All posts by Ben Yosua-Davis

Transformational Engagement is Hard Work

None of us have an infinite capacity to absorb the suffering of the world (and each other.) The process of transformationally engaging with the people around us is exhausting, inch-by-inch work, and unless we carefully tend our own well-being, we *will* burn out before we manage to make much of a difference.

With that in mind, take care of yourself people. (And if in your hearts of hearts, you know you’ve really been putting your best energy into Netflix and hanging out with people of your own ethnic/ideological enclave, then for heaven’s sake, come out and join us in the work.)

Need a place to start? Here’s what I (and a few of my wise friends) suggested as starting points:

1) Pray. I’m pretty sure I’d be twice the asshole I am currently without the Spirit’s help.
2) Get off social media, at least for a few hours, at regular intervals.
3) Intentionally enjoy being a dad. (It’s easy when you have a son like mine.)
4) Un-selfconsciously embrace stupid things. I have a 3DS that I play constantly, delicious epic fantasy books I can sink hours into, an increasingly fanatic attachment to basketball (I literally listen to more basketball podcasts than any other form of audio media), and a large liquor cabinet.”

Listen to novels. This helps me both during the day to disengage mentally from the work of always processing (even when I’m not engaging) AND also to distract me from my own thoughts when I am trying to fall asleep at bedtime or when I am awake in the middle of the night.”

“For myself, I try to balance the talking with the listening. Really listening, and if I can’t hear it anymore to say our loud, “This is important and I want to keep going, but I might need a break to process more.” Since the election, with difficult topics, I try to give myself and the other person that time to “digest” what we’ve been learning. I try to read as much as I can stomach to really know what I’m talking about (or hearing about) to reinforce anything I need to know. And then I play. Games, movies, songs. I try to get out of “headspace” and just be.”

Say thank you a lot
Take a walk in nature
Get some exercise

“Yogalates, walks in the woods, Netflix, essential oils, drinking water.”

“Sleep!! Even a nap midday if you can manage it (not everyone naps well or has time). A couple of hours, or a good night’s sleep always resets my stress levels. Even if stress or anxiety returns as it is bound to do, the rest can adjust your perspective.”

“Time in nature is my balm, I find it very easy to stay present during my time there. The ritual of making a pot of tea and hunkering down with a great book is so comforting.”


How Do You Stay in the Game?

I’m discovering that the work of genuine encounter and authentic dialogue is really exhausting.

If you’re actively engaged with that work, either on social media or in-person, please make sure you’re being kind to yourself. (I’ve added a few things I do below and would love to hear what you do as well.)

And, if you’re not actively engaged with that work, and have a little extra energy, would you please share the load with us?

Here are a few things I do:

1) Pray. I’m pretty sure I’d be twice the asshole I am currently without the Spirit’s help.

2) Get off social media, at least for a few hours, at regular intervals.
3) Intentionally enjoy being a dad. (It’s easy when you have a son like mine.)

4) Un-selfconsciously embrace stupid things. I have a 3DS that I play constantly, delicious epic fantasy books I can sink hours into, an increasingly fanatic attachment to basketball (I literally listen to more basketball podcasts than any other form of audio media), and a large liquor cabinet.

5 Reason Why Your Ministry Should Podcast

My Podcast Set I

1)      Podcasting is a big deal, especially with young people.

From their start in 2003, podcasts have become the fastest growing media in the United States. In 2016, 40% of all Americans had listened to a podcast, 25% listen to a podcast at least monthly, and half of all those listeners are between the ages of 12-34.

2)      Podcasting build relationships faster than print does.

I talked with an author who told me that for publishers, 5000 monthly listeners are worth the same as 50,000 monthly readers on a blog. The average listener hears five podcast episodes in part or in their entirety every week. That level of engagement allows you to quickly build community with whomever you reach.

3)      Podcasting is effortlessly versatile.

Want to post sermons? Conduct interviews with religious leaders or ordinary church people? Highlight community-created poetry or music? Share your own thoughts on current events? Anything that can be recorded can be posted easily, depending on your goals.

4)      Podcasting is cheaper than you think.

