Recommended Podcasts for Christmas Break 2015

I am a huge fan of podcasts, and as Christmas draws ever closer I would like to recommend a few shows for those upcoming long travel days, cleaning days, or even time off. I have organized them alphabetically within categories below.

If you are new to podcasts or have yet to dive in, I created a podcast help page to assist in finding and subscribing to my own new show “Art of the Sermon.” Obviously, I would love for you to check out my show, but this post is meant to point you to other great shows. To check them out, click the podcast title to view them in iTunes or search for them through your favorite podcast app (like Overcast or Stitcher).

Christianity/Church Related

Preach, Pray, or Die – Each episode features an extended interview with someone serving in ministry. The show is produced by fellow United Methodist pastors Rev. Ben Hanne and Rev. Amy Lippoldt. Recommended episode: #22 – Bishop Cynthia Harvey

The Productive Pastor – Rev. Chad Brooks digs into the arena of productivity for pastors and leaders in general. The show is focused on the practical. Recommended episode: 014 – The Power of a Time Audit (BONUS: Chad was a guest on episode 3 of my podcast!)

Pulpit Fiction – Rev. Robb McCoy and Rev. Eric Fistler dig into the upcoming Sunday’s lectionary passages. They provide scholarly background but focus on how to connect it to everyday life. In addition, they have special episodes on occasion with awesome interviews. Recommended episode: David Lose – Festival of Homiletics from May 21, 2015 (BONUS: Robb and Eric were guests on episode 5 of my podcast! You will notice a trend, but I interviewed Chad and Robb/Eric because I already loved their podcasts!)

Rainer on Leadership – This twice-weekly show offers an honest and practical look at leading in ministry. The topics are relevant, the shows are focused and entertaining, and they offer lots of practical tips and tools. Host Thom Rainer is the CEO of Lifeway, which is connected to the Southern Baptist Church, so the answers are occasionally from a Baptism perspective (as my posts and podcasts tend to be Methodist flavored). Recommended episode: #177 – Hit and Miss Church Guest Experiences

Culture/Current Events

APM: A Prairie Home Companion’s News from Lake Wobegon – Is it still considered current events if the town is fictional? Garrison Keillor is a master storyteller, and each week during his throwback radio show, he gives an update on his “home town.” There are usually bonus clips from the rest of the show that pop up throughout the week too. Recommended episode: Every episode is good, so you can’t go wrong.

Pop Culture Happy Hour – Produced by NPR, this is a weekly round up of things that are currently trending in pop culture. While there is a heavy emphasis on television and movies, there are forays into music, books, and even comic books. This helps me keep up with what’s going on and what I may be missing. Recommended episode: The Martian and What We’ve Learned About Other Jobs from October 9, 2015

Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! – NPR’s famous and hilarious weekly current events/news game show. You likely have at least heard of this show where a panel of comedians answer questions about the week’s news. You may not have realized you can download the podcast and listen on demand! Recommended episode: The shows are based that week’s news, so check out the most recent episodes. No matter which one you choose, they are all funny.

Washington Week – This is the audio of PBS’s Friday evening news roundtable hosted by Gwen Ifill. The journalists who make up the panel rotate, so you get to hear from lots of difference voices. If you’re looking to catch up on the week, this is a good one. Recommended episode: Again, current events–pick a recent one.


99% Invisible – This show digs into the little things about design in the world around us that are right under our noses. For example, they had a show about buildings that used to be Pizza Huts–and if you think about it for a second, you know exactly what that means. Recommended episode: 188 – Fountain Drinks

Mystery Show – What if there was someone out there who could solve mysteries when Google falls short? That person is here in host Starlee Kine. This quirky and delightful show can be surprisingly touching, as you will find at the end of my recommended episode: #3 Belt Buckle

Serial – No list of great podcasts is complete without Serial. It exploded in popularity last fall, bringing podcasts into mainstream pop culture and launching a boom of new shows. Each season, they tackle a complex story and try to unwind it week by week. Season 1 looked at the potentially incorrect murder conviction of Adnan Syed. Season 2, which explores the story of Bowe Bergdahl, began last week.

TED Radio Hour – You already know how great TED Talks can be. Now you can listen to excerpts from the best talks and new interviews with the speakers, all organized around a weekly theme. Recommended episode: The Source of Creativity from September 25, 2015

This American Life – The most popular podcast of all time which delivers the famous radio show from Ira Glass. Each week, they present various stories grouped around a theme, and I have found so many good sermon and blog illustrations from this program. Recommended episode: They only archive the most recent shows, but whatever is available is likely to be good.


Pro Church Podcast – This weekly show digs into tech and communication for churches. I learn so many practical tips and tricks from host Brady Shearer. Recommended episode: 081 – Church Marketing Through Storytelling with Kelvin Co

Scriptnotes Podcast – Hollywood screenwriters John August and Craig Mazin host this show about “screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters.” While parts of some episodes dig into details that are likely only relevant to Hollywood screenwriters, they often have incredibly insightful conversations into story and writing in general. Recommended episode: 218 – Features are Different

Social Media Church Podcast – Two tech and social media geeks who work at large churches host this short and practical show. They keep up with the latest tools and resources so you don’t have to. Recommended episode: 130 – Video Tips for Churches with Sean Cannell

Writing Excuses – Featuring a panel of 4 published authors in the sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fields, this show digs into the nuts and bolts of story and writing in general. Throughout all of 2015, they have been doing a “master class” on how to write a novel from start to finish. Many of their concepts can be applied to other works, like sermons! Recommended episode: 10.27 Why Can’t I Just Jump to the Ending

Now I want to hear from you! If you’re already subscribed to some great podcasts, recommend them in the comments below. I am always on the look out for more great shows!

NOTE: Not all of these shows are always “safe for the little ears in your family,” but none are overtly offensive. At worst, there is occasional foul language.

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