Senior Pastor, Community Heights, Newton, IA https://communityheights.org/
Co-Host of the 200Churches Podcast – https://www.200churches.com/
Recently started a second podcast called “Coaching for Pastors”
Bart Blair: Welcome to the Church Growth Interviews podcast from Missional Marketing, I’m Bart Blair, the co-host of the show. Today without my co-host. Jason Hamrock, CEO of Missional Marketing, who I usually record this podcast with, went on vacation right after we recorded the interview that we’re going to be sharing with you today. And I didn’t want to delay getting this podcast out to you, so I just decided I’d record a quick intro myself.
Bart Blair: Today’s interview is with someone that I’ve known of for years, his name is Jeff Keady. He’s a pastor of a church in Iowa and he’s the co-host of a podcast called 200churches. And today with Pastor Jeff, we do a deep dive into what it would look like for a pastor of a church to have his own podcast, not just simply pushing out the weekly sermon into a podcast platform, but actually creating content specifically and uniquely for a podcast. Jeff is very creative, has some great ideas, and I think that you’re really going to benefit from listening to this interview.
Bart Blair: If you find yourself benefiting from this interview and the other content that we’re creating in this podcast, we’d appreciate it if you’d leave us a rating or a review, wherever you’re listening or wherever you’re watching. That would mean a lot to us, just help more people find our podcast as we continue to bring these interviews to you.
Bart Blair: And one last thing, if you haven’t checked out our YouTube channel, we’ve been adding content on a pretty regular basis to help you leverage more digital tools to reach more people online, whether that’s your website, Social Media, SEO, a lot of different things that you can learn by just simply tuning in to our YouTube channel. Make sure that you subscribe to that so you get notified, ring the bell. I think that’s what you’re supposed to do. Subscribe and ring the bell so that you get notified when we are posting new content to our YouTube channel. Hopefully, you will find that content just as helpful as you find this podcast. Well, again, thanks for taking the time to listen, or watch, or however you consume it. Here’s our interview with Jeff Keady.
Bart Blair: All right, all right, I’m going to take a little pause and then I’ll get us rolling.
Bart Blair: Jeff Keady, welcome to the show today, we’re so glad to have you.
Jeff Keady: Well, thank you, Bart. It’s good to be here with you and Jason.
Bart Blair: I’ve been looking forward to this for the last few weeks since I reached out to you and you agreed to come in and join us on this podcast. It’s kind of weird being on a Zoom call with you. You and I have zoomed once before, years ago, or Skype, it might have been Skype. I think it was pre-Zoom, it was actually a Skype call, that’s how long that was. And you didn’t remember me, which my feelings were not hurt.
Jeff Keady: I do remember, I just don’t remember the exact conversation.
Bart Blair: Ok, OK. One of the things I remember was that I was sitting at my kitchen table, and I had kind of this my dining room light over me and the wall behind me was brown. And you said, hey, if you’re ever going to shoot video that looks really good, you should shoot video right there. So I did, I started shooting video right there.
Jeff Keady: Ok, I do remember that. Yeah,
Bart Blair: You do remember that? Anyway, you have been a part of my weekly routine for, gosh, probably five years. You are the host, co-host of Two Hundred Churches podcast, and I invited you to come on the show today to talk about podcasts. That’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to do a podcast about podcasts. So, why don’t we start today by just having you share a little bit of your story, talk about your ministry background, the church that you’re serving in now, and any other details that you think might be valuable for our listeners?
Jeff Keady: Well, my ministry background actually goes all the way back to me, being like nine years old and looking at the pastor and seeing his soft leather Bible draped over his hand and the pages hanging down and hearing these things about God that I’d never heard before. And God speaking to me then and saying, that’s what you’re going to do, that’s what I want you to do. And I remember sitting there saying, oh, yeah, that’s what God wants me to do. And so ever since like nine years old, I’ve known I’m going to be a pastor. And, you know, there’s a few twists and turns, you know, as a teenager and young adult, but I made it to Bible College at age 20 and never looked back, so, I’ve been a pastor now for about thirty-four years. And I’ve been in small churches, as small as, you know, I remember one Sunday morning we had 16 people. And that was about, I remember thinking, is this critical mass? I wasn’t sure, the space would seat about 40, so 16 was pretty sparse. But from that, to well, the church that I’m in today, you know, now after covid, you know, I don’t know, where are we? We had three hundred and something on Sunday morning. But, you know, who knows, who knows where that’s all going to go. And I was in a church as a youth pastor, assistant pastor, you know, the only thing I haven’t done really is anything to do with vocals or music or instrumentals, I don’t do that. But I was in a church from ’94 to ’04, for ten years in Amsterdam, New York, and then, I was 14 years in Orange City, Iowa. So in twenty-four years, I was only in two different churches, which was really nice. And then about four years ago, God brought us here to Newton, Iowa, where, Lord willing, I get to finish my time, which I hope I’m able to. I think it’ll work.
