Baptists join podcast boom
    April 16 2018 by BR Staff

    The digital world of podcasts is expanding at a remarkable pace, and many Southern Baptists are taking advantage of the audio platform’s popularity to broadcast their message across the web.
     
    Unlike articles and some other sources of information, podcasts allow for personal, conversational interaction with current events, said Amy Whitfield, communications director for Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and co-host of SBC This Week, a weekly news program focused on Southern Baptist life.


    Baptist Press file photo
    Amy Whitfield and Jonathan Howe, center, interview Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, on the podcast “SBC This Week,” which reached its 100th-episode milestone April 28, 2017.


    “A podcast, particularly one with multiple regular hosts, allows for more lively discussion and banter,” she told the Biblical Recorder. “We actually get to explain our thought processes and ask each other questions. The more conversational nature of a podcast also allows listeners to get to know the personalities of the hosts.”
     
    Podcasts were first launched into cyberspace in the early 2000s but gained mainstream attention in 2005 when Apple included a podcast feature in its iTunes music player software, according to Wired magazine.
     
    The rise of Apple’s iPhone and mobile data networks triggered a second wave of attention in 2008, as listeners gained the ability to download podcast episodes on the go.
     
    The latest and largest popularity boom began around 2014, which some attribute to Apple’s release of a dedicated podcast app on the iPhone, in addition to the breakout success of an investigative journalism program called Serial.
     
    In 2017, the daily reach of podcasting grew by 46 percent among Millennials (ages 18-34), faster than any other audio medium, according to Edison Research.
     
    While traditional radio still owns the largest share of total listener time, a Pew Research report said more than 21 percent of Americans over the age of 12 listen to podcasts regularly.
     
    A trio of Southern Baptists kicked off an “almost weekly” show in 2017 called The Potluck Podcast, SBC, which features commentary on Southern Baptist issues.
     
    “We started the podcast to talk about something we all love – the SBC,” said co-host J.R. Parks, a deacon at Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, N.C. “During the last year, I’ve been excited to find myself more involved with the SBC at various levels. I hope we can inspire other people in our age group to engage more with the SBC.”
     
    Podcast episodes vary in length, usually ranging from 15 minutes to more than an hour.
     
    Many podcasts release new episodes on a daily or weekly basis. Sometimes they are categorized by seasons, depending on the show’s content. A small number of podcasts have experimented with releasing entire seasons at once, hoping to mimic the success of binge-watched Netflix shows.
     
    Whitfield and co-host Jonathan Howe, director of strategic initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, started podcasting in 2015 not knowing how long they would continue, Whitfield said. They wanted to talk about news in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and thought others would share their interest.
     
    “We are two Southern Baptists who have chosen to be engaged in the process, and we wanted to invite others to be engaged as well,” said Whitfield. “But engagement has to begin with information, and we decided to bring it in the form of a conversation.”
     
    Throughout the week, Whitfield and Howe monitor religious and mainstream news outlets for content, relying heavily on Baptist Press (BP) and Baptist state newspapers. They typically record on Thursdays, edit the episode and then post the next day.
     
    For a segment called “This Week in SBC History,” Whitfield looks back at archived material from BP and the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives. “I just look at the same week in a number of years and tell the story that interests me,” she said.
     
    J. Allen Murray, pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Lake Toxaway, N.C., and Jared Cornutt, student pastor of First Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala., co-host The Potluck Podcast, SBC with Parks.

    Other podcasts with Southern Baptist hosts:

    The Briefing: Daily news and cultural commentary by Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

    Signposts: Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), answers questions about theology, ethics and issues concerning the church, and features various guests

    The Way Home: Weekly conversations with Christian leaders and Dan Darling, vice president for communications at the ERLC

    Not Another Baptist Podcast: New Mexican pastors Kyle Bueerman and Matt Henslee host weekly, sometimes humorous discussions about ministry topics related to the Southern Baptist Convention.
     
    Ministry-related podcasts:

    No Campus Left: A podcast about current issues relating to collegiate culture and ministry

    N.C. Asian American Ministries: Highlights Asian American leaders and their ministries to impact lostness among Asian populations in North Carolina and beyond

    The Front Pew: North Carolina pastors Chris Griggs, Ben Rudolph and Matt Capps discuss life, ministry and mission

    Rainer on Leadership: Twice a week, Jonathan Howe and Thom Rainer provide practical training for leaders and pastors of local churches

    From the Lectern: Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Office of Kingdom Diversity hosts conversations and interviews about serving others across cultural lines

    Pastor Talk: Marty Duren, executive editor for LifeWay Pastors, asks ministers about issues that matter in the local church.

    Many churches and other ministries use podcasts to distribute sermons and other ministry related content.

    Although news often enters the discussion, the Potluck Podcast hosts do not claim to be reporters.
     
    “Other places do a better job at that than us, but we love giving our commentary about those things,” said Murray. “Sometimes we hit things hard on the political issues and sometimes we’re joking around.
     
    “We talk about the Southern Baptist Convention – whether it’s theology, politics or current events – and give our perspectives. The three of us have different perspectives. One is a pastor, one a youth pastor and one is a deacon. And we just love talking about Southern culture. We love where we live and the things that make up the South.”
     
    Since the first episode in February 2017, listeners have heard from a wide variety of Baptist leaders including two seminary presidents – Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary and Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
     
    “We want this to be informational and funny,” said Cornutt. “A lot of the humor comes out in our ‘Southern Culture’ time, which we close every episode with. It is a listener favorite and where some of the best banter happens.”
     
    Whitfield said her favorite episodes to produce for SBC This Week are those around the new year.
     
    “We always take the first episode of January to focus on questions that we have for the year ahead in the SBC. Then at the end of the year, we do the typical reviews, top 10 lists, but we also look back at those questions to see if they have been answered. It’s a great way to keep a bigger picture of developments in the SBC.”
     
    Howe said he enjoys the SBC annual meeting wrap-up episodes in June.
     
    “Amy and I are both absolutely exhausted at the end of the annual meeting.
     
    “But when we meet to record, it’s so satisfying because we’ve just finished the high point of our year, and there’s always so much to process.
     
    “It’s like giving an interview in the locker room after playing in the Super Bowl.”
     
    Hosts for both SBC This Week and The Potluck Podcast encourage listeners to be involved in Southern Baptist life. Recent news reports suggest that podcast listeners are more engaged with audio content than listeners of other platforms, such as AM/FM or satellite radio.
     
    Multiple podcast networks told Wired that listeners are getting through 80-90 percent of episodes on average, while skipping relatively few ads.
     
    “There’s a level of dedication that comes from podcast listeners that you otherwise don’t find,” a podcast network executive told Wired magazine.
     
    Podcasts are available on Apple’s Podcasts app, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, TuneIn Radio and other digital media outlets.

    4/16/2018 2:59:07 PM by BR Staff | with 2 comments
    Filed under: Podcasts, SBC This Week, The Potluck Podcast, SBC




Comments
Editor
That's hilarious, Matt! You guys on the back row always get overlooked in a Baptist church. We didn't even know about you, but now we will be sure an usher speaks to you next time. Seriously, our staff really did not know about your podcast, but now we do -- and we hope our readers will tune it. With a little research, we learned you serve from New Mexico. Is there anything else you want to share with us? Thanks for speaking out from the back row, brothers. Keep up the good work!
4/18/2018 8:56:45 AM

Matt Coker
You guys forgot the Back Row Baptist Podcast!
4/17/2018 9:42:57 PM

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