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By Jonathan Howe

If 2014 was the breakout year for podcasts, 2015 was the year they became mainstream.

As we are now well into 2016, there are indications that the interest in podcasting will continue forth unabated. This rise in the popularity of podcasts is significant for many reasons, but specifically significant because it shows a change in the way in which we consume media. In fact, there are five specific benefits we can gain by consuming podcasts:

  1. Deeper Personal Connections — Podcasts offer much more than written media because they put a voice with words. You may have a favorite author or blogger that you love to read, but hearing their voice and hearing them express their thoughts literally adds a new dimension to their content. The audio component promotes a deeper connection between the speaker and listener and builds a greater affinity to the author’s work.
  2. More Personal & Informative Advertising — Not only are podcasts valuable for consumers, but for advertisers as well. Instead of running canned ads (which can be effective in podcasts, but can also be skipped), many advertisers are opting to have hosts read a short statement about their product or service but then talk more casually about the advertiser. This typically benefits the listener by allowing them to receive more details about a specific product or service without a major interruption to the experience of listening to an episode.
  3. Introduction to New Ideas — As a subscriber to a podcast, you are along for the ride. Much like watching a news program, you trust the provider (in this case the podcaster) to take you on a journey through different topics. These often prove to be new and unfamiliar topics and ideas that the host thinks are important. The listener is then informed or made aware of important topics and ideas he/she might never have known about.
  4. Redeemed Time and Continued Personal Growth — Related to the topic above, podcasts allow listeners to grow more in their knowledge or expertise about a topic or situation while at the same time redeeming time that would be wasted on an inane task. Commutes are turned into classrooms through podcasts. Dog walking becomes discipleship time. Exercising not only builds the body but the mind as well.
  5. Cultural Awareness — As podcasts sit on the leading edge of technology and information, those who are consumers of podcasts will often be more aware of the changes in culture. Season one of Serial spawned many debates online and at the office. Those who weren’t listening to Serial soon found themselves out of the loop on a major point of discussion in our culture. Popular podcasts of any genre can be a point of discussion for the Christian and non-Christian alike. Like music or sports, these conversations can be used as bridges to gospel conversations.

Podcasting will only continue to grow. I suggest you find a few podcasts on topics that interest you and subscribe. You will likely benefit from the content, learn new things, and you might even have an opportunity to share the gospel as a result.

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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