Jason Hamrock: Wow, that’s amazing, congratulations. Way to go, God, for leading you down this path. And how cool is that, at nine years old? I was not thinking, I don’t think I was, speaking of being a nine-year-old, you know, I don’t think I was mature enough to understand that my calling to work in the church. I never thought I’d work in a church, but I found myself working in a church, but that was a different story.
Jeff Keady: Let’s not go to maturity now, you know, it’s just that still, small voice. But my first church, this is the funny thing, my first church was in a little town in Pennsylvania called Factoryville, Factoryville.
Bart Blair: So that’s in Pennsylvania?
Jeff Keady: Yeah, that’s right.
Bart Blair: That sounds like a town in Pennsylvania.
Jason Hamrock: It does.
Jeff Keady: Well, and no, there were no factories in it when I was there. So you got to figure that.
Jason Hamrock: Go figure, go figure. [inaudible] So today, we want to talk about this podcast, you’ve been podcasting for, what, eight or so years. How did that get started?
Jeff Keady: First off, I went back to school, which was a great thing. After 23 years, I finally went back to get an M.Div. And when I did that, I met a guy and after I met a guy, I got to know him and brought him to my church. And about the third month we were in the church, he said to me, hey, you and I should have a podcast. Well, the truth is, he just liked to hear himself talk, and so he wanted to do a podcast. But I was, I had been listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast. Michael Hyatt had started a podcast back then, and there were just a couple others, and podcasts weren’t really known back in 2011, 2012, but I had been listening. And so I kind of had an idea of what this stuff was about and what was required to do it, because Michael Hyatt, like he explained everything as he was starting his, he was very transparent.
Jeff Keady: So, it was pretty interesting, and so one day in January of ’13, I said to Johnny, off the cuff, I said, hey, you said we should do a podcast. Well, let’s do one. He’s like, OK. I said, no, like today, let’s do one today. He’s like, I can’t do Johnny, Bart, you would know. His voice got really high and he said what are you talking about? I’m like, no, let’s do it today, I said I’ve got this little voice recorder and, you know, we’ll do it. So I set it down on the desk between us. He sat on one side, I sat on the other, and I pushed record and we sat there and looked at each other and we laughed, and we had no idea what we were doing. But we recorded like five minutes and forty-three seconds, and that was all we had, that was our first episode. It was, I think it was January 13th of 2013, and we literally just went from there. And within eight days we had a website, we had a podcast hosting deal, we were on iTunes within eight days and we had one episode and there it was. And just little by little, we just went from there, but that’s how it started.
Bart Blair: Once you hit iTunes, you’re like legit, right?
Jeff Keady: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Bart Blair: There was a day and age when, like, getting something on iTunes was really, really cool if you could get something on iTunes. It’s not so complicated anymore, they’ve made it a lot easier for podcasting and content producers to get their stuff online and distribute it in places like that. But, you know, back then, that would have been a big deal.
Jason Hamrock: So what’s been the focus of the podcast?
Jeff Keady: Yeah, which it’s interesting because when we started, we said, OK, what should the podcast be about, who is it to, and all that? And I said, well, what if we did a podcast for small church pastors by small church pastors? And then Johnny added the phrase, that doesn’t suck. I’m like, OK, but I’m like kind of OK. This is was like almost nine years ago, and I was a little uncomfortable with that. But I’m like, that’s Johnny, and that’s his generation. So, that’s essentially what we did, is we said, there’s 80 plus percent of churches in America are small churches, in fact, around the world are small churches. And I had been through, personally, the 80s and 90s church growth, megachurch conferences, all this stuff. And I was tired of being disillusioned by the results I would get when I come back from a conference and then try to do, you know…
Jeff Keady: In fact, one hundred and fifty people left our church when we returned from Saddleback in the 90s and, on a dime, changed things in our church. Now, we got more than one hundred and fifty people, you know, after that. But still, I just, I was, there’s a reason there are small churches now, there’s a reason that 80 percent of the churches in America are one hundred people or less, and I don’t think it’s a bad reason. So anyway, I said to Johnny, listen, let’s do it for small church pastors. And we looked online, I mean, we just did a Google search, not just podcasts, but any resources. And there were very few resources for a small church ministry. I mean, small church ministry was kind of, you know, that was taboo, everybody wants to grow, everybody wants a big church. And most of the resources were there for growing your church, and we just decided we are not going to talk about church growth, we’re going to talk about church how.
