Even as many churches in North America have resumed in-person worship following weeks or months of community lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVD-19, a familiar part of the Sunday morning routine is still absent in most congregations—chatting with the pastor and fellow church members over coffee time. At Rolling Acres Christian Reformed Church in Mason City, Iowa, those impromptu conversations, where members get to know one another better, are now scheduled and shared with everyone in the form of a weekly podcast, The Pastor and the Broadcaster.
The “pastor” is Phil Boender, pastor of Rolling Acres CRC, and the “broadcaster” is Harry O’Neal, professional radio DJ, member of Rolling Acres, and great conversationalist. “Before COVID(-19), I used to like to eavesdrop on Harry as he left the sanctuary,” says Boender. “He would instantly be in conversation with someone.” That appreciation led Boender and O’Neal to talk about sharing stories with each other, and the idea of a podcast came to be.
The two create their podcast with O’Neal, who goes by Harry O professionally, in his studio and pastor Boender and a Rolling Acres guest joining by phone via Facebook Messenger. New editions are released on Tuesdays on Harry O’s podcast channel. They try to hit on various topics throughout the discussion including family, faith, and church engagement as well as the passions and hobbies of the interviewees.
“Often the conversation will take on a life of its own,” Boender said. O’Neal said there is nothing different about making a podcast with his pastor. “I approach every podcast with normal conversation,” O’Neal said.
Boender said this opportunity has reminded him that people are a blessing. “Everyone is unique—personalities, gifts and abilities, experiences, stories, faith journey, etc. It is fun to get to know each other better. It is just another layer of love and care in relationship with each other.” O’Neal has appreciated “just finding out things that you never knew about these people that have been part of the foundation of the church. Even people that have known each other for years never knew some of the things that come out in our conversations.”
The two don’t have a fixed plan for how long the podcast might run. Boender said goals for the project include getting to know people better, promoting Rolling Acres CRC and its activities, and making people aware of Rolling Acres as a possible church home. He said if they ever run out of ideas regarding these goals, then it may be time to end the podcast.
Since they started, in April, 19 Rolling Acres members have been featured.