We’re three days into 2022, and as our collective desire for self-improvement is at its zenith, the two most popular podcasts in the nation on Apple podcasts are about the Bible.
Last January, I wrote at length about the No. 1 podcast: The Bible in a Year, hosted by Fr. Mike Schmitz and produced by Catholic group Ascension Presents. The show features Fr. Schmitz — better known to listeners as Fr. Mike — reading Scripture and explaining its historical context and theological meaning.
Now heading into its second year, the podcast is once again the most downloaded show in the U.S. on iTunes, and No. 7 on Spotify’s podcast charts.
The Bible in a Year remained one of the nation’s top downloaded shows for most of 2021 and surpassed 85 million downloads about halfway through the year. By November 2021, the podcast had seen 142 million downloads from all over the world. The show was so successful that Ascension Press took out a billboard ad in Times Square during the holiday season, running from December 19 of last year until January 9.
But it’s not the only religious podcast to top the charts in the U.S. at the start of 2022. The second most popular podcast in the U.S. today is The Bible Recap, produced by D-Group, a network of Christian accountability groups. The Bible Recap walks listeners through a plan to read the entire Bible in a year. The podcast is at No. 2 on Apple podcasts and No. 8 on Spotify, right behind The Bible in a Year.
I find this news as consoling this year as I did last year. It’s reassuring to see such a tangible reminder that, despite the division and turmoil we witness daily — or perhaps precisely because of that division and turmoil — so many remain hungry for God. It’s consoling, too, to witness enterprising faith leaders who are finding a way to feed that hunger using new media.