EMF (Educational Media Foundation), the parent company for K-LOVE, Air1, and WTA MEDIA, has launched a podcast platform, AccessMore, that has a faith-based library of content for Christians. Fans can check out the behind-the-scenes limited series by director Jon Erwin about I Still Believe, or “Hey, It’s the Luskos!”, Elevation eKidz’ “Into the Portal” or “Rebecca St. James Friends & Family.” And then there’s the “Dare to Be” podcast by friends and collaborators Natalie Grant and Charlotte Gambill.
The Grammy-nominated Grant and the international speaker, author, and pastor Gambill met fifteen years ago in what was clearly a God-ordained moment, long before they knew what a podcast was.
Gambill had arrived early for a conference she was to speak at and joined in with the worship service the night prior to her engagement. During a prayer time, with her head bowed and her eyes closed, she heard an audible male voice in the middle of this women’s conference tell her to open her eyes, turn around, and look for the woman in the orange sweatshirt. Gambill laughs now, recounting that story, assuring her listeners that this is not the “typical” way she hears God speak.
“I was like, no way!” the Englishwoman shares. “The voice said that the woman was part of my future. I turned to the person I was with and they said, ‘Yes, there’s a woman in an orange sweatshirt back there,’ as the pastor sitting behind us leaned over and asked me to help take up the offering. And then they handed me a microphone and asked me to introduce the next singer, who I didn’t know. And I’m up there reading the bio card and ...the woman in the sweatshirt is walking up toward the stage.”
The future podcasters met in the aisle as Gambill headed back to her seat and Grant headed up on stage. Both say that God threw them together and that fifteen years later, they have seen how God caused a connection for more than just joint vacations and friendship. It’s just too intentional.
“I have struggled with infertility,” Grant explains, “and so had Char so she helped me through it. Then we started the Dare to Move event, and pretty soon women were telling us that we weren’t bringing the event to where they were but that they wanted to lean in and listen to the conversations. How could we do that?”
“When they said we could do a podcast, I was like what is a pod and why are we casting it?’” she continues, laughing. “We’re not the cool kids.”
Thanks to a pre-existing relationship with EMF thanks to twenty-three years in the Contemporary Christian music industry, Grant saw their new opportunity, AccessMore, as a perfect place to share the conversations she and Gambill would have. “I trust them and their programming,” she said, “and I recognize that the [imaginary listener] Becky they talk about as the audience, that she is me.”
The collaborators didn’t launch their podcast with an agenda, just choosing to talk about the things that mattered to them; even their first episode didn’t end up being their launch point because there were pressing things to discuss when COVID-19 hit. They wanted to be clear that they were focused on things that the women who hear them would be focused on, like the live Q&As they host during the conference. And all of that remains focused on inviting people to pull up a chair to the table - both where they are sitting as friends over a cup of coffee and the table of participation in holy communion with Jesus that He’s set.
In the midst of the struggle in the United States and around the world for equality, the new podcasters are aware that your seat at the table - if you are even afforded one - carries weight. Gambill, who co-pastors Life Church UK with her husband Steve, sees that people want to see authenticity, that they want to see our real hearts.
“Whether you set up a table in the dining room or the board room, you know there’s who sits in which chair, who the head of the table is. When someone invites you to the table, it changes everything,” proposed Gambill. “It opens us up to hear differently, to have a different perspective. Not everyone says, ‘come on over, and pull up a chair.”
“My table in my mind is open to everyone,” agreed Grant, “but the last few weeks have challenged me to take a look at who is sitting at my table, and how my life is a reflection of what I speak. How do you know if you’ve made your politics an idol? Are you concerned with the right versus the left, or are you concerned with the kingdom of God versus the kingdom of darkness? Jesus didn’t have to agree with everyone but He knew out of relationship and community that reconciliation starts.”
Gambill continued, “Nat and I know we’re not in ‘that’ chair, that Christ is. All of the other chairs are equal. We recognize that our interpretation isn’t the only interpretation, that God’s voice is the head of the table. So we’re focused on keeping Christ in that chair.”
“We’re going to love as well as we can.”