Eight Years of APJ, and What’s Ahead
Today we wrap up year eight on the Ask Pastor John podcast. Amazing. The time has passed so quickly. The run of this podcast recently dawned on me when I read an APJ email from a young man who said he started listening to the podcast shortly after he was converted and is now entering seminary and still listening. I had to stop and compute that kind of duration. We’ve been doing this a while.
So here we are, finishing up year eight. And as we do, I wanted to give you a glance at the numbers of where the podcast is at now. Over these eight years, we have released 1,600 episodes in this podcast, starting back on John Piper’s birthday, on January 11, 2013. That was episode #1. And with all the special and unnumbered episodes, that’s a tally of 1,600 episodes to date.
On those episodes, Pastor John’s transcripts alone represent 1.7 million words. Just to put that into perspective, imagine the entire Lord of the Rings series, read them once and then again and then a third time — that’s the equivalent of the word count of John Piper’s episodes in APJ. Oh, and you’d have to read The Hobbit three times too.
But of course, this podcast is meant to be heard with ears. And if you tally up the plays on all those episodes, APJ episodes have been listened to 180 million times. That’s an average of over 112,000 plays per episode. So encouraging. Not only do the episodes get listened to as we release them, but people regularly access those episodes like an archive of on-demand pastoral answers when needs and questions arise. I cannot tell you how gratifying it is to invest my life on a project that has such long-term use and value to so many.
And as I study the numbers, what strikes me is the growth we’ve seen in YouTube. Yes, YouTube. As many of you know, for a few years now we’ve released each APJ episode as a video in YouTube. In 2019 those episodes accounted for 6.7 million plays. That number doubled this year. In 2020 we saw 13.2 million plays. Just in YouTube. And it continues to be a growing platform for our podcast. It will be interesting to see what 2021 has in store for APJ on YouTube. And if that’s you, listening or watching to this episode right now, thank you for investing so much attention into the channel. Super encouraging.
Well, there’s much to be encouraged about as we close out the year. And recently Pastor John visited the DG office in Minneapolis in order to ponder the meaning of 2020, and to talk about why we release so many teaching resources. And I want to play for you what he said. Here’s Pastor John.
Fresh Air from Another World
It may seem strange to you as I ponder the meaning of 2020 and look back over a pandemic, and political intrigue and tension, and all kinds of outrage and division inside and outside the church, and natural disasters. As I look back over this extraordinary year, I find myself reacting perhaps differently than others because I feel like I’ve been living in another world — namely, the world of Ephesians:
- a reality with election before the foundation of the world unto holiness;
- the reality of predestination unto sonship through Jesus Christ, to the praise of the glory of God;
- the reality of redemption by the blood of the Son of God for the forgiveness of our trespasses;
- the reality of the sovereign God reaching into my dead heart and giving me life;
- the reality of sealing with the Holy Spirit;
- the reality that Paul describes in chapter 2 about being separated from the Messiah and cut off from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, and without hope in the world.
And I stepped back and said, “That’s another world besides the 2020 that people are talking about.” That hit me when I was reading Hebrews the other day. The author comes to 5:12 and he says, “By this time you ought to be teachers.” Everybody, all Christians, by this time you ought to be teachers. And I felt like nobody knows the world of Ephesians in the world. In the church, who knows what it means to be elect and predestined and redeemed and sealed and born again, participants in the promises of Israel, and part of the commonwealth of the people of God? Who even functions in those categories?
Tidal Wave of Teaching
And it hit me: what we need is a tidal wave of teachers. I mean, as Paul looked out on an empire of ignorance about Christianity, do you remember what he did in Ephesus? When he got to Ephesus, it says he preached in the synagogue for three months, arguing about these things because they didn’t know anything about them, and they kicked him out. And do you know what he did next? He holed up for two years, and it says every day — every day for two years — he teaches. And the result: “All the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:8–10).
“I want to be a part of a Spirit-anointed movement of teaching in this world. I want to fill Jerusalem with my teaching.”
So, I find myself here at the end of 2020 looking out over a sea of ignorance. And I think of the election, and I think of the pandemic, and I think of the natural disasters. Those are bubbles popping on a sea of ignorance, and everything in me says I want to be a part of a Spirit-anointed movement of teaching in this world. I want to fill Jerusalem with my teaching (Acts 5:28). I want to fill America and fill the nations with teaching, because there’s no other way people could make any informed thoughts, inclinations, decisions, loves about the truth if they don’t know what it is.
And so, here I am in the offices of Desiring God, saying I am so glad that’s what we do. We exist to bring people to glorify God, by making them satisfied more in God than in anything, by teaching and teaching and teaching about his truth and worth and beauty, all based on the Bible.
Spread Joy with Us
Many of you know all about that. Others of you are brand new to us. We exist because of your partnership.
If you’re a veteran and you love what we do, if you’re brand new and that just rings true to you, my invitation here at the end of the year is simply to join us as a financial partner. Whether you give a little or you give a lot, whether you give once or you give monthly — whatever you do — if that rings true, I invite you to join us. And as we close the year, just take heart. Take heart because God has said,
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, “My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose.” (Isaiah 46:9–10)
He’s going to do it. The world just needs to know. They need teaching.
Yes, the world needs a lot more teaching. And that’s one reason why we are up to 1,600 APJ episodes and counting — Lord willing, with many more to come, and 180 million episode plays all-time.
As you might imagine, this podcast is not free to make and distribute and promote around the world. It only happens through the joyful investment of our ministry partners. And that can be you. As we near the end of year eight, you can support us for the first time, or you can extend your support at desiringgod.org/donate.
Speaking of God’s truth and worth and beauty, all based on the Bible, on Friday we launch a new year, and that means many of us reset our Bible-reading plans. Pastor John has a Bible-reading plan he likes, and I’ll tell you which one it is on Friday. And I’ll ask Pastor John how we can prepare for the sustained discipline and energy it will take to read the entire Bible throughout the year ahead. He’s back in the studio with me on Friday for that.
Let’s do this another eight years. Another 1,600 episodes. Another 180 million plays. Why not? Lord willing, we can — a second tidal wave of teaching, with you alongside us. So, would you please pray for us as our labors enter a new year? Your prayers for Pastor John and myself would be greatly appreciated.
And with that, year eight ends. On Friday we launch year nine. I’m Tony Reinke, and we’ll see you in 2021!