School of Divinity leaders team up to tackle ministry-related topics

With podcasts on a rising trend, Liberty University’s School of Divinity joins the trend with its Modern Ministry Podcast. The podcast launched in the fall of 2019, produced by Liberty’s leading Christian voices from the Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement. 

Gabriel Etzel, associate dean of the School of Divinity and a creator of the Modern Ministry Podcast, shared this podcast is about aiding believers and church leaders to fulfill the Great Commission. 

“We want to be a help and an aid to the local church. So, we want to try to speak (about) modern or current issues that we think ministry leaders or pastors are either wrestling through or just want some clarification, or maybe issues that they haven’t thought about before that maybe they should be,” Etzel said. “That’s what helps to shape the topics for the podcast.” 

Etzel explained how the podcast’s creation came out of a desire to aid believers in spreading the gospel.

“I think it came out of us just trying to brainstorm what would be helpful,” Etzel explained. “So many schools and colleges and other universities have some type of presence, whether that’s a podcast or different type of program, and so we thought, ‘What do we think would be helpful for alumni, for current students, for friends of the School of Divinity who are in ministry?’ So (we) then start(ed) looking for a name for it and came up with Modern Ministry Podcast.”

Troy W. Temple, dean of the School of Divinity and one of the coordinators of the Modern Ministry Podcast, helps lead the direction of the podcast.  

“The overall mission of the Modern Ministry Podcast is to enter into conversations about pertinent issues related to local church ministry and the things that we face even as believers in a public sphere of just everyday life with the intention of strengthening the position of the church and every community, for the sake of the gospel,” Temple said. 

Jack Carson, the executive director for the Center of Apologetics and Cultural Engagement and another founder of the Modern Ministry Podcast, said they decide topics based on who the audience is, what they want to know about and what the faculty wants to hear about. Current topics include church planting, women’s leadership roles in the church and friendship.

Carson explained that while no topic is off limits, such as trending topics like homosexuality and abortion, they are primarily focusing on helping the church deal with broader issues. 

“For the most part, what we are trying to do right now is center on church ministry and equipping pastors for engaging with broad categories (like) how to go about doing church planting, how to go about loving your congregation and how to go about leading well. That, so far, has been our angle,” Carson said. “We just try to make sure we’re not chasing clicks, we’re not trying to engage those topics just for that reason. We want it to be systematic and intentional in the way we engage.” 

Temple and Carson both stressed the importance of students asking to have specific topics covered. Students can email with their questions. The same invitation goes out to Liberty’s faculty. 

“We want to hear from students. We want to hear what students are questioning and what they are really zeroing in on right now as the major questions for their generation and for their time,” Carson said. “And if we had students reach out to us and say ‘This is the topic I’m really curious about,’ that would go a long way in shaping where we’re going.”

Preparation for the podcast centers around letting the conversation flow naturally instead of heavy script writing. 

“Typically, we have some prepared questions that kind’ve start the conversation, and then it just naturally flows,” Etzel said. “My goal in helping to interview for it is typically to get the person I’m interviewing talking. The questions are just prompts to help the listeners some.”

Overall, interacting with and learning from their interviewees became one of their favorite parts of the job. Etzel hardly contained his amazement when talking about some of his interviewees. 

“Some of these guest speakers for the church planting ones … Wow, I could sit and just hear from them for hours, they just have so much information and such a good view on the church, just so excited about it and what God’s allowing them to do,” Etzel said. “It’s just meeting these individuals and listening to what God’s doing through them. That’s really exciting to me.” 

The Modern Ministry Podcast is recorded in one of the Freedom Tower rooms that’s been converted to a studio and released on Wednesdays, with video and audio episodes on their Facebook page at Liberty University School of Divinity. Audio-only episodes are found on Anchor, Spotify and Apple Podcast.

Araujo is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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