I used to think I would never enjoy listening to radio shows because I was raised on TV. Who has the stamina, time, or enough coffee to listen to a couple of guys, or even one guy, ramble on and on about anything? Why listen to Mike & Mike on the radio when you can watch their show on ESPN2? Why listen to sermons when you can watch them on Vimeo, Youtube, or a church website?
My addiction to the screen and video came to a screeching halt when I was introduced to the world of podcasts. I’m extremely late to the party, but podcasts have become my new obsession. Other than the occasional The Office binge on Netflix, I really don’t watch that much TV anymore. I have fully entered the world of podcasts, and I’m not going back.
Shows I used to watch regularly, like First Take, PTI, and The Herd, I now stream through podcast. I’ve found my sports intake to be much more satisfying without commercials or distracting video footage. Sure, if the hosts of any given sports podcast are talking about an awesome game or play, I’d love to see the highlights. But for the most part, listening to sports debate and discussion has become increasingly enjoyable in the form of podcast.
There is a therapeutic element to podcast listening. Podcasts seem to be more engaging, and people who do it right are in many ways more entertaining than other forms of media. I love listening to The Briefing with Al Mohler on my way to work. I can’t imagine Mondays and Thursdays without listening to Joe and Jimmy with Doctrine and Devotion. Podcasts have become a part of the rhythm of my life. As I listen, I’m able to unwind or pause to engage a particular cultural, biblical, or theological issue.
I also find podcasts to be sanctifying. Solid Christian podcasts are just another means the Lord is using to grow his people into the likeness of Christ. To be sure, there are many bogus and unhelpful Christian podcasts to say the least. But, there are also greatly edifying podcasts that are well worth your time.
If you have not dipped your toes into the pool of podcasts, I would encourage you to jump on in! The water’s fine! In podcasts, I believe you will find superior satisfaction to TV, as well as a therapeutic and edifying listening experience. To help you get started in the world of podcasts, I want to list some of my favorites. This list does not include all of the podcasts I listen to, but instead lists out my absolute favorites. I listen to each of these podcasts every day new episodes are released.
I would say this is currently my favorite podcast. They deal with biblical, theological, cultural, and ecclesial issues from a Reformed Baptist perspective. Joe Thorn is lead pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles, Illinois. He is a gifted preacher, teacher, and author who brings tons of experience, wisdom, and knowledge to D&D. His co-host, Jimmy Fowler, is an elder-candidate at Redeemer Fellowship. Jimmy also brings great insight to the show. I love the way Joe and Jimmy bring together humor, candor, humility, and conviction. I highly recommend giving these guys a listen.
2. Word Matters
Hosted by Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax, Word Matters deals with biblical and theological dilemmas. I’ve never come away from a Word Matters podcast without learning something. It is an incredibly insightful and practical podcast. At times it can be a little heady, but it’s solid content. If you love tough questions, Word Matters is for you!
3. The Briefing
Al Mohler is one of the most important evangelical voices of the 21st century. His podcast is a daily commentary on news and events from a Christian worldview. Mohler can at times soar high above our heads, but his comments on current events helps Christians better funnel what is happening in the world through a Christian worldview.
Questions answered by John Piper. It doesn’t get better than this. What I love about the way Piper responds to each question is the way he processes. Even if I end up disagreeing with his conclusion, I always learn something along the way. The clarity and intentionality with which he speaks is edifying and refreshing in itself.
R.C. Sproul’s Renewing Your Mind examines biblical and theological issues. Sproul is always exegetically careful and theologically insightful.
I listen to many other podcasts, especially sports podcasts and Serial. But among the Christian podcasts I listen to, these five stand out from the pack.
Do you listen to podcasts? If so, what are your favorites? How have they helped you learn and grow?
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.