Last week we looked at how to better involve your congregation in your church’s ministry and enhance their worship experience through your website and your worship team. That applied to many of today’s churches, but not all, since there are still many churches that are purely traditional. This week I want to discuss something applicable to every church. Whether traditional, contemporary, a home church or an Internet church, every church has a sermon or message each week. The sermon is another sound of the church, which should also be a sound of your church’s website.
My congregation already heard my sermon, why put it on the website?
Well, that really isn’t true. No church has perfect attendance, which would be the first reason to put your sermons online. Even the most committed church member will miss church from time to time because they are traveling or sick. Putting your sermons on your website will allow your sick members to hear the sermon without spreading yellow fever to the rest of the congregation. It also allows your members who are out of town for the week to hear that week’s message. This is especially important for pastors who do sermon series. I have had a couple of frustrating weeks where I had to be out of town, but I really didn’t want to miss sermon 5 of a five part series. It was like missing the season finale of 24. At least 24 has their episode available for download on the fox website. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for me with the sermon. Also, many sermon series build on the weeks before, so being able to “catch-up” on the website is very helpful so your members get the most out of each sermon. All joking aside, I believe making the sermons available to the shut-ins and hospitalized members of your church is very important. Often times these members are feeling disconnected or defeated and really need the encouragement and strengthening we receive through worship, especially a message from the Word.
I only have a few people in my congregation; do I still need to bother?
Part of the answer to that is in the question itself. Putting sermons or messages on your website can help draw people to your church. We’ve had several people come to my church because they wanted to hear our Pastor. Giving people a taste of what they can expect can go a long way towards getting them to visit your congregation. It can also help you to overcome the short distance mentality. We live in a convenience oriented society. How many of you get frustrated when you can’t find the remote and you actually have to walk all the way to the tv to change the channel? I know some people who will sit and watch something they aren’t even interested in just because they can’t find the remote. Unless people have a reason to go to a specific church, they tend to go to a church close to their house. If you give them a reason, like “I really like the sermon they had on their website,” then a person is more likely to be willing to travel further to check your church out.
How many church services are on the radio each week? Similarly, people may want to listen to your Pastor’s sermon. Maybe they used to be a member, but had to move and would still love to hear the messages. Some folks even search the web for sermons to listen to. Putting your sermon on the web can help you reach people who you normally would not be able to reach, even across the globe.
Should I only put sermons on the website?
Good question. I’m glad I asked it. Don’t forget about your other ministries. Sermons are the most obvious messages you can record and put on your website, but you probably have several other ministries that could do this as well. Churches are always looking for ways to get and keep their youth connected to the church. If you haven’t noticed, the youth are very web savvy. One of your youth may even be in charge of the church website. So use the web with your youth. Record the message at your youth group meetings, conferences and retreats and put them on your church site or pod-cast them (I’ll get into pod-casting in a later blog). You may also want to consider the same for some of the Bible studies your church has.
You’ve convinced me, but how long should I keep the messages on our website?
Some messages go beyond the sermon for the week. You may have a particular sermon that gets a fantastic response, which you want to keep online permanently in an archive. Also messages dealing with specific issues that people go through can be helpful for people to be able to access weeks or months after the message was given. Maybe it’s a message on the forgiveness of Christ being greater than any sin, a message about how God helps us through the struggles of life, or the most important message, the Gospel. Sure it’s a great message when it’s delivered, but it also may be something a member of the congregation needs to hear weeks or months later when that situation is directly applicable to their life. You can create an archive or sermon resource page which has several topical sermons that people can access when they are really in need of advice, comfort or strength. You can also have a “Best of” section where you keep the top 5 or 10 sermons. And you should always have a message conveying the Gospel to anyone and everyone that would hear it. A sermon archive can be a great resource for both your congregation and website visitors.
These are just a few reasons why it’s a good idea to have recordings of your church’s sermons or messages on your website and I’m sure you can think of a few more. Next week I’ll write a bit about how to create your sermon audio and post it on your website. So start thinking about how you can use the sounds of the church to help build the Kingdom of God.
If you have other reasons for posting audio of your church’s sermons or would like to share an experience where hearing a sermon online impacted you, please post them here in our comments.