they exist because you created what you pleased.”

Revelation is the perfect place to build a biblical idea of worship. Most of the book is worship. We usually don’t get to realize that because we rarely open up Revelation.

This passage shows us three key things about worship and creating special place.

1. Worship gives us the place to learn about the character of God.
2. Worship gives us the place to see who God is.
3. Worship gives us the place to honor the God we know.

See you this Sunday!

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.

Sermon Preview: The Power of Confession

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When I was 6 my Mom washed my mouth out with soap because I said a dirty word.

I tried to tell her I learned it from a bathroom wall…but the context I used the word in was a little too correct. Mom knew a 1st grader didn’t really understand the exclamatory proper usage of a cuss word out of sheer ignorance.

There are a few words many church folk would consider dirty. Not because they are “bad”, but they just don’t fit in the nice, proper version of Christianity we are comfortable with. Fasting can be a dirty word (probably because we don’t want to do it).

Confession is a dirty word for several reasons. It might be a Protestant hangup or just unwillingness to admit to what you know isn’t right. No matter the excuse, confession matters.

This Sunday we are talking about confessions integral place in the Christian life and it’s necessity for any move of God.

This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:4-8,14-15

In any mighty move of God, confession is at the beginning.

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Confession is the prerequisite for everything God wants to do in our life.

Confession isn’t what we think it is. Yes, there is an openness to our own sin and faultiness. The openness of confession doesn’t end there (thankfully). Confession is an open admittance of who is in power.

Join us tomorrow in worship as we think about how confession needs to fit in our life.

What is a sermon preview?
Sermon previews are released on Friday’s. They are to give YOU a short glimpse of what the conversation is going to be like on Sunday morning. On Monday, the preview is updated with some discussion questions, scripture guide and an mp3 of the sermon. I do these for 2 reasons. The first is so God can continue working in your life throughout the week. The second is for you to share this with a friend. I invite and encourage you to share the preview on Facebook/Twitter and through email.