Podcasting is the new blogging, or so it’s been said.

And there’s a strong case to be made. I know I struggle to find time to sit and read all the blog posts I stumble across each week. It’s hard to find time to sit and read without being distracted by other things we need to do, or “need” to do (I’m looking at you, Facebook.)

Podcasts, however, are exceptional at sliding productivity into those otherwise idle moments. Driving in the car, doing yard work, grocery shopping, going for a walk, run, or bike ride. Any time you can pop in some earbuds or turn up the speakers becomes time to learn, grown, and think.

Many podcasts provide a chance for me to think and process through my current challenges. They massage my brain and loosen up inspiration for solutions that have alluded me. In my drive time in particular, I find having a podcast on provokes more productive thought. Plus it stirs new thoughts I’m unlikely to have. It’s like hanging out with passionate people and listening to their thoughts. That’s especially helpful for people like me who have very few coworkers to collaborate with.

With that in mind, I wanted to share 6 of my favorite podcasts. I believe they each make me a better youth pastor (I’ll explain how in the descriptions) even though only one is specifically youth ministry related. Here are my 6 favorite podcasts.

 

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Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

Carey, the founding pastor of Connexus church near Toronto, does a great job of gathering insightful guests to discuss leadership. The podcast description reads, “Ever wish you could have a conversation with some of the top leaders in ministry today? Well, that’s what my new leadership podcast is designed to bring you.” And he truly does. Frequently I find Carey asking a question of his guest that makes me say, “I was just thinking that!”

Why it’s good for Youth Workers: This show gathers together an impressive and eclectic array of ministry voices, providing a well-rounded perspective about ministry, the Church, and our calling as vocational ministers.

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Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast

Andy’s podcast has a lot in common with Carey’s, though Andy has been at it longer. The show often features Andy as the main “guest,” interviewed by another member of the North Point Church team. Andy also brings guests from time to time, often from the marketplace. I love listening to him interview someone like the CEO of Home Depot and winding up with great ministry insights.

Why it’s good for Youth Workers: Andy got his start as a student pastor and I often find myself thinking “he thinks like I do.” His advice and perspective show a natural instinct for ministry, and the episodes help youth workers focus on the church as a whole (rather than just our silo of ministry). 

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Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

Yeah, there’s a trend. Rounding out the “Leadership Podcast Trifecta” is Lifechurch founder Craig Groeschel. The truth is, most youth workers need to improve their leadership more than any other aspect of their job. The better you lead, the more effectie everything else will become. I finish each of Craig’s episodes feeling pumped to lead! (That might be because I listen to them at 1.5x speed, making it sound like he chugged 8 Red Bull and wrestled an ox before recording). There are no guests or other voices, just Craig sharing his well-prepared thoughts about leading well.

Why it’s good for Youth Workers: Craig is about as straight-forward, no-nonsense as you’re going to find in the church leader world and it’s a refreshing voice. His suggestions are highly practical (including application questions for each episode) and force you to evaluate your own ministry. Youth workers who need a voice saying, “You can do even better” will enjoy the monthly pep talk from Craig. 

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Youth Ministry Answers

This is the only youth-ministry centric podcast to make the list (kudos to Kenny & Elle). Admittedly, I’m late to the party. After trying too many youth ministry podcasts to count and finding many of them lacking structure, I quit putting “youth ministry” in the iTunes search bar. I don’t who told me to give YM Answers a try, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a show with focus and practical ideas for youth workers.

Why it’s good for Youth Workers: Because it’s for you! Hosts Kenny and Elle gather up guests you want to hear from and work to, well, answer questions about youth minsitry. Nearly every episode has at least one “ooh, I should try that” moment.  

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Stuff You Should Know

When I first started listening to podcasts, it was because of this show. Hosts Josh Clark & Charles (Chuck) Bryant pick some of the oddest topics to dive in depth. The combination of humor and information breathe fresh life into seemingly boring topics (case in point, the recent “How Fireplaces Work” episode). I often end up learning about things I never knew existed, or learning hidden secrets of things I thought I knew everything about.

Why it’s good for Youth Workers: There are two main reasons this podcast can help folks who work with teens. First, Josh and Chuck cover seemingly dull topics in a way that makes you want to learn even more. Youth leaders who are tasked with things like explaining why biblical geneologies matter can glean tips for making any topic intesresting. Secondly, the potpurri of different topics adds some great raw ingredients for the creative side. I’ve found myself retelling stories or working illustrations from what I hear on this podcast. 

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99% Invisible

This is perhaps the most well produced podcast out there (and they have the awards to prove it). Similar to Stuff You Should Know, this show tackles different topics each week. The emphasis is on design, which is a much broader topic than you might imagine. You’ll find yourself learning about baseball strategy, presidential correspondence, or space trach… and loving it.

Why it’s good for Youth Workers: The focus on design forces questions about how we interact with our environment. There are great pearls of wisdom for those who create spaces and environments with a particular intent (like helping teens meet Jesus). This is another example of “cross-training” in leadership development. It’s not a podcast about leading ministry well, but the topics often make me think about how I can do a better job. As a bonus, host Roman Mars has perhaps the most soothing voice in broadcast. It’s perfect for unwinding after that tense meeting with Mrs. Helicopterparent. 

 

I’ve found podcasts to be a great way to fill otherwise idle time driving between meetings or working on simple tasks. They’re great for jarring me out of routine and forcing me to think/consider/ponder something unexpected.

I’m sure I missed some! I’m always on the hunt for more great shows! Leave a comment with what you’re listening to that you’d recommend! 


Bonus

If you’re looking for even more recommendations, here is my complete list of current podcast subscriptions:

I thoroughly enjoy the Overcast app for podcast management.

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