grow a healthy church


How Two Pastors Became Podcasters: Jeff Keady, The Interview

This year I’m going to interview pastors from around the globe.

My first guest is Jeff Keady, Senior Pastor of Dover Church, Iowa and founder of the 200 Churches Podcast which he hosts with Jonny Craig.

They are passionate about helping pastors grow a healthy church.

This is an edited transcript of the interview and the complete audio is available at the end of the post.

John Finkelde: Jeff, pick five words that would describe your church.

Jeff Keady: How about, everyone is all messed up!

The first word that would describe our church would be love. As we build loving relationships, we literally put the other person first, and then serve in ways that are filled with love. How can you not draw people to the source of love, Jesus Christ?

Another word would be relationships. You know some churches are busy with programs, and some are busy with services. It is easy for some churches to do programs and do services and have activities, but be very short on relationships.

The third one would be service. You can’t really love others if you’re not willing to serve them. Jesus said, “The greatest leader among you is going to be the greatest servant among you.”

Then the fourth word I’d give would be freedom. Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” A book that we’ve worked with in our church for several years has been a book called The Cure by John Lynch, Bill Thrall and Bruce McNicol. It talks a lot about freedom that is based in the grace of God, and if the gospel doesn’t bring joy, peace, love and freedom, then we’ve got the wrong gospel.

John Finkelde:    What would you say is the biggest challenge of pastoring a small/medium sized church?


Jeff Keady: It’s a huge challenge to increase your self-awareness especially in the area of your weaknesses. As a pastor you’re going to get flak from people about your weaknesses. 

Even if you come in to the church and you tell them right up front, “Hey, I’m weak in this area” they’re still going to come at you at times when you’re falling down.

If we can be honest and say, “Okay, I see the weaknesses, and I also see the consequences of being weak in this area, and now the challenge is that I will give those responsibilities, over to somebody who’s good at it, who’s better than me.” 

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John Finkelde:                   What would you say to your 30 year old self?

Jeff Keady:                         My partner here in ministry, Jonny Craig, is going to be 30 this year and the things that I tell him are: spend time with your kids, set your priorities, do the things you know you should do and don’t take it for granted that you’re in your 30’s or that your 30’s are going to last forever.

John Finkelde: What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made in ministry?

Jeff Keady: The worst mistake would be to not understand the people in my church. 

When they come to me with an issue and I’ve not taken seriously enough at times their angst. 

In my younger years one of my members came to me and said, “You know Jeff, you just think everything is no big deal.” 

I was talking to him about a particular situation and he said, “Why should I even talk to you about it. You don’t think it’s a big deal.” 

I said, “Why do you think that?” He said, “Well you said it’s no big deal.” I had to look him right in the eye and I said, “Hey, this is a big deal and I apologize if I’ve downplayed it.” 


200 churches podcast


John Finkelde: What got you into podcasting?

Jeff Keady: A couple of years ago, I was following Michael Hyatt. He said he was going to start a podcast. I didn’t really know what that was and so I started listening to it. Then one of my staff, Jonny Craig, joked with me one day, “You and I ought to do a podcast,” and we laughed. 

A couple of weeks went by and one day I said to him, “Hey, let’s do a podcast and let’s do the first episode today.” He’s like, “No. What are you talking about?”

This is one thing that I remember John Maxwell saying all the time, “Whenever you first do something, it’s always going to be bad.” In every adventure I’ve been involved in we get the bad ones out of the way and then we can get good at it.” 

We threw everything together and we were up and running literally in 8 days.

The mission of the podcast is to provide ministry encouragement to pastors of small churches.

If there’s one thing I know from experience they need is encouragement. They need a light hearted approach and that’s what we try to do. 

We’ve just started our fourth year of the 200 churches podcast.

John Finkelde:                   What results have you seen from the podcast that have encouraged you to keep going?

Jeff Keady:                         Right now, we’re pushing 400 listens in the first week of every episode. 

When you ask for fruit though, I was out one Friday and I was out with my wife and I saw that an email had come on my phone from the 200churches line. 

I handed it to her and I said, “Would you read this while we drive?”

This lady started in and she said, “My husband’s been having a really hard time.” She said, “Today’s my husband’s day off, he got called out. I’m at home and I’m making decorations for our mission’s conference. 

I just decided I would look for something to listen to that might give you some hope and ministry because things are really going bad.” 

She said, “I typed in encouragement and your podcast came up and I started listening and I listened all afternoon and some of them I listened to more than once. 

When my husband got home, he and I, listened to them and we had tears in our eyes, we laughed and by the end of the day we had been more than encouraged.” 

My wife is reading the email while I’m driving down the highway and I’m bawling!


200 churches podcast


John Finkelde:                   Do you listen to other podcasts besides the 200 churches podcast?

Jeff Keady:                         I’ve got a podcast called Theology on Mission. Two guys at Northern Seminary in Chicago. It’s very funny and they talk about the intersection of theology and culture.

John Finkelde:                   What’s the best book you’ve read lately?

Jeff Keady:                         The first one is by a guy named Edwin Friedman called A Failure of Nerve. This is a leadership book that changed my approach to my own understanding of my leadership more than any book ever.

Then the other book …  I started this plan with the bible app which anybody can get on their phone, the bible app; it’s called New Every 30. It basically takes you through the New Testament in 30 days. This is really been revolutionary for my mind and for my soul.

John Finkelde:                   Jeff, it’s been fabulous having you on the blog. Thanks so much for joining me.

Jeff Keady:                         John, thank you very much and I wish you the best.

Make sure you subscribe to the the the 200 Churches Podcast. It’s a stellar ministry to pastors and church leaders.

John is a wellspring of information, experience and advice in all things church. His responses were often out of the box of what's been said before.
Ps Christie Blaikie
Oasis Church

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