Monday, March 17, 2014

When Podcasters Replaced Pastors

An interesting epiphany hit me. 

Not when I was out hiking 13,000 foot peaks in Wyoming.
Not when I was on my thrice weekly run.
But rather when on the treadmill as this vile of a winter that refuses to end:

Podcasters are the new pastors.

I say this not for my own egotistical self, but rather an observation whilst listening an episode of Stefan Molyneux's podcast.  He was reviewing the numbers and 2013 was by far his best year.  Over 50 million downloads, the "Truth About" series helping with that, and enough income to at least keep the lights on.  This all without a building to preach in, housing, or a congregation all provided by the parish.  It was with a microphone, a computer, some bandwidth, and some servers Stefan (and his adjutant) Michael were able to deliver, in just one year, more "sermons" in the form of podcasts to more listeners' ears in a week than your average pastor will deliver in his lifetime. 

Driving this naturally is technology.  And of course people would rightly point out this could have been said about radio hosts.  However podcasters pose a greater threat to pastors than radio show hosts in that they don't need to cover the overheard of a radio station and a radio tower.  Ergo, they can focus on special niches in life and attract smaller, but very loyal audiences, instead of aiming for a mass, boring, indifferentiated market share.

The result is a plethora of podcasts and shows that address every imaginable topic.  Aurini and Molyneux cover philosophy.  I have my own economics/sociological/courting podcast.  Ed has his political podcast.  Kerry Lutz his precious metals podcast.  FTM their survival podcast.  Alton Brown his...well..."I'm Alton Brown and everything I touch turns gold because I'm that freaking cool of a guy" podcast.  Every imaginable facet of life has a podcast and people can now tune into very specific and precise shows leaving the mass-market-appealing radio shows behind.

But the area podcasters give pastors a run for their money is philosophy and real-world advice.  And this is where podcasters are not so much putting pastors out of business, but eating their lunch.

Understand with philosophy, life advice, financial consulting, dating, etc., podcasters are serving a horrendously underserved market of (primarily) youngerish people (45 and younger) who have been misled purposely or unintentionally by all instititutions and entities in society.  Revisiting much trampled ground before - courting, careers, dating, health, politics, government, etc., etc., - nearly every one 45 and under have been lied to about the real world.  Consequently they very much are lost sheep and are in desperate need of being deprogrammed from the brainwashing they received and then being informed about how the actual real world works.

However, whereas this would be the domain of pastors and clergy members, they fail miserably addressing these social problems because they have their hands tied behind their back.

Tied by what?


Whether you are a rabbi, a priest, an imam, or a pastor, you are relegated to to dispensing advice through the lens of the Torah, Koran, or Bible.  You are also further regulated by tradition where all of your sermons must be religious.  Ergo, the best a man of the cloth can do is lecture around 500 people once a week, pulling a lesson from their religious tomes that has a real life world application.  This of course ONLY AFTER you waste 25 minutes on the front and 25 minutes on the back of the sermon doing calisthenics, kneeling, praying, singing, and saying, "the lord be with you" to some stranger to your right.  And heaven help you if there's a baptism or communion. For 2 hours of attendance, you maybe get 15 minutes of sermon, 2 minutes of which is actually practical advice.

But not with podcasts.

With podcasts it's direct, topic specific, and immediately practical to your life.  There's no interruptions with pointless 3,000 year old traditions and chanting.  It's a fraction of the cost of tithing (because all your good religious people tithe, right?  RIGHT?).  And it can be listened to anywhere.

Now, will the advent of podcasting flatten the churches, raze the synagogues, and destroy the mosques?  Well, one can hope,  As long as there are people there will always be religion.  However, what will happen is philosophy, advice, leadership, economics, political, and other "life guiding" sorts of podcasters will become the effective new pastors.  Not because they set out to do so, but because they are actually doing the jobs of what pastors were originally supposed to be doing, but can't because of the religious handicap.  You throw in technology and the traditional "business model" of a church (with physical buildings, organs, staff, etc.) is about as obsolete as a radio station.  And if there's any doubt, realize even a lousy, curse-laden podcast like mine, has about 2.5 times the weekly "attendance" than the average Wisconsin Synod Lutheran pastor.  Then again, it's pretty hard not to beat those sermons.