Jeff Keady: So one of the things that I did is, I said to Johnny, OK, I’ve been in the church now for eight years and this is what we’ve done out of our church of one hundred and seventy-five to 200 people over the last eight years. And we had literally dumped over, was that a million or two million, I’m not going to do the math now, but it was either a million or two million dollars into missions in those eight years. And I started thinking back to the families that we’d ministered to over those eight years, you know, the funerals that we had sat with people through and helped people through, the hospital visits, the kid’s ministry that we did, you know, how many students got to go out around the world on missions just from our little church of two hundred? And I said, you know, when you take all the ministry of all these small churches, this is significant kingdom work, this isn’t small fry type stuff.
Jeff Keady: So our tagline has been from the beginning, ministry encouragement for pastors of small churches. It’s just so straightforward, and so clear, and it has really guided us the whole time. And we’ve thought about going in different directions, and have on different episodes, you know, just things that we were curious about and wanted to learn about. But really, ministry encouragement for pastors of small churches has been the focus, and that’s been really helpful from the start.
Bart Blair: So, Jeff, I was really intrigued by the podcast when I first discovered it, and I’m pretty sure, I don’t know if I was listening to it before you had the opportunity to be on Carey Nieuwhof’s podcast. But as we were discussing earlier, episode ninety-nine of the Carey Nieuwhof podcast, you and Johnny were guests, and that gave you exposure to a lot of small church pastors, and I was one of them. I was actually pastoring in Canada, and so I had my ear to what Carey Nieuwhof was doing because he was obviously in Canada. And I just began to feed on the content that you guys were producing, and it was a real blessing for me and the other leaders that I was serving alongside in ministry.
Bart Blair: The reason that I was excited about having you on the podcast today is, that as Jason and I meet with churches and pastors and communications leaders in churches, one of the things that we always talk about is creating content and then leveraging that content digitally to reach more people online. And ninety-nine percent of what we talk about is leveraging sermon content, using the website, using social media. And I’ve recently had some conversations with some pastors who have talked about better ways of leveraging podcasts to reach more people online, not just publishing their weekly sermon as a podcast, but actually creating content that’s specific for a podcast audience that might be evangelistic oriented, or discipleship and equipping oriented, but just doing something where they can take their gifts and their talents and leverage that in a different medium to reach more people. And I started thinking about that, you know, Jason and I’ve been doing this podcast for a year, I would say that we’re novices and we’re still learning and we’re trying to figure out how to do this, but we’re also not pastors. And I thought, you know, Jeff Keady has been a pastor for all these years that he has been podcasting, and while your podcast has been for pastors, I wanted you to speak into just sort of what it’s taken for you to sustain a podcast over the years while pastoring a church, and how you would speak or encourage some of these pastors who are thinking about doing that.
Jeff Keady: Yeah, well, it’s interesting for me because we went for six and a half years and never missed a week, and that was through all kinds of life experiences, kids getting married, parents dying, kids being born, a church split. I mean, just, you name it, the stuff that we went through, and we literally never missed a week in six and a half years. And then one night I did what I never wanted to do and I said I wouldn’t do, I gave myself an out one week, and that’s all it took to throw me off the train tracks, and I’ve never really gotten back on now in the last two years. Now, we’ve continued to podcast, but it’s not a consistent weekly thing. So your question was, I think as you’re pastoring, you know, what does it take to podcast? You know, I think it’s like anything, whatever your priority is in life, you’re just going to do it. We do what we want to do and we make time for that, and for six and a half years, I felt like the priority, one of the priorities in my life, was speaking to pastors and keeping that podcast going because there weren’t other podcasts like it. Johnny and I grew tons through that process, through the journey, through the consistency, through all of the different guests that we talked to, through the relationships that we built. And I’m thankful that at that time in the podcasting evolution, we got in when we did because we got to know so many people from you know, people like Carey Nieuwhof, to, you know, one of our favorites has been N. T. Wright, you know, we’ve talked to him several times. And then we talked about Dan Reiland from 12Stone in the Atlanta area, and he was so gracious. The very first year, in 2013, I direct messaged him on Twitter. And I said, you know, we’ve got this podcast for small church pastors, you have been, you’ve been equipping, you were the pastor’s coach back in the 90s, I used to get your weekly email called The Pastor’s Coach from Dan Reiland. And I used to look forward to that email and I would, I mean, I read it every week. And I told him that, I said, hey, would you come on our podcast? Well, he did, and we did a five-part series on his book, Amplified Leadership. And then after that, he was on another, I think he’s been on twenty-six or twenty-seven times on our podcast. And I went down to one of the Rethink Conferences, I think it was two years ago, and he and I got together and were able to visit together because the Rethink was right at the church where his office is, the 12Stone location, and got to see him. And then, a few other friends that I’d been connected with, all the way back to the Maximum Impact Simulcast days of John Maxwell and some of the ministry consultants that we used back then. So, you know, these kinds of relationships are so important. But I’ve gotten a little bit off track of your question, if I haven’t answered yet, refocus me and I’ll land on it.