My near-professional setup cost about $150 for a microphone, studio headphones, and the world’s tiniest sound booth, plus $12 a month for a podcast hosting service that connects it to Itunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and my website.  You can edit on any average laptop and there is powerful free sound editing software that provides easy post-production polish.

5)      Podcasting is easier that you think.

Yes, there is absolutely a learning curve at the beginning. However, if you are willing to pay attention to how you setup your recording space, getting an acceptable sounding podcast doesn’t take much time, especially if you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. My podcast, which involves theme music, separately recorded intros and credits, mixing, and editing, takes me about two hours of editing time per episode.

Want hands-on help setting up a successful podcast for your church, ministry, or creative work? I’m teaching an eight-week, hands-on apprenticeship that will take you from the basics of sound editing, to learning how to conduct interviews, to launching your own podcast, starting in September. It’s called “Podcasting and the Art of Sacred Listening”, and if you register before Labor Day, you can get a $50 discount by entering the code “PODCAST2” when you check out.

Register at


How Do You Ask for Healing?


How do you ask for healing?

There are a thousand ways.

With a hand quickly raised.

With a name, an intention,

With a printed drop of water bobbing in an ocean,

With a song and a choir of candles,

With a cry

With a plea.


How do you ask for healing?

With carefully constructed provisos and well-built justifications,

With scriptures like weapons of war and theologies that could storm battlements

With tearful bargains and promises,

With fears under rugs and questions gagged like prisoners.


And then we hear yes; and rejoice with unbelieving surprise

Or hear no, and weep in stunned silence,

Or hear nothing, and listen for the echoes of our prayer in an uncaring darkness.


How do I ask for healing?

When I have rejoiced, and wept, and listened,

As my body shakes and trembles

And my mind stumbles in deep mists;


How do I ask for healing?

When I am betrayed by flesh that is either 33 or 92,

When I lie imprisoned on my bed,

Listening to the sounds of my wife and my boy beyond the bars,

Each gift and green thing repossessed,

Until I am a spectator to my own life.


How do we ask for healing?

If not as conquerors demanding tribute from subjugated gods,

If not as lawyers presenting cases before bored judges,

If not as con-men who turn each “no” into a “yes”?


How do we ask for healing?

We ask like centurions at the end of their power;

Lepers who have forgotten even hope,

Cripples who cannot bathe in water an arms-reach away.


How do we ask for healing?

We ask not like kings, but like beggars,

Not like queens, but like divine panhandlers,

Holding up signs as cars drive by,

Knowing that every real “yes” and “no” must come from anothers lips.


And then – almost unknowing,

We fall into the mystery of love;

Which cannot always heal, but can always hold,

As it trickles through the cracks of a broken world.


For it is then,

When  broken, despairing, and blind,

We stumble into arms that embrace us when we say,

“I am not worthy for you to come under my roof,

But say the words and I will be healed.”

Christianity is a Shocking Religion

“Christianity is a shocking religion, although many of its adherents have managed to protect themselves from its terrible impact. Tears, an awareness of one’s psychic fragility, and a deep sense of peace and joy are not the most obvious marks of believers today. Yet the shock of Christianity remains: the shock of its materialism in its particularity; the shock of its calling us to a messy and untidy intimacy. It claims that the flesh matters. It insists that history (the particularity of time and place) matters. Above all it claims that, in the end, nothing else but love matters.”

Much of the discipline of the desert is concerned with keeping the shock and promise of love alive. Without the occasional abrasive brush with the unexpected, human life soon becomes a mere matter of routine; and, before we know where we are, a casual indifference and even brutality takes over and we begin to die inside.”The shock breaks open the deadly ‘everydayness’ that ensnares us and brings us something awesome and terrifying to our reluctant attention: the believer’s name for that ‘something’ is God.
God ceases to be a subject for philosophical debate, still less the object of our part-time and casual allegiance. This God is no hobby. God is felt in places too deep for words; in depths beyond ideas and concepts. God is felt in pain, sorrow, and contradiction. This, in itself, comes as shock, since we tend to make religion only of our better moments. Our worst moments tend to be repressed and denied. When that happens, we begin to lie to ourselves, and when we do, the very fabric of our life begins to fall apart.”
– Alan Jones, Soul Making: The Way of Desert Spirituality

The Kingdom of God Is Just An F-Bomb Away


I preached this at Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville, ME this past Sunday. It was particularly wonderful to have a bunch of alumni from my home church in the pews to cheer me on, including two of my former Sunday School teachers. (I told the congregation to blame both of them for any offensive or theologically incorrect statements that I would make over the course of worship.)

