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Podcasts convey your church’s first impressions

It’s no secret by now: People will check out your website before visiting your church. Additionally, they will probably listen to a one or two podcasts before they come to get a feel of what the teaching will be like. Whether you believe it or not, your first impression is not always at the front door, although a warm smile trumps even the best podcast. Your church’s first impression is more than likely your podcast.

Some churches choose to go fancy by adding an opening and closing excerpt to each podcast with contact info, and some just post the message itself. Either one is great; the important focus is that you are getting your message out there.

If your church is podcasting, good job! I’m sure by now you’ve seen the advantages behind the effort. Maybe some regular attenders have mentioned that they re-listened to one of your pastor’s latest lessons because it really spoke to them, or a person who has been on vacation got caught up on a series thanks to the podcasts. Just recently, a family started coming to my church because they listened to several podcasts and got hooked. That’s not only very exciting, but encouraging to know our message is getting out.

Your church’s first impression is more than likely your podcast.

If your church is not podcasting, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news for you. The bad news is that you’re missing a huge opportunity to spread the Gospel and reach the people in your community for very little cost. The good news is that there are increasingly more options to podcast your messages through a variety of resources. It’s difficult for me to tell you what the best one is because I don’t know what your website is built on, if you hire someone to update it, if you update it, or it is flash-based, html, or something else. I can tell you what I use, and what I like and don’t like about it.

I like the idea of using a third party for podcasts. This way no matter what I do with my website in the future, they will remain safe and sound. The best third party client I’ve used for podcasts is Soundcloud, and here’s why:

It’s easy for me

Soundcloud will support all the major audio file types: AIFF, WAVE, FLAC, OGG, MP2, MP3, AAC, AMR and WMA files. They’ve also recently done away with the flash uploader they used to have and replaced it with HTML 5. What this means for you is — it’s easy to upload your audio file. As you’re uploading, you can name the podcast, select a category for it, and upload artwork respective to the podcast. You can also record directly to Soundcloud with the iPad app (see video below), but I have not attempted this. Usually the podcasts need to be trimmed down before the final is ready for public listening.

I can put a podcast anywhere

I wanted to be able to share podcasts on any social networks easily, and I wanted to make sure I gave the listener options to also share it. Not only that, but I wanted the option to stream and/or download the podcast. A public link from Dropbox will work fine if the user is ok leaving the Facebook or Twitter timeline. Another issue with Dropbox is that you can only supply a streaming link or a download link — but not both. When you post a Soundcloud link to your socials, you’ll be able to listen to the podcast directly in the Facebook or twitter newsfeed, or you have the option to go directly to the page on your Soundcloud profile.

I have all these options for linking but when someone is on my church website, I want them to be able to listen to the messages ON my church website. Soundcloud also provides the ability to embed your sermon onto any site. Like this:


Now that is nice for one sermon, but if your church is anything like my church, you teach in series that include several sermons. Good news, you can create a set and add individual sermons to that set, like this:

Hover your mouse over the sermon artwork, pretty cool, huh?

It’s mobile.

No matter what device you’re reading this article on, I bet you’re able to play the audio from Soundcloud with no issues. This is a bigger deal then you might think. People usually listen to podcasts while they’re doing something else: jogging, mowing the lawn, taking the dog for a walk, doing hobbies or projects, or while they’re in the car heading to work, class or Chik-fil-A. So the ability to play podcasts on more than just a desktop computer is imperative to the success of getting the word via podcasts.

It’s Social: Twitter

Here’s a quick look at the Soundcloud iPad app. There are apps for iPhone and Google Play, and tons of third party apps as well.

The fine print:

Soundcloud doesn’t keep track of your podcasts by size; it keeps track of them by length. The pro account will only allow you four hours of audio, which in the sermon world, isn’t much. So the best bang for your buck is the Pro Unlimited account at about $130/year or $12/month. Certainly there are free options out there, but none of them will have this many options, be this easy to use, and look this nice. Trust me; I looked. However, in the ever-changing world of the internet it is likely that I may have missed one or one will be created after I stopped looking. If you find one with all these options and a nice look, please let me know! My email is nate@openbible.org.

About The Author

Nate Beaird
Digital Media Manager

Nate Beaird is the digital media manager for Open Bible Churches. He has spent the past 15 years teaching churches how to leverage technology and design and to learn to view their church from a visitor’s perspective. Nate usually writes about technology and social media, but occasionally wanders out of his lane to add perspective in different areas of church life. Nate has training in graphic design and video editing and is self taught in website and social media engagement. As a break from all things digital, Nate enjoys woodworking and spending time with his family. He and his wife, Niki, have two young children.