Bart Blair: Well, you know, I guess one of the things that you talked about was making the commitment to do it, and then sticking with it. Right? That’s, I think, step number one. And I will highlight, we were on a call last week with some of our leadership team at Missional Marketing, and I mentioned that we were coming up on episode number 50. I think you’re, this episode we’re recording now, I think is number forty-eight. And I told some of our business partners that we were going to hit number 50, and we were going to call that season one, and take a little break. And the reason is, the reason is, that how many episodes did you and Johnny have in season one?
Jeff Keady: Three hundred and fifty.
Jason Hamrock: Bart, I don’t think we should do that.
Bart Blair: Yeah, no, it’s hard. I mean, we’ve been doing this for, I would say, we’re about fifty-eight or fifty-nine weeks in, and we’re about, you know, we’re a few weeks shy of that fifty-two episodes and being a year’s worth because we’ve been trying to do one a week. And it is difficult, right, it is difficult to line up guests, it’s difficult to have the content, it’s difficult to find it on our schedules because you know, I wish I could say I podcasted for a living, but I don’t. This is part of what we do, we’ve committed to doing it. So, why don’t you speak into some of the other, maybe some of the other pitfalls, or some of the challenges that you and Johnny have faced over the years as you’ve tried to maintain the consistency, as well as, maybe some of the best practices or things that you’ve learned along the way?
Jeff Keady: Yeah, you know, I looked at that question that you sent me about pitfalls and I thought, when we were podcasting regularly, I don’t know any pitfalls, there were really no downsides for us. I remember the week that my twenty-one-year-old son was in a terrible automobile accident, and he was in the ICU, in a coma, with a traumatic brain injury, and I sat in the little patient consultant room, which was like four by four, and I closed the door and I literally recorded a ten-minute episode right straight into my laptop and I uploaded it. And I think it’s right after episode ninety-two, it was between ninety-two and ninety-three, and I didn’t even give it a number, I just said something like, special episode. And I just shared with our listeners where I was at, and what was going on in my life, but also I wanted to get an episode out that week and I did. So I don’t know that there were any pitfalls to regularly doing it, but there were a ton of advantages and benefits.
Jeff Keady: But going to a local church ministry, so when Johnny and I podcasted together, we were in the same church together. And then when we separated and went into different churches, we still went for like a year and a half and continued to podcast regularly. And one of the things that I think pastors can do, we podcasted two pastors, but in a local church, podcasting is a great solution in the area of discipleship. So, if you’ve got a weekly message, your sermon, and it goes out every week, personally, I don’t call that a podcast. That ain’t a podcast, that’s a sermon recording that goes out every week, OK? But you know, it’s podcasting, it’s the medium, so that’s what they call it. But a pastor could sit down at his or her desk once a week and speak for 15 minutes on, either on the message they’re going to bring on the coming weekend, or the message they just brought, or both. They could speak on Monday and unpack and augment the message they just gave the day before, and give some reminders of action steps and further study or further reflection. You know, hey, yesterday morning we talked about this, I’ve had a day to think about it and I’ve talked to some of you about it, and here are some other things that you might think about, here are some other passages you might look at, here are some action steps that you could take this week. And then on a Thursday or Friday, whenever you take your day off, hey, this weekend we’re going to be talking about this, this is the passage. And you can actually begin the message ahead of time, and it only needs to be two, three minutes, I mean, it doesn’t have to be long. But if you set it up as a podcast, people can get it in their podcast feed right where they get all their other podcasts, and as long as you’re consistent, people will start listening. I mean, there has to be some value to it as well, but we’re pastors, right, that’s what we want to share, we’re sharing God’s word, we’re sharing value.
