Last week we looked at what a podcast is, basically a pre-recorded, online, radio show that is distributed via RSS to all those who subscribe to the feed. Ok, so it may sound like a neat concept. I’ve always wanted to do a radio show, but is this really for churches? Should your church podcast and, if so, why?
Church Resource Podcasting
Podcast For Your Members:
If your church is like my church, you never have perfect attendance from all your church members, except maybe on Christmas and Easter. Sure some members are just lazy or not all that interested, but some, if not most, miss church for legitimate reasons. Maybe they are sick. Maybe they had a family emergency. Maybe they’re traveling. Your church also probably has some members physically unable to make it to church each week. For those who are interested, they may very well wish they could have been there and would love to be able to participate in the service or at least listen to the sermon. Podcasting will let them.
Not Just Sermons:
Podcasting can also give you a way to engage your congregation. Sermon podcasting is a great place to start, but you can go beyond sermons to short bible lessons, announcements, a youth group podcast, and others. Podcasting can help make church a 7 day a week activity instead of just a Sunday and possibly Wednesday activity.
Podcast For Your Church’s Budget:
You may already provide cds of sermons for people who miss the service. That’s great, but I’d suggest that podcasting has three great advantages over cds.
- Podcasts are accessible from anywhere as long as you have a computer and an Internet connection. If a member is traveling, they don’t have to wait to listen to the podcast. This is especially nice because usually people have time and would love to listen to something while traveling.
- Podcasts are free. How much does your church spend on cds? Now imagine if you can get 25% of the people who get cds to start using the podcasts instead. That could save your church a couple hundred dollars over a year.
- Podcasts are quick. If you reproduce cds, it probably takes a significant amount of time. For most churches each cd burned takes from 2-5 minutes. If you burn 100 cds, that will take 3-9 hours just for the reproducing. With podcasting you just make a digital copy on your computer and upload it for the podcast. Not including any editing time (which you would have to do for a cd as well) you could be done in a just a couple minutes instead of a couple hours.
Church Marketing Podcasting
Podcast For Other Christians:
Many Christians are looking for additional resources for their spiritual walk. I mentioned in my last post that iTunes allows churches to post their podcasts on iTunes for free. This makes your podcast accessible to anyone, including Christians who do not attend your church. By making your sermons and other podcasts available to everyone, these non-member Christians will be able to listen to your podcasts as part of their daily walk with the Lord. These people may just walk through your church doors one day.
Podcast for Non-Christians:
There are people all over the world going through struggles, searching for an answer. You have that answer. Podcasting on sites like iTunes can let your church minister to these people. You can do this with sermons that deal with specific issue, Bible lessons about certain topics, or Q and A podcasts addressing various questions people may have. Podcasting about coping with marriage issues or addictions can a good way to reach out to the non-believing world desperately wanting answers and help. Podcasting about pop issues and subjects is another way to reach people. Some people aren’t looking for help, but are looking for information and opinions about various current events and people.
Help Them Find You:
If you want non-church members to find your podcasts, the first thing you need to do is make your podcast available online through various sources. The two key places you should make your podcast available is your church website and iTunes. Facebook is another good place where your members can let people know about recent podcasts. The second thing you need to do is use titles and descriptions which include words and phrases people search for. That may mean that you need to “de-christianize” the title of a sermon to use words and phrases used by the rest of the world. Regardless, the key is to think about the words and phrases people may use to search about the topic of the podcast and then incorporate those words and phrases into the title. You should also use your Church’s name as the author/artist. That way people will see your church’s name and, if/when they decide to visit, they will know where to go.
Podcasting can be a great outreach and/or inreach tool for the church. The average American has an 80 minute commute. They want something to help pass the time. Podcasting can also help keep people company (listening to someone speak to them) and start to build a relationship. If you listen to talk radio, as I do, after a while you start to feel as though you know the people you listen to. By podcasting, people can start to form a relationship with your church. That may lead to some of those people visiting and joining your church. Even if they never step foot in your church, you may still have a life changing impact on their lives for Christ. And isn’t that what we are trying to do?