For those of you who have not met me before (which I think would be most of you), my name is Ben Yosua-Davis; proud alumni of that school that’s up the road about a mile from here. [Colby College] In fact, in what I I think now qualifies as ancient history, I did a Jan-Plan internship at this church back in 2002; the most memorable piece, of course, not being when I preached, but when I led the Sunday School in a very enthusiastic dance that included a lot of stomping , a dance that was interrupted by a harried usher who very nicely informed me that “You need to be quiet, we’re worshipping down here!”

And speaking of worship, our next scripture passage from the first worship-book of the church, the Psalms; which shares with us about how we should approach God when we gather together as a community:

(Feel free to read Psalm 30 and Luke 18:9-14)

Now, as you might imagine, a lot has happened since I’ve last worshipped with you all. I now live now in a Norma Rockwell painting of a 1950’s small town; Chebeague Island, ME, with my wife Melissa, also a Colby alumn and the pastor of the only church on the island; and my 16 month old son, who is, in my perfectly objective opinion, the most beautiful boy in the world.

But today, I’d like to tell you a story from a previous chapter of my life, one where my wife and I went on a spiritual adventure in Haverhill,MA; one where we planted a new type of church: one that did not have a building or weekly worship, but instead met in homes, and in coffee shops, one that went onto the streets and made friends, and picked up trash, and threw block parties and community board game nights; and tried to love with open hands all the people that our society says are unlovable, a faith community that we called the Vine.

Our story begins on one cold evening in February, as Rob and I were leading Bible study, when I leaned over to him and said, “I need to tell you something.”

“What’s that?”

“I’m going to drop the F-bomb tonight.”

Continue reading

Reports from the Spiritual Frontier – My Bi-Annual Update


Every so often, I like to check in about how my podcast is going. (I tried to do this quarterly last year, and was half successful. (What? Ben? You have a podcast? I must have missed your obnoxiously ceaseless social media posts! Yup, listen here!) With that in mind, here’s a check-in on how everything is going, based on the questions I asked myself when I first started this experiment.

1) Am I having fun?

Oh God Yes. I get to interview the most amazing people for a living. (Okay, it’s a very small living, one that I barely have to report on my taxes, but STILL.) I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful it is to talk to some of the most wonderful saints-in-the-making I’ve ever met about the deepest passions of their lives.  I sometimes hang up the proverbial phone after an interview and say to myself, “Wow, that was a truly holy moment.”

2) Is it sustainable?

Yup. My audience is growing, I have one sponsor, a lot of incredibly invested supporters (shout outs to: Paul Nixon, Beth Estock, and the Missional Wisdom Foundation) that give me encouragement and energy (and share generously when they like an episode.)

It’s always been my secret dream to be able to make a living doing creative work: this year it’s finally starting to feel like it might actually be possible.

3) Is it making a difference?

Yup. My podcast audience, much to my terrified delight, has exploded the last two months, seemingly without any particular extra effort on my part. This month, I’ve already passed 1300 listens and 300 total likes on Facebook. I’m hearing from people I don’t know about how my podcast is impacting their lives and I know that other people are using my episodes to tell the stories of spiritual pioneers as part of their work of advocacy.

I don’t know if this type of growth will last forever. I have no clue what’s driving it. (And how is it that I have over a hundred listens from TOKYO?) But to my fans and to the podcasts gods, I say thanks.

4) Am I learning?

Yup. I feel pretty confident about the nuts and bolts of conducting and producing interviews.

Of course, now that I’ve learned the basics, I now have new challenges popping up. My last series on immigration died a sad, silent death, because I lost five of my seven committed guests. While that’s a lot any way you look at it, it points out to me that I really should be recording episodes for September in July, so I can make up for lost guests (or lost health.)