Reshaping the Church

The surge of Christian podcasts

Posted February 27, 2024

by Jenna Mindel

Photo by Cottonbro Studio for Pexels

Podcasts present an opportunity for the body of Christ to speak about topics that matter to Christians — beyond the time limit of a Sunday morning sermon. The accessibility of podcasting allows Christians to easily spend time parsing out difficult questions and exploring different perspectives.

No longer do people have to walk into a physical church building to hear the gospel and a sermon. Considering Sunday service attendance in the U.S. amongst Protestants is down to 40%, according to Gallup, podcasts are an opportunity for people to engage with Christianity.

While podcasts are supplemental to — not a replacement for — authentic, in-person Christian communities, they are another way to reach people in the digital age. With the average person spending over three hours a day on their phones, according to Crossriver Therapy, it would be amiss for Christians not to meet people at the place they go every day — online.

Podcasts are the soundtrack of many people’s days, whether they are driving, making dinner or doing chores. About half of U.S. adults have listened to a podcast in the past 12 months, according to Pew Research.

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About one in five podcast listeners are avid listeners, meaning that they listen to podcasts every day. This medium gained popularity when content creators began recording audio and posting it online in the early 2000s, but it did not take off until around 2014 when radio shows, like “This American Life” suddenly became available on podcasting platforms, according to Descript.

Since then, podcasting has become a medium accessible to more than just news stations and public figures. Anyone with a phone or computer can record audio and upload it to the web.

Since the rise of podcasts began about 10 years ago, many Christians have entered into the podcast industry. There are a wide variety of topics that Christians have covered, with some shows focused on Christian Living, like “Woah That’s Good with Sadie Robertson Huff,” or others focused more on theology and studying the Bible, like the “BibleProject Podcast.”

Podcasts are also a medium for Christian influencers to discuss topics that people ask them on their social media accounts. “Christ with Coffee on Ice with Ally Yost” is a great example of this. It is hosted by Christian influencer, Ally Yost, whose audience is Gen Z Christians, according to the podcast’s description.

Yost speaks uniquely to the questions her audience has, questions like “Is Manifestation Real?” and “Why am I Single?” By taking the time to talk them through and including her personal experience, she educates her audience on how to have a thoughtful Christian perspective on cultural topics.

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Podcasts have become a popular medium for the body of Christ to explore what it means to live under a Christian worldview and have proven to be a valuable resource to that end.

A podcast that captivated Christians in 2021 by Christianity Today is The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, where host Mike Cosper delved into the complexities that went into the leadership, founding and fall of a Seattle church. Cosper critically analyzed the leadership of Mark Driscoll, a well-known pastor and the allegations of sinful behavior and church member abuse against him.

Christians can use podcasting as a platform to discuss nuanced and difficult topics because the medium lends to discussion and thoughtful engagement. Particularly for problems like church abuse and hurt, podcasting offers a medium where believers can discuss these topics at length.

Encouraging spiritual engagement beyond the pulpit, Christian podcasts are successful examples of God’s Word transcending into mediums that are applicable to our culture today.

Jenna Mindel is a senior journalism student at Biola University who is passionate about storytelling. Originally from Washington State, but now lives in California, she hates the rain but loves coffee, books, long walks (preferably on the beach), podcasts and any chance she gets to share a meal with her friends. Jenna hopes to shed light on meaningful work the Church is doing around the world as a journalist.