Podcasting Made Easy… Even for Small Churches

Yes, your small church can set up a podcast---no knobs or whatsits required.

Yes, your small church can set up a podcast—no knobs or whatsits required.

Some pastor friends and I got to talking recently about sermon podcasting. I’m always disappointed when gifted preachers I know, whose sermons I’d like to listen to, aren’t available as a podcast. Some congregations put their sermon audio on their church’s website, but that’s not the same as setting up a podcast that can be searched for and subscribed to via iTunes.

Many medium-sized and large congregations have folks to record the service and take care of this technical detail. But what about small congregations? Yes you can! We’ve been podcasting at Tiny Church for a few years now. (Search Idylwood Presbyterian on iTunes, or click here.)

In my experience with a small church, many decisions are inevitably weighed in terms of stewardship of time and resources. Or to put it crudely, a cost/benefit scale. Is it worth going through the effort of podcasting if only a couple of people will avail themselves of it?

It is absolutely worth the effort because it doesn’t take very much effort at all. It’s also an easy and important method of evangelism—a way of being in the world, exactly where people are searching for inspiration and ideas.

Thinking about setting up a sermon podcast but not sure where to start? Let me put on a very old hat of mine, that of technical writer.

There are three basic steps to podcasting: recording the sermon, converting the sound file, and uploading it to a podcast service. Here is how I handle those three steps in a small church without an A/V team.

1. Recording. I use iRecorder Pro, which is a $2.99 app for my iPhone. I put the phone on the pulpit and hit record when I start preaching and stop when I’m done. (Protip: Write start/stop reminders into your manuscript or notes.) The phone’s microphone works fine whether I’m using a microphone or not.

2. Converting to mp3. Most recorders I’m familiar with save the recording in some other format. Podcasts require mp3. I download the audio from my phone to my MacBook Air and use Switch to convert. It looks like there’s a paid version of Switch, but the version I use is/was free. There are a ton of audio converters out there.

3. Uploading the mp3 file to your podcast service. I use SermonDrop, which I’ve been very happy with. The free version keeps the 10 most recent sermons. If you want more than that, you can pay. You upload the file to their site, and there are places to type in scripture text, name of preacher, whether it’s part of a series, etc. You can even upload PowerPoint slides or PDFs. Here is IPC’s SermonDrop page.

You do those three steps every time. There’s also an intermediate step that you need to do once, which is to register your podcast with iTunes so it shows up in their listing. Here are some instructions. Basically you’re telling iTunes “hey, my podcast exists, here it is.” So anyone who searches for your church name will find it.

As a pastor of a small church, you could certainly find someone to take care of this each week. But honestly? It takes me 10 minutes per week, and that’s mainly waiting for the computer to convert and to upload. There is no reason not to do it.

Does your congregation podcast? What tools or suggestions do you have?

~

Coming soon: Evernote for Pastors. In the meantime, here’s an old post on that topic. (And have you signed up for my email list?)

photo credit: TimWilson via photopin cc

16 thoughts on “Podcasting Made Easy… Even for Small Churches

  1. amy schacht

    THANK YOU so much for this – I have fiddled with it & fiddled with it, could not figure it out, gave up, tried again, gave up again, lamented that my Communications’ Committee just didn’t seem to find this a priority, and gave up again. This will definitely help me! And thanks, too, for the reminder to medium-large congregations that what they have other folk do for them, the small-church pastor does for themselves…….

    Reply
    1. MaryAnn McKibben Dana Post author

      There are a lot of audio converters out there. You might Google around and see what’s available that’s low cost… maybe search for some reviews too so you know what you’re getting. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Lauren Cochran

    First, thank you for the post! Second, I have followed your steps, and put a sermon on sermon drop etc etc, and I’m trying to register it with iTunes. On the first screen it asks for the Podcast feed URL, and I don’t know what to put in there. I’ve tried a couple of different things, and iTunes says it can’t read them. Help?

    Reply
      1. Lauren Cochran

        It is, and then it replies that my image must fit certain requirements (which is does) and that I must use a server that allows HTTP head requests. So, I will email sermondrop and see what they have to say. Thanks for your help.

        Reply
  3. Cynthia Cochran-Carney

    MaryAnn,
    Thank you so much for posting this. We are now using Sermondrop and it works great. Very helpful article. My 15 year old son is now my podcast coordinator!

    Reply

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