Is Your Church Social? Part 18 – Podcasts – What Is A Podcast?

 Podcasting pic

We’ve been looking at various elements of the social media.  So far we’ve discussed video sharing on sites like YouTube, and Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Now I want to get all high-tech on you.  It’s not really all that high-tech, but it is a bit more technical than Facebook or Twitter.  Then again most things are.  We’re talking about podcasts.  So, what’s a podcast?

What’s A Podcast?
A podcast is like a pre-recorded online radio show.  While the idea and technology for distributing pre-recorded content online has been around for over a decade, it did not become popular with the masses until Apple’s iTunes became popular and the use of mp3 players became popular.  The most popular mp3 player?…none other than the iPod.  Thus the term “podcasting” (iPod broadcasting) took hold.  Though, if you prefer not to associate the technology with the iPod, you could simply call it, “syndication of pre-recorded audio capable of being automatically loaded to an mp3 player.”  I do want to clarify that while the term podcast seems to indicate that this is for iPods (and I’m sure Apple wants it that way), podcasting works with pretty much any mp3 player.  It’ doesn’t have to be an iPod.

What Makes A Podcast A Podcast?
The key to podcasting that makes it different from other forms of audio sharing is the use of RSS.  RSS (Really Simple Syndication) allows you to post your podcast and your listeners to automatically receive that podcast and have it automatically loaded to their mp3 player.  Without RSS, you’re just posting or sending audio.  The key is how easy the distribution is.  Listeners to your podcast don’t have to go to your website and they don’t have to download the podcast to their computer and then upload it to their mp3 player.  Their mp3 player’s software (or iTunes) automatically does all that for them.  All they have to do it plug in their mp3 player and sync it.  This makes podcasting very easy and very portable for the listeners.

What Does This Have To Do With My Church?
Good question.  As with all these technologies, that’s up to you, but here are some reasons for your church to consider podcasting.

  1. You can easily and cheaply distribute sermons.
  2. For many, audio is more engaging than reading (I’m not talking novels here, I’m talking about church related material).
  3. The average commute for an American today is around 80 minutes a day.  That’s 80 minutes when people are sitting in a car…usually listening to something.
  4. Anyone can do a podcast (not just your pastor).
  5. The younger generations are into podcasting.
  6. You can make your church’s podcast available to millions of people.
  7. It’s free…sort of.  (I’ll get into that in a later article.)

A lot of people think that iTunes is simply an online store for music.  You go to iTunes, search for the music you want, and buy it for about 99 cents a song.  Well, yes, you can do that, but iTunes is so much more.  You can find video, movies, TV shows, audio books, radio programs and…Podcasts.  The best part is they offer podcasting for free both to the person who created the podcast and wants to upload it and to the listeners.  So, the total cost of distributing your podcast for both you and your listeners is $0.00, a pretty reasonable price.  Now consider that iTunes is used by hundreds of millions of people.  Sure, you’re probably not going to reach hundreds of millions of people, but there is potential to reach a significant number of people and to reach people you would never have come in contact with through other means.

Does your church have a podcast?  If so, tell us about it.

About the author

Kurt Steinbrueck


  • Kurt, good article. We've been been podcasting our our sermon messages for about 18 months now. It only takes me about 30 minutes to rip the audio of the service from a CD, edit out the non-sermon parts, tweak the audio levels, upload it to the server and publish it. I usually do it during our second service, so even before that service is over audio from the first service is already on the site.

    – Paul

  • Hi Paul,

    Thanks. I'm glad to hear your church has been using podcasting for so long, it sounds like you're really ahead of the curve on this. I think a lot of folks think that podcasting is a huge undertaking, but that doesn't have to be the case. Your church is a great example. Only thirty minutes a week. That's great!


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