Many churches have added a church podcast to their engagement and growth strategy, but is it right for your church?
Obviously, the more you do to boost engagement and reach, the better. However, if your limited time is already stretched further than it should be, you might not want to add yet another task to your week.
While podcasting is becoming increasingly popular, take the time to decide if the benefits of creating a podcast are worth it for your church.
Table of contents
- What Is A Podcast?
- Podcasts Vs. Videos
- Are Podcasts Budget-Friendly?
- Why People Love Podcasts
- Offer A More Mobile-Friendly Option
- Make Great Sermon Archives
- Podcasts Are Easy To Share
- Podcasts Can Go Beyond Sermons
- How Often Do You Create One?
- Promote Your Podcast
- Create A Strategy Before You Start
- Podcast Platforms
What Is A Podcast?
If you’re not sure what a podcast even is, it’s an audio show or program that you listen to on your phone. Think of them like radio shows, but more accessible. However, many podcasts aren’t just audio anymore. They also have video versions. Your church is free to create either version.
Typically, video podcasts are offered as audio-only versions too for people to listen to as they commute back and forth, exercise, do things around the house or any other activity. They’re designed to be convenient, portable shows that people subscribe to. They can be free or premium, though many free podcasts include ads or a call-to-action to donate via the podcast’s website.
Much like creating a video, a podcast can be any length or frequency you want. Choosing the right length and frequency depends on your church and listeners.
Typically, podcasts are either completely original content or repurposed content. For instance, your church might convert sermons into podcasts or you might have exclusive Q&A podcasts with Christian leaders. Of course, you can always do both.
If you’d like to try out podcasts yourself before trying to create your own church podcast, check out these great podcasts for pastors.
Podcasts Vs. Videos
Right now, you’re probably asking yourself why bother creating a podcast if you’re already creating videos. While podcasts can be videos, they’re also available just to listen to. People subscribe to them, pop in some headphones and listen while they do other things.
If you are creating a video podcast, the production value isn’t quite as important. A simple set with a table and your equipment is all that’s really necessary. You could even just sit and talk to your laptop or phone’s camera.
Still, podcasts are incredibly popular for the convenience of being able to just listen and go. The audio-only versions require far less mobile data than a video, making them ideal for people with limited data plans. Plus, people can often download them for offline listening.
Often, churches that do both videos and podcasts do one of three things:
- The video and podcast are identical with one being video and one being audio only
- The podcast is a stripped down version of the video, highlighting the most important points or discussing individual points more in-depth (you can get multiple podcasts out of one video)
- The video and podcast are completely independent, offering two different engagement options
Since videos are so popular, it’s worth considering doing both videos and a church podcast. You can save time by filming your podcast to create additional videos on YouTube.
Are Podcasts Budget-Friendly?
The main thing to focus on with a church podcast is audio quality. If listeners can’t understand you, they won’t keep listening and they definitely won’t subscribe.
The most basic equipment is a laptop or smartphone. You can use the built-in mic on either device to record the podcast. Ideally, you will want to invest in a high-quality microphone to connect to your laptop or phone. This is a one-time cost and you can also use it when recording videos, especially weekly sermons.
The only other cost is a podcast platform. These aid in getting your church’s podcast uploaded to popular subscription services to make it more widely available. You can do this on your own, but it’s usually easier to use a third-party service. We’ll list some available platforms at the end of this post.
Overall, podcasts are very budget-friendly. While you can have more costly setups, they’re not necessary for a simple podcast with just a few people. Our podcasting guide explains the costs to help you see what’s best for your church.
Why People Love Podcasts
It’s not always convenient to watch a video, but it’s incredibly simple to listen to audio while driving, walking, shopping, etc. Think of it as a TV show that you just listen to. Before TV, people rushed to finish their chores to gather around the radio to listen to the latest episode of their favorite show. Now, instead of gathering around a radio, they just tap the podcast on their phone and start listening.
In the US alone, 16 million people consider themselves “avid podcast fans,” while 68 million people listen to at least one podcast every week. On average, people subscribe to six shows, but listen to seven shows every week.
Speaking of convenience, 90% of people listen while doing things around the home and 64% listen while driving. As you can tell, podcasts are popular.
It’s on-demand informative radio in your pocket. Of course, podcasts are available via mobile devices, desktop computers and even through some smart devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices.
Offer A More Mobile-Friendly Option
Yes, videos are definitely mobile-friendly since you can just download the YouTube app and watch. However, you can’t exactly watch a video while going for a jog or vacuuming the house. A church podcast is even more mobile-friendly since you don’t need your screen in front of you. A pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds and you’re free to listen on the go.
For members and online followers who are incredibly busy, they’re more likely to listen to a podcast since it fits in with their constantly on the go lifestyle. A video means taking the time to sit down and focus.
Make Great Sermon Archives
If you’re looking for an easy way to archive past sermons, creating a church podcast is a great way to do it. Many people love to check out past sermons before visiting a church for the first time. An archive also works well for people who might be looking for a sermon on a particular topic.