Jeff Keady: So, another thought is, I know some pastors who have done a podcast about different businesses in their community, and the people running those businesses, and how they got started. And it’s literally the pastor going from business to business, and they come up with some catchy name that’s connected to the name of the town, and it’s just for local consumption. They’re not trying to go viral, and they’re not trying to get, you know, all these listeners. But it’s for their community, and people are like, hey, hey, you know, Sam’s on the podcast this weekend, you know, he does carpet cleaning and he’s on. Hey, did you ever know that he was married four times or like, whatever the story is, you know, interesting stuff. That’s a great way for evangelism, and getting your church out there, being seen as a normal person and it’s not all religious talk, but you’re actually talking about your community. You’re being affirming, and you’re building people up, you’re building businesses up, and you’re really creating a lot of goodwill for yourself in the community, and that’s all pre-evangelistic type stuff. So you could use a podcast for that, so you could use it in the community to meet community needs, but you could also use it within your church. We did, we have a podcast, well, it’s called, our church is Community Heights Alliance Church, and so the people in our church refer to our church as CHAC. I don’t like CHAC because it’s not a word, it’s confusing to people, but we call the podcast The CHAC Insider, which is probably the worst name for a podcast because you don’t want to be insider-focused. But I thought, hey, that would get people, oh, they want to be on the inside, maybe they’ll listen. So when I first came to the church, I started recording with different couples and individuals in the church just telling their story. And I did that for the first year, and then some things blew up in the church that I had to take care of, and we kind of got off track. And I’ve gotten back to it a little bit, but not consistently. But that’s another way to get people to know the people in your church, they see them on Sunday mornings, but they have no idea their story. And I remember sitting down with one couple, and I found out that they lost a son, who was I don’t remember, it was four or five years old. And then their other son, they had a huge, an accident or an illness, but anyway, they had been through tremendous suffering. And then another couple that we sat down and they said, well, yeah, last year our marriage almost ended and here’s what happened. Like, I had no idea, and so people in the church were able to hear each other’s stories. There’s, I mean, there is endless possibilities for you as a local church pastor to use the medium of podcasting, and the consistency of podcasting, and the whole deal where it just downloads on your people’s phones, right, it’s so easy. So, really your imagination is the limit on that.
Jason Hamrock: And so, I think, sometimes I think we, like when we did our podcast, probably when you did your podcast, while I really appreciate your podcast, literally how it got started, you just hit record and started talking, you know. And I think we have this concept where if we’re not like the Carey Nieuwhof’s of the world, why would we even want to start? I think your advice, I think this is what you’re saying is, just get started. You know, technology’s so far advanced, you can do Zoom, right, you can do anything, and it’s like really professional. But just get started, and maybe let God lead you where he may want to take you with this thing.
Jeff Keady: One hundred percent, and that’s true with so much in life. And I heard a guy say one time, well, whenever you start something, it’s always bad. And it is, you know, whenever you start something, you’re not very good at it. And I literally told Johnny, I said, listen, let’s just get started and let’s get the bad out of the way and let’s get to the good, and I believed that it would take six months before we would have any listeners at all. And it was longer than that in some ways, and shorter in other ways. You know, when we’d have 20 downloads a week, we were like, woohoo, we’ve got like three downloads every day we’ve got three downloads, you know? And then it got to where, oh, I can’t even remember the numbers. I mean, it got to where it was twenty thousand a week there for a while, and you just kind of lose track of how many that is. But that’s just to shmucks in a church in a small town of like five thousand people in the Midwest, you know, it’s just what it was. But we were consistent, we did it every week, every week, and we built relationships.
Jason Hamrock: Yeah, I think that’s another side benefit is all the relationship-building you get to do. And, you know, that’s the church, right, it’s like knowing people. I’m really impressed with your focus on just having couples in your church just kind of talk to them, and again, just hear their story. Because that’s what, you know, bigger churches will do that, and that’s what they’ll show on the screen is like somebody’s testimonial thing. Well, yeah, you could do that in a podcast, and it’s just as effective.
Jeff Keady: Yet, it’s a lot easier.
Bart Blair: It’s a way, way simpler. Yes, exactly, yeah.
Jason Hamrock: Man, that’s good stuff.
