Introducing The Field Notes Podcast

by Seth Richardson

Here at the Telos Lab for Congregational Discovery, we want to offer more than disembodied statistics. We curate the real-life stories behind all the numbers that track ministry trends. We illuminate how these stories highlight context-specific challenges and fresh ideas and how those stories intersect with the particulars of a local place.

That’s where The Field Notes Podcast comes in: Like an ethnographer jotting down observations and impressions while being embedded with a particular people in a particular place, we are curating rich, thick data about how theology/leadership get real on the ground. In a sense, the podcast is offering a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the kind work we get our hands dirty with at the Telos Lab. 

Our hope is that listening to how leaders are wrestling with and discovering the Spirit of God at work in their context will provoke new questions or illuminate new possibilities  for faithful ministry in yours.

This is public work. Our aim is for public engagement: accessing and exploring the materials of our concrete, ordinary, socially-specific and embedded lives where the work of ministry necessarily unfolds. This is where Christ is present, working, and renewing all things. We also aim for this work to be public in the sense of accessibility – not merely elite content for those who can afford to pay, but as accessible as possible. 

This is where you can join us. (1) We want to hear from you—what you’re wrestling with, what you’re seeing, where you’re seeing new life break forth. (2) If you believe in this kind of work, we would love for you to contribute financially to make sure this work can remain as public and accessible as possible. 

Here’s what we’ll do on the podcast: We’ll hear from practitioners (we assume every practitioner is a theologian, too). This podcast is all about hearing their stories. We believe the particulars of others helps develop an imagination for how the Spirit is moving and sanctifying our our particularities 

We will root our practitioner’s experience in the particulars of place and tradition. There is no de-contextualized theology … no perspective that is free of bias … our attempts to faithfully witness to the Gospel of Jesus are always, necessarily shaped for and by place and tradition. The best thing we can do is reckon with that. Then we’ll always make two moves: (1) exploring a place of confusion, tension, or struggle, but also (2) looking toward places of hope, newness, and Spirit-filled possibility. 

Always, we want to hear from you. Let us know what listening provokes in you. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can engage directly with the Telos Lab and create a custom research project for your community, drop me an email. I would love to chat.

Listen to our first episode with the Rev. Juliet Liu

As the director of the Telos Lab for Congregational Discovery, Seth Richardson is the creative architect, shaping the work of Lab to align with the vision of Telos and adapt to the complex and ever-shifting challenges ministry leaders face. He also functions as the lead researcher, working directly with local leaders in the design and execution of custom projects. Seth has studied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Wheaton Graduate School, and Northern Seminary, where his doctoral research weaves together theological and sociological disciplines. Seth’s heart and vision for the Lab is grounded in his passion for all the particulars of local church ministry. An Anglican priest, he has served in a variety of roles in churches in Chicago and Arkansas for over a decade. Seth is also a coach for Gravity Leadership and a writer for Missio Alliance. Seth lives with his wife and two daughters in Little Rock, Arkansas.