The great part is you can add the podcasts to your church website. Organize them by topic or provide a search function. If you’re discussing a topic on your church blog, link to a related past sermon to give even more information.
This is also works well for sermons you did before you started doing audio or video recordings. If you still have copies of past sermons, take some time to record them for your archives. Then, just create a page on your website listing all available podcasts. You might even a podcast series just about past sermons called Looking Back or something similar.
Podcasts Are Easy To Share
Talking to unchurched friends and family about church isn’t always easy. While your members would love to invite people, it’s an awkward topic to bring up. However, podcasts are incredibly easy to share. Much like any other post on social media, your members can quickly share a podcast they think their friends and family might like.
Instead of just telling people about church, they’re able to share podcasts that move them. This introduces the unchurched to your church without any uncomfortable conversations. The great part is people can listen to the podcast while they scroll through social media.
It’s a simple growth strategy, but effective. It can also lead people back to your church website or social media profiles to learn more about your church. Instead of leaving up to your members to try and answer questions, your podcasts, website and social channels do it.
Podcasts Can Go Beyond Sermons
So far, we’ve mainly talked about podcasts in terms of sermons. After all, this is the most straightforward approach. For busier churches who really don’t have the time, it’s simple and still effective. However, you’re not limited to just an audio version of your sermons.
Some churches actually turn a single sermon into multiple podcasts. For example, you might have an uncut version where you talk about all the extras you wanted to add in, but the content didn’t fit the time you had available during services. Or, break apart your sermon into several sections and focus a podcast on each to offer Bible study sessions. Another option might be focusing on questions members and online followers asked after your sermon.
Naturally, your sermons are full of podcast material, but there are a variety of different approaches to take, such as:
- Repurpose blog content – This can simply be audio versions of your blog, staff or members discussing blog posts, breaking apart main topics on your blog or anything else related.
- Interviews with members, online followers, Christian leaders, etc.
- Answer questions – Answer several member and online follower questions each week in a can’t miss podcast.
- Christian leaders topics and guidance for creating Christian leaders in your community
- Talk about current events and related scripture
Get creative with your podcasts and don’t feel limited. However, make sure whatever topics and themes you choose fit the overall theme of your church podcast.
How Often Do You Create One?
Much like with any church engagement strategy, you have to be consistent. Since podcasts are considered shows, people expect them on a regular schedule. Of course, you can take breaks sometimes, but make sure you let people know. Otherwise, they’ll simply think you’ve stopped creating podcasts.
The most common frequency is weekly, but you can create multiple podcasts each week. Some churches prefer creating just one or two per month, especially if they’re not using their sermon as their podcast.
The key is to pick a schedule that works well for your church. If you want a weekly podcast, make sure you publish a new one every week and that it’s available on the same day each week. This helps you gain more regular subscribers.
You could even create two or more different types of podcasts with their own schedules. For Podcast A, the frequency might be weekly, while Podcast B might only be once per month.
Promote Your Podcast
If you want to start a church podcast, you have to let people know about it. The good news is you don’t need to come up with a brand new marketing strategy. If your church is already active on social media and has a regularly updated blog, use those platforms to let people know about your podcast.
At the end of each sermon, remind people to check out the latest church podcast. You can direct people to your church’s website where you’ll have the latest podcast on the homepage.
If you have a church newsletter, add a link to your latest podcast in each edition. This is a great resource to include and if people share the newsletter, they’ll also be sharing your podcast.
If you’re not really marketing your church, check out these free marketing tools. You can also try our Ultimate Church Marketing Strategy guide to see how to get started.
Create A Strategy Before You Start
Much like with your blog or social media profiles, you need to create a strategy before you create a church podcast. A few things to include in your strategy are:
- Name of podcast
- How to market it
- Where to publish it
- How long each podcast episode should be
- How to monetize (you can use your podcast to let listeners know how to donate to your church online)
- Podcast team/volunteers
Once you have a strategy in place, it’s much easier to stay consistent. Remember, you can record podcasts in advance (outside of weekly sermons, of course) to get ahead. For instance, you might record four episodes in a single day and have the rest of the month free for other tasks.
As we mentioned earlier, podcast platforms can help make it easier to get your church podcast out to listeners. If you have ample bandwidth, you’re free to host the podcast on your church website. However, some people prefer to subscribe through certain services, such as Spotify or Apple Podcasts. Some of the best platforms to consider include:
- Buzzsprout – Pricing ranges from free to $24/month
- Anchor – Free unlimited hosting
- Podbean – Pricing ranges from free to $99/month
- Spreaker – Pricing ranges from free to $50/month
- Audioboom – Starts at $99/year
Creating a church podcast is a great engagement strategy to stay in touch with your members and online followers all week. See how our church web design services help create the perfect home for people to find your podcast.
I really follow church podcasts from Keion Henderson, and other leaders of the Christian faith and I really think it is a good tool to spread God’s message of love. I hope one day I could get to start my own podcast and blogs about our family’s Christian daily living.