I enjoy reading. I go against the grain as a millennial because I like holding a physical book in one hand and a pen in the other. But with the demands of life (ministry, young kids, and the never-ending supply of leaves falling on my freshly-raked lawn), there’s just not enough time.

Enter podcasts. The concept of podcasting has been around since the 1980s, but the popularity of podcasts has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. I’m a fan!

Why? Because I can grow as a leader as I rake the leaves.

Here are the top 5 podcasts I believe every leader in youth ministry should listen to:

1. Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

Carey Nieuwof’s is the most influential podcasts I’ve listened to. With over 225 episodes, this is more than a podcast – it is a leadership library. Carey states the purpose of his podcast in every episode (a leadership lesson in itself) which is, “To help you lead like never before.” This is accomplished through interviews with individuals from various backgrounds and expertise.

From Eugene Peterson to Patrick Lencioni, Carey has interviewed them all. While he does interject with his thoughts and opinions throughout the conversations, Carey’s humility allows those he is interviewing to have the floor. As I listen to this podcast in the car on my way to work, it helps me start the day with the top thinkers around church culture, change, and leadership.

Want to check it out? Here are two worth your time:

    • CNLP 004: Why Young People Are Walking Away from the Church & What You Can Do About It — An Interview with Kara Powell.
    • CNLP 222: Patrick Lencioni on Saying No to Steve Jobs, Motivating Millennial Workers and The Three Qualities You Need to Look for to Create the Ideal Team. 

2. Youth Ministry Hacks

Practical and fun, this podcast gives its listeners “hacks” to make youth ministry easier. Hosted by a college friend of mine, Justin Knowles, and one of his peers in ministry, Matt Ferrer, they make it easy to gain quick knowledge around some of the how-to’s in ministry. Need to fire a volunteer? There’s an episode about it. Want to create a student leadership team? There’s an episode for that. It’s a super simple, helpful tool for those just starting out and for those who have been here a while and need some fresh ideas.

Start here:

    • Episode 01: Hacks on Talking About Porn, Homosexuality, and Other Tough Topics

3. Rethinking Youth Ministry Podcast

Like Youth Ministry Hacks, the Rethinking Youth Ministry Podcast gives advice on the practical things in ministry. The thinkers behind the podcast are usually associated with either North Point Ministries and/or Orange, and it’s usually a round-table discussion. I find their conversations engaging, easy to listen to, and fun. It’s almost like you’re part of their meeting on how to make ministry better, learning alongside them. I often take what I learn here to my volunteer team, which has made for great discussions and shared learning.

Here are a couple that have influenced me recently:

    • RYM 044: Engaging Unengaged Students in Youth Ministry
    • RYM 023: How to Make The Most of Your Student Mission Trips 

4. Orange Audio Blogs

Short. Focused. Great if you’re not a reader! This podcast is audio recordings of written posts to the Orange Leaders blog. Averaging six minutes per podcast, this is a great way to digest leadership ideas, strategies, and tips in bite size pieces. It’s great for getting creative ideas flowing, and there are  hundreds of episodes to choose from.

5. Human Race Podcast, by Runner’s World

Yes, this is not related to youth ministry. It’s not even about churches in general. And it really has little to do with leadership. So why did this make the list?

We need to engage with our interests and hobbies outside of ministry. I love to run and try to make time for it on a regular basis for my health (physical and mental). Since I know running is good for me, I like to surround myself with things that will keep me running. The Human Race podcast does that. 

Not into running? Great. What do you like? I can guarantee there’s a podcast about it. Find it. I believe engaging with our interests and hobbies keeps us healthy and sharp as leaders. In fact, the Orange Audio Blog has an episode about it!


I hope you can find a podcast that speaks to you and your interests and will help you be a better leader and follower of Christ.

Already a podcast fan? What would you add to this list?

If you’re wondering how you even listen to a podcast, here are the basics:

  • On your computer: Most podcasts have a play function directly on their episode pages.
  • On your smartphone: If you have an iPhone or iPod, the purple Podcasts app is already downloaded. For Windows or Android, download a podcasting app like Stitcher or Overcast.
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Tim Gardner
Tim loves working with a team of leaders who enjoy deepening relationships with God's people and helping them find hope in Jesus. His interests include playing with his two kiddos, hiking in the ADK, and exploring bookstores with his wife.


  1. Avatar Crystal from RYM on August 13, 2020 at 12:04 pm

    Hey Tim!
    Just saw this. Thanks for the shoutout!

  2. Avatar Eddie Cole on November 15, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Thanks Tim! We need to be self-feeding, and as a runner myself, I appreciate the use of podcasts while I’m doing it. I’m going to check out the one you recommended.

  3. Avatar Jason on November 14, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Another ym podcast to consider is How’d They Do That https://www.htdt.org

    • EDA Move EDA Move on November 15, 2018 at 11:53 am

      Thanks for the recommendation, Jason!

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