These two Christian men started a podcast to have the difficult conversations.
FORT WALTON BEACH — Andre Harrell II, aka L.A., isn’t much of a football guy, but he understands what it means when a team hunkers down together before a big play.
It’s why he and Austin Willis named their podcast “The Huddle.” In the podcast, which was released under Kingdom Over Castles ministry, the two chat about various topics of humanity with a ministerial twist.
“One of the things we do poorly as believers is we tell people what to do, but we don’t give them strategy or how to do it,” Harrell said. “It’s funny, it actually reminds me of football – which I have zero athletic capabilities – but (Willis) played football and I remember sitting and I was like, ‘You know how you have this huddle, where you’re talking about your game plans? That’s where that title came from. We end each episode with a game plan on how to walk out the topics we’re discussing.”
The hosts wrapped season 1 with 12 episodes two weeks ago and will start season 2 soon, releasing an episode weekly. Kingdom Over Castles’ “The Huddle” is available on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts and KingdomOverCastles.com/the-huddle/.
“The Huddle” happened organically.
Harrell and Willis practically do everything together, Willis said. Having thoughtful, genuine conversations was already the framework of their friendship.
They originally planned to announce the podcast at Kingdom Over Castle ministry’s Easter production, but it was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“That actually helped a lot, because we were just sitting around anyway,” Harrell said. “It gave us time to figure out how to put it together and edit everything.”
The two started recording in April with one microphone and a whole lot of talking over each other. Over time, though, their equipment and chemistry improved.
“As the podcast went on, you can hear and tell we got more comfortable on the podcast,” Harrell said. “A lot more of our personality came out – we’re laughing and joking.”
A mutual favorite episode is “Allow ME to Introduce Myself.”
“It’s basically talking about canceling the stereotypes we could have toward one another,” Harrell said. “We are giving people an opportunity to show who they are as a person.”
“We talk a lot about putting people in boxes and how we miss out on the complexity of people,” Willis said. “We explore that through our own personal experiences. I think that’s one in season one that’s very helpful and worth going back to.”
Harrell looks forward to the first episode of season 2, in which they will interview Jeff Yates, the pastor of Ocean City Church.
“We’re talking about leadership, not just in ministry, but leadership in general,” Harrell said. “His story, he’s someone who has always inspired me. We’re talking about how he was actually thrust into leadership after losing his father-in-law and where he was able to pick himself up, go on and find his voice in ministry.”
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Their discussion topics tackle the elephant in the room, Harrell said. They frequently reference scripture, but it’s not “preach-y,” he said.
“I think the misconception, especially with Christians, is we don’t have these conversations, ‘We don’t talk about sex. We don’t talk about relationships. We don’t talk about little things like our favorite foods,’” Harrell said. “This platform shows we can have these conversations and we do have those conversations … it shows people we’re humans.”
Plus, the two couldn’t separate ministry from the podcast if they tried.
“When you have a relationship with someone and you’ve done life (with them) for a certain amount of time, there’s certain stories you can’t tell without a person,” Willis said. “As believers, we say we believe Jesus is our best friend, the person we do our life with. It’s hard to tell our stories, our opinions without him. That’s where ministry just naturally comes in. In explaining your point of view and what you believe, you explain his point of view and what he taught in the Bible. We’re doing life with Jesus.”
Recording has been therapeutic, Harrell and Willis said. Willis calls it a blessing.
“People used to ask me, what would you do if money wasn’t a factor?’” Willis said. “I would always say, ‘Just talk to people.’ It’s really just for me. I’ll go back and listen to the podcast and they really help me later on and it ends up helping other people as well. There’s so many thoughts I have about certain things, and a lot of times we don’t have a platform to share those thoughts. It gave me an opportunity to put my thoughts somewhere I could go back listen.”