TroperA said...

It ain't religion that's holding pastors back from telling it like it is: it's Churchianity. It's the fact that many churches have become feminist social clubs where men go to learn what meanies they are and that the whole "wives must submit to their husbands" thing from the Bible was "misinterpreted". (What the passage REALLY meant, according to Churchians is that men and women should submit to each other, and by "submit to each other", they mean "do everything the wife tells you to do or she'll divorce-rape you with the Church's blessing".)

What a surprise that many men ditch this hostile environment,leaving only women in the pews (and leaving pastors in a position where they must appeal to the fairer sex for collection plate money, usually via more feminist pandering).

I think all of the chanting and fancy buildings used to serve a profound psychological purpose within the Roman Catholic Church, reinforcing ideas and getting parishoners into a contemplative state of mind. Unfortunately, Vatican II came along and Sunday Mass was transformed into the colossal borefest it is today. (Guitar-wielding hipster priest trying too hard to appeal to the dwindling younger masses is funny, but purely optional.)

Todd Keller said...

The Sheeple are most guilty of lying to themselves. They have shelved their critical thinking and personal accountability in exchange for the promise of a "better life". Somehow, the fact that "the better life" is being paid for with their own money via taxation is unnoticed! Common sense would dictate that one keep their money and make their own decisions...common sense stopped being common the minute the expression "common sense" was coined! Sheeple have sidelined their reasoning in a world with a leadership vacuum...anything can happen now and it's not going to have the predictable outcome we all want to see.

Eric S. Mueller said...

I have heard some really good sermons in my time, but most are bad. I don't go to church very often at all, but do download the sermons every week. Last week, I guess my church had a guest preacher. It was bad. The guy was trying to use funny stories to make his point, but I eventually got fed up and marked it as read. His "funny stories" were Churchian cliches I've heard a thousand times and have written most off as logically inconsistent anyway. Couldn't finish it.

Most evangelical churches try to cater to the fictional person in North America who has never heard of Jesus, but somehow miraculously managed to walk through the door on Sunday. Everything is geared toward that one person, which makes it really boring for people who have been Christians for a while, have done a lot of independent study outside of church, and want to grow.

That and of course with over 2000 years of church music, the churches I've been to seem to limit themselves to 6-10 songs on a weekly basis. How they can possibly not get sick of those freaking songs after singing the same one for 5 years straight every Sunday blows my mind.

That rant aside, podcasting has definitely made my life better. I can listen to shows on a variety of topics when I went, rather than being stuck into a certain timeslot of a radio schedule. In the early 90's when I listened to Rush Limbaugh, I got frustrated because he was only on while I was at work. Later he offered the ability to pay a hefty subscription fee to listen to recent shows. I have no idea how that model works now. With so many free podcasts, I don't get how anybody can be popular enough to make money by keeping their podcast behind a paywall.

Anonymous said...

I attend synagogue services about once a month and agree that the political tone is awful. But there is one thing that a podcast cannot do: create a small, intimate community where real human beings know each other, help each other and are there for each other during difficult times. When my wife died the people at the synagogue were there for me. No podcast can do that.

Nate said...

I've been teaching Sunday school (unpaid) for over a decade, but I have a real job as a mechanical engineer to pay the bills (taxes!). If money is a concern you are welcome to visit my church, there are no paid positions. Everybody has a real job. Church positions are filled by "regular" people not professional clergy. Kind of like the good old days when Jesus picked up a few fishermen to do the work, and didn't pay them a dime.

Cogitans Iuvenis said...

TroperA is right, it isn't religion it's Christianity. Look at some of the old catholic sermons and dissertations. Very red pill.

Ramon Thomas said...

It's not only Christianity. Most religion comes with baggage of believing things unprovable, required by faith. Podcasters give people what they want, when they want, directly. You have to be faithful and unquestioning in your belief to gain the same advice from your pastor.

Cogitans Iuvenis said...

*excuse me I meant churchianity