Much of what can be said about blogs can be said about podcasts. They inform and educate, build followings, drive website traffic, and establish the producer as an authority. Podcasts take information that could have been written for a blog and present it in an audio format. There are a few things that separate the two: ease of access and personality.
Access and Personality
Blogs and video require a certain level of attention. The person has to be at least partially focused on the screen to absorb the breadth of information. Blogs have to be read, and videos have to be watched. This bars their use any time that a person can’t give the screen their direct attention. Audio, however, can be absorbed while doing any number of things. This is probably why the average podcast listener consumes over four hours of content every week.1 Four hours of driving, working around the house, exercising, cleaning, and avoiding the honey-do list are spent listening to podcasts. More people are catching on as podcasts growth continues to increase year over year.
- 1. 24% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly.2
- 2. 15% of Americans listen to podcasts weekly.2
- 3. Podcast listening grows 10-20% every year.2
- 4. Podcast subscribers are likely to choose their podcasts over the radio.3
“Audio, however, can be absorbed while doing any number of things. This is probably why the average podcast listener consumes over four hours of content every week.”
The baseline information between blogs and podcasts may stay the same, but podcasts can expand what the listener receives. Podcasts are literally less scripted and can allow the producer to discuss topics and issues more conversationally than if just written (this is especially true when there are multiple podcasts hosts). Personality can also attract individuals who would not normally be inclined to reading. It’s easier to hear a friend discuss something they’re passionate while you’re driving to work than it is to sit down and focus on an article.
Podcasts for the Church
Churches generally only use podcasts to publish their sermons every week, and this is a great starting point. We’ll look at that and a few other options: current events, leadership loop, event supplementation, questions and answers, counseling, and lectures.
Hosting your church’s sermons on a podcast platform is the best use of your pastor’s time. Think about it: he spends hours every week studying and preparing, then preaches, and it disappears. He starts again for the next week. But if sermons are recorded and published, they can be replayed by church members, reviewed by small group leaders, and even shared with those outside the church. Making them digital honors your pastors time and increases their benefit for those in the congregation, allowing them to ruminate and revisit the preaching of God’s word.
Church leaders are often leaned on to help interpret current events. Some preachers are able to include these in their sermons but others aren’t. A podcast episode can be an incredible teaching tool as church members try to wrestle with what’s going on in our world. The pastors just have to sit down, press record, and apply God’s word to life, then share it online.
“Making them digital honors your pastors time and increases their benefit for those in the congregation, allowing them to ruminate and revisit the preaching of God’s word.”
Podcasts may not be the greatest tool for regular, weekly newsletter, but they are ideal for casting vision among lay leaders. One of the hurdles in lay leadership is time. It’s not always possible to get everyone in the same place at the same time. Podcasts can go where they are. If your leadership can condense training episodes or updates to ten minutes, you could have an effective weekly leadercast.
October 2017 is packed with conferences covering the Reformation. There is a lot of planning that goes into an event like that. Here are the two hardest questions: how much do we charge, and what content do we want to teach? It’s expensive to host and feed people, so the first is a matter of how much it’s going to hurt. The second forces the planners to cut out content they wish they could share. Podcasts create an avenue to share them. Imagine releasing four lectures throughout the week to prepare guests for a conference that starts on Friday. All of the sessions get shared but the event isn’t as content heavy as it could be.
Podcasts are another platform for question and answer sessions. Community members can send in questions through email, social media, or another channel, then download the podcast episode to get their answers.
Counseling is a strange thing to be added to this list. We absolutely do not mean that you record pastoral counseling sessions and share them. That would be terrible. If there have been recurring issues within your congregation, one way to preemptively pastor through those circumstances is to share what you would tell them in a crisis moment. If your leadership is constantly saying the same thing to multiple couples in counseling, why not say them to everyone and prevent counseling? Podcasts provide a way to do that.
“If your leadership is constantly saying the same thing to multiple couples in counseling, why not say them to everyone and prevent counseling?”
Lastly, lectures, lessons, and classes. Not everyone has the time or emotional dexterity to read through an 800 page book on the atonement, but they might listen to a few classes on the subject. Podcasts can lower the mental start up cost for learning about the Bible, church history, or theology. Find one person with knowledge passion, give them a mic, then publish and promote the class.
Audio is just another way to communicate and cultivate life in the church, and podcasts are the channel that gets that audio into the ears of your people.