Bart Blair: You know, something that, what you’re saying there reminds me, I’m pretty sure that it’s John Maxwell that said this, and it’s not John Maxwell, we’ll give him the credit for it anyway. but it’s that content, compound. And he would know, if anybody would know, it’s John Maxwell. It’s just that there is something about continuously creating content with the purpose of adding value, not to just hear your own voice or to spout and shout what you know, but to try to add value. And I think that there’s something critically valuable about that, especially as it relates to our ability to communicate gospel centric conversations. Right? Whether it’s interviews with people about their lives and the way that God has impacted their lives, or as you use the term sort of pre-evangelism, about being engaged in our community and highlighting people in the community that others might not know and just telling stories, I think there’s a lot of power in that, consistency is obviously the key. You know, we manage to preach fifty to sermons a year and, you know, and they’re not always good. Right? In fact, talk about when you starting out, you know, I have gone back and watched or listened to some of my earliest sermons on a rare occasion and think, oh, my gosh, I am so grateful that God let me grow out of that. You know, I’m better today than I was when I first started. But, yeah, I just think it’s really, I love your creativity and your thoughts on that. Jason, did you have another question that you want to ask there?
Jason Hamrock: Yeah. So, I mean, well, I think…I mean, if I had to summarize this, it’s about having consistency, just starting and having consistency and you’ll figure it out, and through that, you build a lot of relationships and I think God teaches you a lot. What else can pastors learn about podcasting?
Jeff Keady: I think if you have new conversations with new people and you force yourself like you said, Bart, the 52 messages every week, every month, 52 every year, you need to have new ideas, new thoughts, new conversations, new relationships. And podcasting helps all of those things, even if they’re just local relationships, even if they’re just sitting down and having a long-form discussion with each of your elders, or all of your deacons, or whatever the leadership structure is in your church, all of your ministry leaders, and allowing them to tell their story. We know this, as we stand on our platforms every weekend, we look out and really everybody has a story, right? Everybody does. And it always surprises me, but it always is so special to me, when I hear these stories. This 92-year-old guy who said to me, you know, when my sister got married, I was the one to drive her and her husband from the wedding to, I don’t know as to the reception, or to their honeymoon location, or wherever. This was back when they would steal the bride and groom away after the wedding, and they would keep them apart that first night, you know, their friends would get together, there’s a term for it. So he gets his sister and brand new brother-in-law, and he’s driving away and they’re coming after them, so he’s kind of speeding a little bit and he goes around a corner and he gets in an accident and his brother-in-law is killed. And I said, John, your sister just got married and her husband is now dead. He’s like, yeah. And I’m like, holy cow, you know, what kind of a story is that? That’s just one thing that this guy’s had to deal with in his 92 years, and you hear story after story. So, when you sit down and you talk, and Carey Nieuwhof calls him long-form conversations, right, I love listening to them. And you get your people to tell their stories when you’re just in a room with you and them, they’ll talk and they’ll forget the microphone is in front of them. And then, you know, you get their permission, obviously, before and even after. Is there anything you want to cut out? Is there anything? No. you know, if it can help somebody else, you know, you go ahead and share it. And people get to know each other because you’d have to go to a coffee shop and sit down with somebody to actually have those kinds of conversations. But now everybody can go out on their walk or whatever it is, and they can listen to that in one week and now everybody else in the church who takes the time to listen will have that intimacy with those people and will understand their life a little better.
Jason Hamrock: And God is in every story, and so, that’s going to pop out. Right? I can imagine the 92-year-old man, wow, what a tragedy that he had to go through, but I’m sure God did something there and made that to his glory at some point. And you just wonder, like, oh, I would want to hear that story because then I could apply that to my life, and things that I might be able to take with me. So you’re not only blessing that individual, you’re blessing so many people by hearing that story, which that’s amazing right there. Right there, that’s why you should do a podcast, pastors.
Jeff Keady: Right, and we spent all this time on the Sunday morning…I mean, up until a year and a half ago, a lot of pastors record their messages, you know, and if they were, they were just set somewhere. We spent all that time to give a talk to a group of people, put a microphone in front of yourself and record, and if you’re consistent and you give quality and there’s maybe a little something unexpected, every once in a while people will listen to it. It just takes time. So you just have to be consistent, but you have to believe in it, you know, otherwise, you’re not going to take the time to do it.
Jason Hamrock: Wow.
