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  • Writer's picturePodcast Librarian

StartUp (Church Planting): Churches are big business

The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):

Every year, there’s a movement of thousands of pastors starting new churches — they call them church plants. It’s a world remarkably parallel to the tech industry, with incubators, growth metrics and, well, angel investors. One of these pastors, Watson Jones III, has dreams of starting a bustling new church in North Philly. But first, he has to figure out how to get people to show up. Watson might have the most difficult task of any founder in America: Convincing people who don’t know — or even believe — in God to change their minds and join his church. ⠀⠀

Series or standalone:


Begin listening to:

The Movement


Investigative storytelling with interviews


Eric Mennel

Sound/production quality:

Very good

Rating/age suitability:

Teen/adult (more adult appeal)

Approximate length of episodes:

35 minutes

Curricular ties:


Similar recommended pods:

StartUp: Success Academy

Podcast Librarian’s Review: If you’re having déjà vu and thinking I already reviewed StartUp, then you’re correct; that was the most recent season about the charter school network Success Academy. I’m not religious, but I live near Philly and enjoy hearing stories about startups (which a church like this is, as strange as that may sound). Just like a Silicon Valley startup, a so-called church plant starts from just an idea and requires funding and marketing to come to fruition (and hopefully, continue to thrive). Naturally, there are ups and downs along the way. I’ll admit I wasn’t quite as captivated by this story as by Success Academy, but that was definitely a more controversial topic. A highlight of this season was Episode 4: The Conversation, in which host Eric Mennel interviews the pastor about his views on issues like LGBT church members and women in leadership positions within the church. I was annoyed with the pastor A.J., not so much because of his views but because he feels the need to align with the larger church organization. That felt inauthentic to me, but I’m glad Eric asked those questions. I also enjoyed Episode 5: The Retreat, in which Eric grapples with his own faith (which felt a little unrelated at first but was ultimately interesting) and Episode 6 (a bonus episode), in which a woman tells about her calling and journey of becoming a female pastor. I learned quite a bit about the business of churches from this series and enjoyed it.

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