I thought about wishing you all a Happy Halloween, but I know many of you don’t celebrate Halloween because of it’s ties to the occult. Then I thought about wishing you all a happy Reformation Day, but many of you are Catholic. It’s not even fall for all of you, so I’m left with wishing you all a great last day of October.
I’m back from Chicago and Kurt has passed the blogging baton back to me for our final article in the Sounds from the Church series. Last week we resurrected the idea of a sermon blog, which can be a great resource including sermon audio as well as notes, links to additional resources, and suggested next steps. Once you go from simply posting sermon audio on your site to including it in a blog, a natural and very simple next step is to podcast your sermon audio.
A podcast is a multimedia file distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Or to put it in layman’s terms, it’s an audio or video file that a person can subscribe to receive on a regular basis, and once received the person can listen/view it on their iPod, MP3 player, or directly from their computer. Most podcasts are distributed using an RSS feed. If you’re not familiar with RSS feeds or RSS feed readers, that’s a subject that could consume an entire article or more, so I’m just going to point you to our What is RSS? page.
Before I get into how to podcast, it’s important to understand the reasons why you should podcast sermons.
First, if you put your sermon audio on your church website by itself, or if you include it in a sermon blog that does not have RSS or syndication capability, then it is up to your visitors to remember to come back to your site to listen to future sermons. By podcasting your sermons, you make it possible for visitors to subscribe to receive future sermons automatically, greatly increasing the likelihood they will listen to them.
Second, without podcasting even if people do remember to return to your site to listen to future sermons, they then have to find the next one, wait for the whole audio file to transfer to their computer, and then if they want to listen to it on a portable music player wait again while the file is transferred from their computer to the mobile device. It’s inconvenient and makes it less likely a person on the go is going to go through the hassle. On the other hand, many people with iPods/MP3 players run podcast reading software that automatically downloads the audio file as soon as its available and transfers it to their iPod/MP3 player.
So, the bottom line is podcasting can make a huge difference in the number of people who will listen to your sermons compared with just making them available online. It’s like the difference between posting your church newsletters on your website versus allowing visitors to subscribe to receive them each week in their email.
Once you’re convinced of the benefits of podcasting you’ll be happy to learn podcasting is very easy to do. Almost every blogging tool available today supports podcasting. Whether you install blogging software such as WordPress or Moveable Type into your hosting account or use a blogging service such as Blogger or TypePad, they all make it easy to podcast. A quick search of the web will turn up helpful articles such as WordPress Podcasting and Making a Podcast with Blogger.
A quick search of “sermon podcast” shows that dozens if not hundreds of churches are already podcasting their sermons. Is yours one of them?
If your church podcasts its sermons, please post a comment with a link and tell us what impact it’s having. If not, post a comment and tell us why.