Fun fact 1: I do a lot of driving. Currently, I enjoy a 45-minute commute to-and-from my home and school (and grad school friends), and a 20-minute commute to church.
Fun fact 2: I actually enjoy driving. It gives me a weirdly therapeutic space to think, where I have to be actively focused on the road but don’t have any other distractions or competing pressures. Sometimes, if I’m feeling thoughtful or reflective, I’ll talk out loud and record it on my phone, to then transcribe into my journal later. They’re awkward to listen back on but when I’m driving back from night class at 10pm, we do what we gotta do, ya know?
Fun fact 3: I’m also a big “car-performer.” The highway is my stage, Spotify provides my soundtrack, and the steering wheel is my mic. Neighboring cars judge, but honestly it’s their loss.
When I’m not talking to myself or pretending I’m at a Broadway audition, I enjoy a good podcast. I’ve cycled through my fair share. Podcasts are a tricky business – sometimes they sound too superficial, sometimes they sound to academic, and sometimes the content is just strange. It’s a delicate balance.
Podcasts are like any other form of entertainment: everyone’s got a preference. I’m not saying that these podcasts are for everyone. But in my limited search over these past two years, these some of the ones that I keep coming back to. Obviously this is not a sponsored endorsement and I am not throwing myself behind all of the content (because, let’s be real, for most of them, I’ve only listened to a couple episodes). But in general? 10/10 would recommend.
- The Upside Down Podcast: Unscripted conversations on life and faith
This is probably one of my favorite podcasts, for the way that it combines easy-to-listen-to conversation with incredibly deep topics. Don’t be fooled by the beauty of the website: this is not wishy-washy Christianity; Kayla, Lindsy, and Shannon don’t shy away from the hard questions. Gentrification, ethical fashion, and finance are just some of the topics that they aren’t afraid to get into the nitty gritty of. It feels like you’re sitting around a coffee table, listening to real women wrestle through the beautiful and messy realities of our life in Christ.
Favorite episode(s): Gentrification, Downward Mobility, Radical Hospitality
- Journey Women: Life’s a journey and we were never meant to walk alone
This is another one that’s pretty low key, in terms of its intensity, but is incredibly authentic and thought-provoking. Hunter Beless interviews “mentor”-type women (and men) about an area of their ministry or testimony. Similar to Upside Down, it’s great because you can choose a topic, clearly labeled in the title, based on things you’ve been thinking about recently. The result is lots of stories and encouragement, from people who could be having the conversation in your backseat.
Favorite episode(s): Sharing the Gospel with Sarah Pape, Waiting with Ann Swindell
- Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley: The show that brings Christians and non-christians together
This is my favorite apologetic podcast. The questions are relevant and the dialogue is always honest and fair for both sides. Topics range from inter-Christian debates on things like abortion, role of women, the existence of hell, or sexuality, to inter-faith/atheist dialogues, on topics like the existence of God, approaches to poverty alleviation, Jesus and Allah, or the separation of church and state. While Brierley is a Christian, his moderation of the discussions is gracious and unbiased; the point is constructive debate and agree-to-disagree dialogue. In a world of hostile, polarizing opposition and flame-throwing rhetoric, it’s refreshing to hear people converse with civility, integrity, and intellectual strength.
Favorite episode(s): As if – I’m not about to tell you what my favorite topics of debate are. Honestly though, it’s hard to pick and choose with this one, because there are so many (they go back to 2007!) and the topics are so expansive.
- Ted Talks Daily: Thought-provoking ideas on every subject imaginable
Who doesn’t love a good Ted Talk? For as varied as Unbelievable is when it comes to apologetics, Ted Talks daily is that much more expansive, in every content area. If you don’t find at least one episode that you like from this podcast, I’d encourage you to expand your interests. Seriously, there’s a myriad (new ones every day) and they’re quality talks from experts. The best part? They’re short (most of them are between 5-20 minutes), so if you’ve got a quick drive, get bored easily, or if you’re not super into the one you picked, it’s not a huge commitment.
Favorite episode(s): A practical way to help the homeless find work and safety (Richard J. Berry)
- Serial: Tells one story – a true story – over the course of a season
This one may not be for everyone, but if you know my family, you know we’re big into Forensic Files and NBC’s Dateline. We recently watched Netflix’s The Keepers and Making of a Murderer. In another life, we might have been a family of detectives. What is fun about this podcast is the ways it feels like a TV show or movie. It’s less thought-provoking, in terms of change-your-life content, but it’s no less engaging. The story and narrative structure is sure to keep you awake on late-night drives. When I started this podcast, I found myself leaving earlier and earlier for my commute, so that I could find out what happened next.
Favorite episode(s): THE WHOLE THING (!!)
- Engaging Missions: God stories in your earbuds
I listen to a lot of podcasts on missions, missionaries, and ministry. But, since a lot of them are conference podcasts, meaning they’re from a 2015 missions conference and aren’t producing new content, I’ve opted to leave them off this list. Engaging Missions, however, is a current podcast with new content every week related to life on mission. Topics range from support raising to spiritual refreshment to specific trends or movements of God around the world. If you’re a missionary, going on a missions trip, or are interested in the cross-cultural ministry of Christians around the world, there’ll be something in this podcast that stirs your spirit.
Favorite episode(s): Eastern Europe and the Power of Prayer, How to Write Great Missionary Support Letters, How Love Conquers Fear in a Majority Muslim Nation
(Global Missions is another good one on the topic of cross cultural missions)
- Hope Writers: Online membership community for writers of hope
Another content-specific one for you, if you’re a writer or like listening to podcasts on writing, this is a fun one. The conversations center around writing, whether it’s dreams, practicalities, or realities of writing, publishing, and inspiring hope. The titles make the content clear, which is helpful. You won’t end up listening to a conversation on book launching, when you’re really looking to hear about how to make time for writing.
Favorite episode(s): Ian Cron – Enneagram for Writers, Ann Voskamp – Inside the Writer’s Heart
- Red Couch with Propaganda and Alma: Candid conversations covering everything from pop culture to important social issues
It’s important, like with anything else, that my podcast exposure match the diversity of the world and the body of Christ. If I’m only listening to people who look, sound, and think like me, then I’m missing valuable content, perspectives, and voices. While the other podcasts I’ve mentioned bring those in through speakers and a variation in content, Propaganda and Alma do it by nature of who they are. They talk, with wit and honesty about relevant, critical topics of today. It’s an upbeat, thoughtful listen.
Favorite episode(s): S01 Bonus Episode
If you’ve got any favorites, I’m always looking for new ones! I’d love to hear #sharethewealth.