Is Your Church Social? Part 23 – Podcasts – Techy Stuff For The Geeks


We’ve talked about the “what” and the “why”.  So, what about the “how”?  If you have some ideas about what you want to do for a podcast, but aren’t sure how to go about doing it, this is the info you’ve been waiting for.  I’d suggest getting your pencil ready to take notes, but copy and paste should work just fine.

Recording Podcasts:
If your church already makes a good recording of the sermon each week to distribute to members, then all you need to do is save the audio as an mp3 and setup the podcast.  If your church doesn’t currently record your sermons or you are doing another kind of podcast, here are some tips for recording a sermon:

  • For a sermon podcast, mic the pastor – Use a personal microphone for the pastor.  This could be a lapel mic, headset, or hand-held mic.  Using a mic that is just “in the room” usually results in a poor recording.  For Bible Study/Class recording, mic the leader of the Bible study if possible and anyone else who is speaking.  If it’s a discussion situation, you may need to just have a couple of mics setup around the room (non-directional if possible), but the sound quality will suffer some.
  • For a studio podcast, read the previous article, Is Your Church Social? Part 22 – Podcasts – Producing Studio Podcasts, for tips about production.
  • Record directly from the mixing console.  If your church has a mixing console, it should have an output to which you can connect a digital recorder.  If you don’t have a mixing console, you may be able to connect the output of the mic to a computer’s mic input, though you will need some adaptors.  I recommend using a mixing console.  Digidesign Mbox is an adaptor so you can use a real mic (XLR plug) and adapt it to USB to record on your computer.  It also comes with software.
  • Record digitally.  No tape decks.  They were out dated years ago.  You can use a digital recorder, a CD recorder, or a computer.
  • When recording, record at full quality in either AIFF or WAV format.  You always want to capture the sound at the highest quality.  You can always lessen the quality of audio later, but you can’t increase the quality later.  So, record at high quality.
  • Edit the recording on a computer using audio editing software.  I recommend Audacity as a free option.  It’s a pretty good product.  If you don’t mind spending a little money, Adobe Audition (formerly Cool Edit Pro) is a great product.  It’s probably way more editing power than you need, but I recommend it because it has a great noise filter feature.  So, if you have a hum, hiss, or some other background noise, you can remove it.  This is especially helpful if you have to just record the room for a Bible class podcast.
  • Lastly, when you are just getting started with recording and podcasting, begin with some recordings you would actually use or distribute.  This will give you a chance to practice and get comfortable with the process.

I’ll go into more details later about what audio format to use, what the specific settings to use, and how to setup the audio as a podcast.

Editing and Mixing

  • If you use music, import the music from a CD
  • Listen to speakers not headphones.  Speakers will give you a better idea of what it will sound like to everyone else.
  • Check volume differences.  You want people to be able to hear everything.  If there are multiple people on the podcast, like in a studio podcast, make sure both people are at the same volume so one person isn’t soft while another is loud.
  • Don’t go edit crazy.  You can get carried away, but unless there are really mistakes in the recording, it probably won’t need more than a few edits.
  • Use Compression.  Compression is basically what makes radio talk sound good.
  • EQ/Deesser – A Deesser takes out the pops and hissing from the speaking.  The EQ (equalizer) allows you to adjust certain audio levels like treble, mid-range, and bass as well as presence.
  • Use gates and noise filters.  Gates and noise filters will help you eliminate unwanted noise from your recording such as background hissing and room noise.  It will give you a much cleaner sounding recording.

Prepping For The Web

  • Make the file as small as possible while retaining quality
    • Convert the file to MP3 format.  This will reduce the size of the file greatly without significantly reducing the quality.
    • Deliver mono unless you have a reason.  For speaking, stereo is rarely needed.
  • iTunes has great features for file prep.  If you use iTunes, here are the settings to use:
    • Bit rates
      • MP3
      • Mono
      • 64kbps (stereo)
      • 441khz (sampling rate)
  • Use ID3 Tagging
  • Title=title of sermon or the topic of the studio show
  • Artist=pastor (or whoever is speaking on the recording)
  • Album=church name


Using the church name as the album name is very important when considering church marketing.  You want listeners to know what church is producing the content.  I’d also include the church website URL in the album name if possible so people can easily find and visit your church’s website.


  • Create your RSS feed
    • By hand
    • Use a blog (link to the audio file as the blog content and it will turn it into a podcast)  This is what I would recommend unless you have a feature in your CMS.
    • Software
    • Some CMS systems have a podcasting module you can use.
  • Feedburner
    • Feedburner is a free service from Google.  It’s basically a middleman for the feed.  You put your URL into Feedburner and Feedburner gives you a Feedburner URL.  You then give out the Feedburner URL
      • One of the advantages of Feedburner is that if your Feed URL changes (webpage changes, domain name changes, etc.) you can just change that URL in Feedburner and then you will not need to change the feed URL anywhere else.
      • Feedburner records stats like how many people have downloaded your podcast.  So, you can get some idea if whether people are listening to your podcasts.
  • Exposure
    • Setup an RSS feed on your church website
    • Upload your podcast to iTunes
    • Look for other 3rd party podcasting sites.

Final Words:
Podcasting, like anything else, is something that you will need to work on, learn about, and improve as you go.  So, make sure you listen to your podcasts with a critical ear.  You will be able to pick up on content issues or production issues that you need to fix.  Also, share the podcast with others and ask for their feedback.  While you can pick up on some of the issues in the podcast, you’re biased.  Get outside opinions.  The two most important opinions to get are those from your intended audience (they’ll tell you what they want to hear) and brutally honest critics (they will tell you what the “nice” people in your church won’t).

Always seek to improve.  It will make for a better podcast, more listeners, and better church marketing.

Kurt Steinbrueck is a Deacon at his church and has been Director of Marketing Services with Ourchurch.Com for over 5 years providing Christian search engine optimization services including a service specific for church marketing, the Top Church Search Rankings service, a church search engine optimization service. Please contact Kurt at OurChurch.Com if you would be interested in getting better rankings for your church in the search engines.

About the author

Kurt Steinbrueck


  • well, I was thinking about doing a podcast for my website, but then i changed my mind because i thought it would be hard to set up…i was wrong and their good for gaining new leads

  • Wow. I wish I had this info a long time ago. I always wanted to try podcasting but could never figure it out. Thanks a bunch.

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