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About David Zahl

David Zahl is the director of Mockingbird Ministries and editor-in-chief of the Mockingbird blog. He and his wife Cate reside in Charlottesville, VA, with their three sons, where David also serves on the staff of Christ Episcopal Church (

Contact David Zahl

Author Archive

    Confessions of a Former Youth Minister

    At one point, I wrote a goodbye scene to show how my hard-drinking, cowboy daddy had bailed out on me when I hit puberty. When I actually searched for the teenage reminiscences to prove this, the facts told a different story: my daddy had continued to pick me up on time and make me breakfast, […]

    Law and Gospel in Youth Ministry

    So grateful to Rooted for inviting me to give this presentation back in August, which went public today. Hopefully the content applies beyond any specific age group!


    Another Year Begins: An Epiphany for the Haters (and Anyone Else Tempted, Like Me, to Call it on 2021)

    “Make the world go away / Just get it off my shoulder.” Elvis sang those lines in 1970 and the refrain has been ringing in my head the last few days. This is a week, after all, usually spent generating excitement about the new year. Brainstorming, organizing, “casting vision,” setting balls in motion, girding loins, […]

    January Playlist

    Click here to listen on Spotify.

    Mockingbird Update: What’s in Store for 2021 and How You Can Help

    The rumors are true: 2021 is almost here! Much as I hope you’ve been spared the brunt of this year’s challenges, odds are, that January page in the calendar looks mighty enticing. I know it does for me.

    At the same time, I couldn’t think of a better season to have released a new 365-day Mockingbird Devotional (Daily Grace). Just so happens we’d been working away on it for three-plus years! So the launch felt providential, as did that for the Sports Issue of our print magazine, which also shipped last month. The response to both thus far has been nothing short of rapturous. In fact, the initial print-run of the devotional sold out in about two weeks (now back in stock!).

    As folks have been forced to look online for spiritual sustenance, we’ve been gratified to hear how Mockingbird has served as a lifeline of hope and faith. Our virtual audience increased by almost 30% during COVID, and episodes of our principal podcast, The Mockingcast, now average over 10,000 downloads. Our recent Advent video series attracted close to 3000 views per installment.

    I am so grateful God put us in such a strong position to minister grace to people during this trying time. No “pivot” required!

    What’s next? First up in 2021 is the long-awaited launch of the overhauled, which we cannot wait for you to see! A whole new level, right in the nick of time. While we wait to discover what form our events can take — likely some mixture of in-person and virtual (look for an announcement soon) — we’ve been working on several exciting new podcast and video projects. We’re also prepping the Surprise Issue of the magazine and an updated, hardcover edition of Grace in Addiction.

    All this while the parade of high-quality written and audio content continues apace.

    How You Can Help

    Mockingbird relies on the generosity of individual donors and churches to fund its operations. We need to raise $360,000 to keep fulfilling our mission in 2021. For more info about where the money goes, click here. Three easy ways to help would be:

    1. Become a monthly supporter. Close to 400 people give automatically to Mbird every month, anywhere from $20 to $2000. We would love to see that number increase. Remember, anyone who signs up for monthly giving will receive a complimentary subscription to The Mockingbird. Same goes for those who give one-time gifts of $500 or more.
    2. See if your church can help. A handful of “partner” churches support us every year with funds from their outreach budgets. Others give via discretionary accounts. If you attend a church that is benefiting from our ministry but hasn’t gotten behind Mbird “officially” yet, be our advocate! Email us at with any leads.
    3. Spread the word. If you’re not in a place where you can give, there are other ways to pitch in. Write a review of one of our books on Amazon. Rate one of our podcasts on iTunes. Publicize Mbird articles on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram. Use one of our resources at your church or in your small group. Invite someone to an event, once they resume. Above all, pray for us!

    If you believe in what we’re doing and want to ensure that it continues, consider making a donation to Mockingbird today. Thanks for reading, and we wish you the happiest of new years.

    Consuming 2020: Favorite Music, Television, Podcasts, Journalism, Humor, and Publications

    Time for our annual round up of favorites. As always, these are predominantly personal picks, albeit with an eye toward Mocking-resonance. Click here to read last year’s list. Deep breath: Music Most of my musical consumption this year tracked with the 2020 episodes of The Well of Sound, which covered Allen Toussaint, Van Halen, Supergroups, […]

    Pot Kettle Black: Keeping the Mocking-Score in 2020

    For those looking to while away the yuletide coma, here’s a rundown of what content got traction in 2020. It is limited to stuff that was posted in 2020 (pre-Dec 15th), rather than viewed then. Click here to read last year’s round-up. Enjoy! Most Popular Posts Published in the Past 12 Months People I Am […]

    Batteries Not Included

    Hello friends. I’ve just posted the new episode of The Mockingcast, Batteries Not Included,” which, as RJ explains in the prelude, will be our final episode of the year.

    Those who follow us on social media know that, just after the cast was recorded, co-host Sarah Condon received some unbelievably tragic news. You can read her message here, but please please please keep Sarah and her family in your prayers.

    Given the context, we were a little hesitant to release the episode, but she, RJ, and I are ultimately hopeful that it could speak some comfort to those who are hurting with/for her. It certainly did me. You can listen here. The blurb is as follows:

    In which RJ, Sarah, and Dave talk mer-baby mishaps, library impermanence, celebrity pastors, and their increasing distaste for the season of Advent.

    • Click here to read Elizabeth Faidley’s write-up of the Pearl the Mermaid Baby Saga, which includes a picture of you-know-who (you’ve been warned).
    • Click here to read Ben Dolnick’s piece about Library Books.
    • Click here to peruse our gift guide.
    • Click here to read Ruth Graham’s article on the Rise and Fall of Carl Lentz.
    • Click here to read the article on Sad Clowns.
    • Click here to read David French’s column on The Crisis of Christian Celebrity.
    • Click here to read Walter Russell Mead’s meditation on Advent.

    Per the announcement at the beginning, you can support The Mockingcast by texting “Mcast” to 77948 (or going here). As always, thank you SO much for listening — thank you even more for praying — and we look forward to coming back at you in 2021.

    A Mockingbird Gift Guide: 2020 Edition

    That time again! Click here to check out last year’s guide. For the Therapist Looking to Acknowledge the Season Without Triggering Any Patients: A WAUmanufacture Krippsta Minimalist nativity scene For the Friend From College With Whom You Re-Connected During COVID and Want to Commemorate That Somehow: A Masked Santa ornament or Joe Exotic action figure […]

    Another Week Ends: Liam’s Hymn, UnOptimistic Hope, Medical Forgiveness, Neo-Feudalism, Toxic Productivity, Bradbury Imputation, and Bee Gees

    1. First up, just in the nick of time, Oasis main-man/’90s troublemaker Liam Gallagher ushers us into the season with a soul-stirring hymn to the “kind of love that’ll be there when the world is at its worst.” The tune is what they call a real belter, potent enough to close out the next season […]

    Thou Shalt Be Needed but Never Needy: Sad Clowns, Lonely Husbands, and COVID Friendships

    Sad clowns. That’s the term used to describe me and my peers. It’s not flattering. As far as I know, it was coined in a Boston Globe article a few years ago about middle-aged male loneliness. A sad clown is a man of a certain age whose default agreeableness and readymade dad jokes mask his […]

    Count Your Midlife Blessings (At Your Own Risk)

    It’s not often that people my age ask me why they might want to go to church. Perhaps this is because mid-life tends not to be a time when people are looking for one more thing to do. They’re definitely not looking for one more thing to feel bad about not doing. But occasionally, after […]