Podcasting sermons has always been complicated & confusing for me. And I’m pretty handy with software stuff. There have been a couple of decent but limited tools that have come & gone over recent years, but figuring out how to podcast church plant sermons has been off my radar for a while. Turns out, it should be pretty important to church planters.
One of the surprising (to me) findings in the recent State of Church Planting in the US 2015 published by Ed Stetzer & company at www.NewChurches.com is the statistical significance between church plants that have their sermons online and those that don’t:
- “Average number of commitments made in church plants who use podcasts as a form of communication [average 16 in first year] vs. church plants who do not use podcasts as a form of communication [average 10 in first year]:” chart on p.13
- “Among new churches that utilize a podcast as a means of communication, 40% start another new church within their first 5 years of existence [as opposed to 16% for churches that don’t podcast].” p.24
I don’t think this is a magic silver bullet. In fact, it may very well be a chicken-and-the-egg scenario: these churches may have their sermons online because they’re healthier and reaching people. Either way, getting your sermons online should be one small facet of getting your church plant started.
Free Plugin to Podcast Church Plant Sermons
More and more planters have been using WordPress to build their websites. It’s not the only website building platform out there, but it has become perhaps the major player in the field. One of its huge advantages is that because it’s free and open-source, there are lots of developers writing plugins (mods) for it. There are tens of thousands of them; it’s like having an App Store for your website.
So at a planter’s request, I was recently surfing the WordPress plugin directory for something that would make putting sermons on the church’s website easy. I was so happy to find:
What I found in Sermon Manager for WordPress is not only a really easy way to get your sermons on your website, but built-in automatic podcasting awesomeness, too. If you already have a WordPress website, then all you have to do is:
- Find Sermon Manager in the plugin directory
- Install & activate it (free!)
- Populate the lists of preachers, sermon series, sermon topics, etc.
- Post your first couple of sermon recordings (I recommend at least 2 before proceeding)
- Follow their instructions to add the list of sermons to any page on your website
- Go to Sermons > Settings > Podcast and fill in all the boxes
- “Use the Feed Validator [linked on page] to diagnose and fix any problems before submitting your Podcast to iTunes”
- Submit your Poscast to the iTunes Store
It’s not a perfect solution, including its use of über-churchy language, but it doesn’t come with a “you can only post your two most recent sermons” paid premium hidden catch. Their website does suggest buying it for $29, but you’d really be buying premium support from them (instead of self-help for free).
Once your church plant has set this up, every time you add a new sermon to your website, it automatically gets pushed to the iTunes Podcast. Ta-da!
Now that you’re fired up about podcasting, find someone on your Launch Team to do this for you; don’t get into the habit of posting the sermons online by yourself. It will suck your time and rob a tech geek like me of their chance to serve.