Formation for the Missionary Church
Bible & Brew
Bible & Brew was birthed over beers. One day, soon after cracking open a cold one, Episcopal priests Landon Moore and Ben DeHart asked each other, “How do we make the Christian message relevant to the unchurched at this bar?” The brainstorming session that followed led to the creation of a podcast that focuses on “God talk” over a craft brew.
The podcast is pretty eclectic. Landon and Ben talk about events in their lives, the lectionary texts, current events or whatever the Holy Spirit has placed on their hearts that week. The free-wheeling nature of the podcast is purposeful. If you are anything like its hosts, you’re distracted right now. (In fact, they’d bet that while reading this article, there are at least three other things happening in your life, on- or off-screen). There’s laundry and racial injustice, cooking and 24-hour news, exercise, and it’s still Corona-tide. In a word, it’s really hard to focus, to mind any one thing for more than fifteen seconds. But that’s why Bible & Brew is so perfect as an evangelistic tool for right now. You can do all of these things (and more!) while listening to a quirky, charming podcast that just might catch you off-guard and raise a spiritual question that you can’t quit. (That’s our hope, anyway.)
But don’t take our word on it, here are a few stats from Podcasts Insights:
- 75% of the U.S. population is familiar with the term “podcasting”
- 37% (104 million) listened to a podcast in the last month
- 24% (68 million) listen to podcasts weekly
- 22% listen while driving (in a vehicle)
What’s more, according to Podcast Insights, 48 percent of young people between the ages of 12-34 listen to a podcast every month. Being millennials themselves, Landon and Ben are passionate about reaching the least churched generations with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, as we Episcopalians attempt to counter the church attendance decline narrative, Landon and Ben believe that Bible & Brew is a relevant way to creatively proclaim the Gospel of God in Jesus Christ to those outside the church. We invite you to listen to our podcast, but also to come up with your own idea for reaching and engaging those who do not yet know the joys of belonging to an Episcopal church.
You can find Bible & Brew on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.
The Rev. Landon Moore serves as an associate priest at Saint Mark in Brooklyn, New York. He is active in the Diocese of Long Island and currently assists young adult ministries. He serves as the secretary for the Black Caucus in that area. Landon grew up attending Bethesda Episcopal Church in Saratoga Springs, New York, and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Philosophy and Religion from Marist College, where he enjoyed competing at the NCAA Division 1 level on the college’s football team. Following his undergraduate years, Landon went on to receive his Master’s in Divinity from Yale Divinity School. As a seminarian, Landon also devoted significant time to mission work at an Episcopal orphanage in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and in Bondeau, Haiti, where he worked with local children.
Landon’s Bible & Brew co-host, the Rev. Ben DeHart, is the Associate Minister for Pastoral Care and New Members Ministries at the Parish of Calvary-St. George’s in Manhattan.
Landon Moore speaking: Each of us has had to think outside the box and do ministry in unique ways: using new technology, social media and even some doing TikTok. Ministry is changing, and how do we do ministry in a changing world? The question I wrestle with, like many of us, is how does a church continue to engage God’s people in the midst of a global pandemic? How do we continue to engage God’s people when we can’t have worship on Sunday or can’t leave our home? How do we continue the Great Commission of Matthew Chapter 28 — “therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”? How do we continue to spread the love of God in Christ Jesus?
Not everyone finds life in the church building. Not everyone gets rejuvenated from going to church. So with that in mind, a colleague and I, the Rev. Ben Dehart, started a podcast called Bible & Brew – yes, Bible & Brew! It’s on Spotify and Apple podcasts, and we have about 3 million people who tune in – no, it’s like about 27 currently, but it’s a start.
So, we started this last year and we would put out an episode each week. We would pick a beer for the week and talk about the lectionary text for the week, have an informal conversation in regards to our thoughts – this is how God is speaking to me, and then, what do you think about this? – just an honest, real conversation that everyone can relate to. This also helped Ben and me, because we both preach on Sunday. At the time, it was via Zoom.
As time transpired and history unfolded, we thought yes, we can continue with the lectionary text, but let’s talk about things that are happening in history and tie it back to God-talk; how is God working in history right now? Asking questions that everyday people would want to listen to and tune in for. Questions such as “Can one be a white racist and a Christian? Where is God when human beings get trafficked?” Suffering or love, singing, praise, joy – whatever it may be. This podcast had the intention to reach beyond the church goer and, with the help social media, get into the general public, into the hearts and minds of the non-Christian, the liberal and the conservative and the evangelicals.
We have an average viewership of about 27 right now, like I said earlier – but why a podcast? Here are some stats:
- 75% of Americans are now familiar with podcasts, up from 70% in 2019, an increase of more than 10 million in one year
- 55% of Americans have listened to a podcast, up from 51% in 2019, indicating that roughly 75% of the people who are familiar with podcasts have actually listened to one
- Podcast listeners have grown to 37% in three years
- More than 100 million Americans listen to at least one podcast each month
- As of 2020, 48% of all Americans, 12 to 34, listened to at least one podcast per month, compared to 42% in 2019
So, with these stats, and as they go up, the church can be influential in having honest, real conversations in which the general public – people –are actually engaged in listening. And people can listen to it on a train ride, a subway ride or in their cars – wherever they feel comfortable, instead of going to a physical church space. This could be the beginning of their relationship with God, the beginning of a relationship with Christ.
This was one of the ways that Ben and I engaged this pandemic to do ministry in a creative new way that was outside the box. We ended up dialing down, canceled out the beer and now are doing coffee for the winter months, but these are some of the ways that God continues to use God’s people and to speak through us. May God bless you and use you and your ministry.
- How Do We Tell Our Story? by Demi Prentiss, Vestry Papers, May 2020
- How Do You Share Jesus? by Linda Buskirk, an ECF Vital Practices blog, August 29, 2016
- Evangelism – It’s Now or Never by Kenn Katona, Vestry Papers, May 2020
- Be Weird, Be True by David Peters, Vestry Papers, May 2020