June 2018


Twice a year, I try to check in with you all about how my podcast, “Reports from the Spiritual Frontier” is going.  (My last update is here.) As I mentioned during my update at the beginning of the year, this is my make or break year for this podcast. The first six months have been immensely clarifying about what that means, so, without further ado, let’s check in:

1) Am I having fun?

I could almost copy-paste my response from last time. I love the interviews and the opportunity to have deep conversations with utterly amazing people. It’s been a *dark* six months nationally; and this podcast has been one of the key activities that gives me hope and keeps me sane.

I can’t tell you how energized some of these conversations have made me. Highlights include: talking for almost two hours with David Evan Markus, as we discovered our immense common theological ground, listening to Erin Martin and almost crying as I heard about the beautiful way her intentional community grounds her vocation, gasping almost audibly I had heard Dan Wolpert describe the first six years of my pastoring in five minutes, smiling as I heard Lisa and Justin talk so openly and collegially with Ramsey about creating spiritual community with the differently abled.

I still don’t like promotion, I still don’t like wrangling guests (and yup, I’ve had several no-shows, etc. this year), I still don’t like the way that I can anxiously obsess over statistics.

I’ve discovered that I have a super-anxious artist living in the back of my brain, and while I know I have to deal with him, the constant “This is going to fail”, “Your audience isn’t growing”, “Your podcast isn’t making much of a difference” monologue is emotionally exhausting.

2) Is it sustainable?

Thanks to some excellent feedback from Beth Estock, Kenda Creasy-Dean, and David Evan Markus, I now have a workable business plan.

Out of that came immensely simplifying clarity: the bottom line is that my podcast is simply not solvent, and my income needs to expand if I can afford to do this for a fourth season.

This is the linchpin to my discernment. If people like what I’m doing enough to invest financially in it (stay tuned in early fall for a Patreon campaign and very affordable financial sponsorship opportunities for your organization!), then I can step into this for a fourth season and feel good about it. If not…

3) Is it making a difference?

We’ll see. My listens are about 10% down from last year (in part due to a interview-cancellation/illness absence in May).  For me, the question whether people value this enough to invest in it financially will be the answer to this question.

4) Am I learning?

I’ve leveled up my business-planning skills immensely. I’m still not great as surfacing the value proposition of my podcast, accurately valuating my audience, and hustling to find partners; but I finally feel like I have a pathway for growth, which is very encouraging!

Here’s a little bit more of our conversation with Ramsey Patton, where she describes how the FEAST does communal worship and music making with people of different abilities. To hear the rest of our conversation with Ramsey and other spiritual pioneers like her, check out our Facebook page at or subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts!


Join us for a conversation with Dan Wolpert, co-founder of the Minnesota Institution for Contemplation and Healing (MICAH), and writer of “Creating a Life with God” about the spiritual life of the Every-Pastor. Hear Dan describe his own journey from contemplative practice into Christianity, the common spiritual contours of a typical pastor’s life, the stories that almost every religious leader tells themselves, the functional atheism of the typical mainline church, and what it means to live as if God is actually present and active in the world.

You can hear more conversations with spiritual pioneers like Dan by visiting or by subscribing to us wherever you get your podcasts!

Join us for a guest-hosted conversation with Rev. Ramsey Patton of Highland Park UMC, as she shares with us her experience of cultivating spiritual community with the differently abled through FEAST, a worship experience specifically designed for those disabilities and special needs. Hosted by Justin and Lisa Hancock, she explores the nuts and bolts of what worship looks like for those of different ability levels, the beautiful moments of grace, the challenges and opportunities of inviting people into spiritual formation and leadership, and the gifts of struggling, failing, and learning together.

You can hear conversations with other spiritual pioneers like Ramsey by subscribing to us wherever you get your podcasts or by visiting us at



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