As a pastor, you spend countless hours each week praying, researching, writing and preparing for Sunday morning. What if your message could live on through lunch into forever?
Podcasting is an easy, affordable way to share the gospel online. Feel like you’re behind? You’re not alone. While some churches are deep in the world of digital media, many just have a toe in the water.
We spoke with Craig Groeschel, pastor of LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Chris Mefford, producer of the EntreLeadership Podcast series, about the benefits of podcasting and how you can dive right in.
Before you press the record button, you need a solid plan in place. There are two main things to consider:
Most churches are already recording the Sunday morning message for CD distribution. Editing, publishing and promoting will take your recording to the next level.
Don’t just take the recorded sermon and throw it up online. While this is beneficial, Chris calls it “podcasting circa 1995.” He says, “Instead, do an intro, add in your content, and then tell them about your programs. You earned the right by giving them content. It’s a great trade.”
LifeChurch.tv does this well. Pastor Craig and his staff add information to the beginning and end of each podcast to connect listeners to their ministry. It’s an effective way to encourage locals who are trying out your church from home to take the next step and visit. You can also engage your audience by asking questions and providing an email address for responses to be sent in.
When it comes to publishing, we trust you’ll work out the technical kinks through trial and error and helpful tutorials. What you should know now is that consistency, Chris and Pastor Craig agree, is key. “Podcasts are subscriptions, which sets the expectation that content will be delivered on a regular basis,” says Craig. Make sure the podcast is easy to locate and posted on the same day and time each week.
You can also use a service like FeedBurner to measure podcast traffic. That information helps you know which topics are most popular and how you can better tailor your message to the listener.
Once you’ve published the podcast, it’s time to tell your church and the community at large the good news. Pastor Craig and the team at LifeChurch.tv use several channels within the church to get the word out: social media, announcements from the stage, the church website, promotional videos, the bulletin and email newsletters. Be creative and consistent with your promotion.
The potential to expand the impact of your ministry is well worth the effort of podcasting.
“Podcasting has helped our congregation stay connected to our teaching. If they can’t attend one weekend, the message is waiting for them when they’re ready. Others like to reinforce the message by listening to it again while they are exercising or during their commute. [It is] easily shared and can support engagement on a global level,” says Pastor Craig.
Pastor Craig regularly listens to sermon podcasts himself. A few of his favorites include Andy Stanley, Steven Furtick and James MacDonald; their messages stretch him in biblical application, inspire him to grow in faith, and offer solid teaching.
How could podcasting benefit your ministry? What podcasts are your go-to downloads each week? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
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