Bart Blair: I was going to say, you know, I’ve had a bit of a pet peeve of mine, I guess, for many years, is when a pastor stands up to begin his sermon and he’ll say last week we talked about this from First Corinthians chapter two. And I’m thinking, no, we didn’t talk about that, you talked about that. We sat here and listened to you talk about that.
Jeff Keady: It’s the royal, we.
Bart Blair: Right, the royal, we, exactly. And as you were, you know, sharing that story there, Jeff, all I can think about is, you know, my picture of the early church would be one in which there was probably a lot more conversation and a lot more dialogue than what we do today. And even though I wouldn’t say that one on one, or two on one, podcast interview necessarily reflects the early church, it does give you an opportunity to have conversations about things that you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to in a regular weekly church service, because that’s just not typically the way we think about structuring our worship service on Sundays in dialogue. But a podcast gives you that opportunity to literally say, we are talking about this, and we talked about that. Right? Bringing others into the conversation.
Jeff Keady: Yeah, yeah, that’s good. And, you know, pastor, maybe you or, you know, whoever’s listening, maybe you’re not a communicator like that. Maybe you don’t like that kind of chit-chat or that kind of conversational approach, there’s somebody in your church who does. And they have no idea that it could actually be a ministry, that their gift of gab, so to speak, could actually be a ministry in your church. Maybe you need to grab somebody and say, hey, let’s do an experiment, let’s do a month of conversations with our people. We’ll just pick out four, and we’ll do one every week, ad let’s just do an experiment and see how it goes, we’ll promote it and talk about it and just see what happens. And maybe you find somebody who will do that, and be really nice to find somebody who would also edit it and upload it for you because that’s where the time comes in.
Jason Hamrock: And yeah, there’s always that. Yeah.
Bart Blair: Yeah. Why don’t you speak to that from a technical aspect a little bit, because that’s obviously something that you and Johnny had to kind of learn on the fly, it’s changed a bit over the years I’m sure. But from a technical standpoint how, again, did you manage that as a small church pastor?
Jeff Keady: A lack of sleep, actually. It would take me about five hours a week to record and then do all the editing, you know, produce the episode, and then upload it to where it needed to be uploaded to, and then get it promoted out on whatever social media stuff. You know, I could start at, say, seven or eight o’clock at night and kind of take my time and take a break if I needed to or whatever, and I might not be done until 2:00 in the morning, and that was kind of a weekly commitment that I made. But, you know, you do, you have to edit it, and the better you edit it, the better product you put out. And there are a lot of podcasts right now that are just doing, they just press record and you just hear all the hmmm, you know, uh, you hear all of those. And that’s just a philosophy, people say, well, they like to hear the conversation and those are in everybody’s conversation. And that’s fine, I didn’t do that because I had guests with varying degrees of on their talent. And so there were some people that were pretty big names and really good, but they had a ton of verbal clutter and I had to sweep all that out of the way, and when you swept it out of the way, you had a much more engaging, listenable, conversation afterwards. So, I spent probably too much time editing, I spend not as much time now, but I still will go in. Because I want my guests to sound good, I don’t want people to hear all this verbal clutter, I’ll leave some in, so it’s a natural conversation, but a lot of it, and especially, the longer pauses and pieces of verbal clutter, I’ll take out. But yeah, it was a commitment and there’s no glory in it. But I tell you what, when I would be done and I would produce it and it would go out to a couple of thousand pastors, and I knew that others would be listening, it’d be like a painter when he finishes the painting, or a composer when they finish the piece of work or whatever, it was always like a work of art that I just finished and I put out that people were going to enjoy. And that was so, few things in my life have been so fulfilling as one or two in the morning, getting up from the dining room table and going to bed and feeling that sense of accomplishment. Yeah.
Jason Hamrock: That’s awesome. So talk to us a little about what your podcast is, so our listeners can tune in. Talk about your podcast, and where they can find it, and what’s it called?
Jeff Keady: Yeah, 200churches, 200churches, all one word. You could just search that, and that’s you’ll find that on any podcast. If you go to 200churches.com and go to the podcast series tab, you can click on different individuals, or I think we’ve got, my favorite is, the college professor one. And I forget what do I call that, scholar one or something. But if you’re a seminary prof, I think it’s called The Seminary Series. If you’re a seminary prof, you’re listed in there somewhere, we’ve had a lot of seminary professors, scholars, authors, and they would all be in there. But we’ve got, I don’t know, somewhere around three hundred and sixty or seventy episodes in there, and there’s just a ton of encouragement. It’s really encouragement is what it is, a little instruction, you know, some good ideas, inspiration, but just a lot of encouragement.
