I used to Podcast. In fact I was a podcast junky. I was podcasting and listening to 40 different preachers. I got so much out of it but in the last few years I have not podcasted anyone. In fact I gave myself two years off podcasting anyone and here is why:
- Podcasting taught me to listen to preaching like I listen to music i.e. for entertainment. If I listen to my music on my new iPhone 4 (yeah I got one just to be cool) and I find the song boring or not as good as another song I skip to the next one. I learnt to do this with sermons. I programmed myself to think that it was the preachers job to entertain me and if they didn’t I just skipped to the next sermon. This meant I was putting myself over the word instead of under. Preaching became entertainment instead of another opportunity to hear from God.
- It didn’t help me to preach better. Okay this is an overstatement. It did help me to think about how to communicate and how to use illustrations etc. But after a few years of preaching week in week out I am finding my biggest weakness in preaching is making every sermon fresh even though we may be looking at the same topic (i.e. justification by faith in Galatians). Therefore, what I need to is to hear how a person preaches through a book and ask myself how they are making it fresh. If I listened to Piper one day and Mahaney the next and then a bit of Chandler the day after I don’t learn how Piper, Mahaney or Chandler handle the Bible week in week out because I usually forget what they preached on when I get around to hearing them again. Therefore podcasting didn’t help me preach better in the long run.
- Podcasting sometimes made me depressed. I thank God for the guys who I listen to but I am not like them. But when I listen to them I want to be like them. I want to be able to be as deep as Piper, as funny as Driscoll, as insightful as Chandler and as passionate as Mahaney. But when I try to be one of them I sound inauthentic. When I realise that I may never have their strengths it can make me depressed and forget that God has given me gifts and I need to play to my strengths because that is how I will be most effective.
- I was tempted to prepare sermons by listening to podcasts and not studying Gods word. When someone I listened to has preached a sermon on the text I am preaching on it is such a temptation to bypass translating, flowcharting, analysing grammar, reading commentaries and systematic theologies etc. the passage and just go with what they say. But that means I am short changing the people at my church in two ways. Firstly, I am not letting myself pastor them by effectively by applying the word to our specific context and secondly I am short changing them in the long run by not letting Gods word change me as I spend hours upon hours each year in the Bible. I am basically not letting myself grow as a pastor.
So I don’t podcast but I still listen to sermons now. But here is what I do now:
- I listen to whole series. So if I listen to 3 sermons a week I will listen to three consecutive sermons from one series and the next week I will listen to the next one and so on until the series is completed.
- I ask myself what is God saying to me through this? I want to retrain my mind so that I realise that when someone is preaching it is God speaking and not another form of entertainment. Therefore I am looking for ways that God is speaking to me through the preacher.
- I pray about what I have learnt. I want to make sure I apply the text to my life and praying helps me do this.
How about you, have you feel into the traps that I fell into with podcasting? How do you use podcasting and sermons on the internet?