As a pastor who, like all pastors and indeed all true Christians, wants to make some kind of difference in the world for Christ, I often think about influence. Who has it? Can the Church compete with the world’s influence? How can we get more? I know the line between my own aggrandizement and my desire for the world to know Christ is razor thin. Thankfully, even though my motives are impure, Paul allows me to serve Christ’s Church (Philippians 1:15-18)!
Podcasts are a new way to have influence. While Howard Stern sees them as a tool for “losers,” many are having an impact. Perhaps not as much as best-selling books and/or cable TV yet, but it is a coveted medium for many. It’s also relatively easy and cheap so the market is flooded beyond belief. Still, my hope is that Orthodox Christianity (and this does not include the likes of Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Steven Furtick and others) can have impact through this medium.
So I got curious the other day at where some of my favorite or other great Christian/religious podcasts ranked on Apple’s Top 200 list. So I went to the list on the iTunes Store and was surprised to see only one in the top 100: Issues, Etc. When I went back today, it wasn’t even in the top 200. I guess the list changes regularly depending on downloads. So out of the top 100, I categorized as best as I’m able the various categories of podcast. Again, the list changes often, so this was only one snapshot.
But from what I can see, even though there are many orthodox podcasts available to the coveted “next generation”, they aren’t being downloaded. That day only Issues, Etc. and a “read through the Bible in 5 years” podcast were in the top 100. Tim Keller was near the Top 100. Joel Osteen was placed in the “self help” category. Today, no orthodox Christian podcasts are in the top 100 and only Tim Keller is in the top 200.
I was glad to see Issues, Etc. made it that high. I was sorry to see that James White, Michael Brown, and Chris Rosebrough hadn’t broken through, not to mention Greg Koukl or William Lane Craig. I also realize there are daily podcasts and weekly podcasts and that weekly podcasts may not rank as high.
I guess when I think of influence, though, and when I look at trends, the Church is facing an uphill battle. And yet, while I’m not against all of the podcasts in the top 100, they have no promise from Christ that they will bear fruit. But for those podcasts created, produced and fed by the Word of God, they will bear the fruit that God intends. And that fruit will be 30, 60, or 100 times the seed sewn.
So for those who produce these oft-declined orthodox podcasts, keep it up! For though not as popular as true crime and self help podcasts (not to mention crass and lewd offerings), they can and I’m sure are used in God’s Kingdom. I only wish the chart above showed that they were used more.