Bart Blair: I do want to point out one thing, because I know that this has been pretty important for you in your life, but you made some pretty significant health changes for yourself in the last number of years and have been helping other pastors and church leaders as well. Why don’t you talk a little bit about that?
Jeff Keady: Well, that’s got its ups and downs. You know, my dad always said, he used to work as an elevator guy, you know, and he said that the job had its ups and downs. Well, when you’re helping people get healthy and lose weight, that has its ups and downs, too. So three years ago, I started, and I lost 80 pounds and was feeling fantastic. And then we had 2020, and it really isn’t the fault of 2020, it’s just me and my wiring and how I’m wired. But I’ve managed to help other people lose 80 pounds who have kept it off, and I have put almost all of it back on. And you know, you put the first part of it on kind of unknowingly, you really don’t know what’s going on, you’re just caught up in the culture, the food culture we live in. But then when you do it the second time in broad daylight, you kind of know what you’re doing and, you know, you’re still not able to help yourself. So, I’m still working with some people, and yet when you’re not doing it yourself, it’s really hard to try to encourage or tell somebody else, you know, what to do. However, the plan that I was working on was very effective, very helpful. It still would be, but it’s food, if anybody struggles with food or food addiction, they would understand. You know, you’re only a food addict if you eat addictive foods, that’s the truth. I suppose you’re only a drug addict if you take addictive drugs, right? So if you can get off of those addictive foods, but the problem is in our society, they are everywhere. There’s a dealer about on every corner, you don’t even have to get out of your car, you just drive through and you just pop your phone on the little thing and they give you out your, what I call, your dime bag, you know, and you could drive away. And I mean, it literally really is that. And so I’m kind of making light of it, but my heart really goes out to people who struggle. And if you’re listening today and you’re saying, wow, that’s me, you know, I struggle. So I’ve got a guy that I work with, and he’s also at, if you go to coachingforpastors.org, he and I both have kind of a presence there. And he’s doing better than I am, he’s doing pretty well, he also lost 80 pounds, and you can check in there. So go to coachingforpastors.org, it’s a podcast that I started recently. I don’t have a lot of episodes up on there yet, although there are several and they are really good ones. But there’s also a kind of a health coaching side to that, and if you’re interested, you can go there. And again, my own sister lost eighty pounds and has kept it off. And I’ve told her, I’ve said, hey, don’t cheat, you do not cheat, just stay on the straight and narrow and you’ll be OK. Because when you eat the wrong foods, it just fuels your cravings for other wrong foods. And one of the interesting things I’ve learned that I didn’t know, some people are affected very differently than other people by the same foods. So to some people, processed sugars and flours are highly addictive, to other people, they’re hardly addictive at all. They can eat some and stop, and others…Kind of like alcohol, they can’t just take one drink and then other people could just have a drink and be done with it. With food it’s the same way and it’s really interesting, unfortunately, I happen to be on the more addictive end of that, and so I have to be really careful with what I eat. And for the past six to eight months, I haven’t been careful enough. So there you go, there is the story. That’s the skinny on it, Bart.
Bart Blair: There’s the skinny. Thanks for your transparency and your honesty, you look good, though, you know your face bright and shiny…
Jeff Keady: Awe, shucks.
Bart Blair: No special effects, no filters, you look good, you sound good. And well, you know what, I just want to say again, I really appreciate you taking the time with us. I respect what you’ve done, and the ministry that you and Johnny have had. And yep, as a pastor, I can’t overstate just the influence that you’ve had. I’ve, on several occasions, reached out to people like Dave Jacobs, who has been a long-time friend of yours and part of the podcast, and I’ve built a relationship with him as well as some other people that I would have never even probably known about if it hadn’t been for the podcast that you guys are doing. So really appreciate it, and again, thanks for taking the time with us today.
Jeff Keady: Yeah, well, that’s the blessing, that’s the blessing of doing a podcast like that. And, Bart, I’ll just put a bow on it by saying, stay curious, stay humble, and keep learning. When I went back to school for my master’s degree in 2010, it was absolutely life-changing to me. What I learned and the people that I got to meet, it was absolutely life-changing. So if I could encourage anybody, just keep learning, keep growing, new conversations, new ideas, new people, and never stop. So it’s been great to be with you guys, good to get to know you, Jason, and Bart, to make our acquaintance yet again. It’s awesome, and thanks for what you guys are doing.