Podcasts have been around a while. For those of you unaware of what a podcast is, it's basically like having your favorite radio shows available to download at any time in any place. In the same way that Tivo's and DVR's changed how we watch TV, podcasts have completely changed how we listen to Radio.
Podcasts are rapidly growing into a significant medium of communication. According to an Edison Research Study in 2017, 67 million Americans listen to a podcast monthly. Of these listeners, they are most likely to be between the age of 18-34. And that's just in the US.
So why are podcasts growing so quickly?
1. Podcasts are cheap to produce
Unlike TV and Radio, Podcasts have a LOW entry cost. In fact, the only thing a person needs to start a podcast these days is having a computer connected to the internet. With a computer having basic recording software paired with a decent microphone, you can put together a podcast that can match the same level of quality that you'd expect in popular radio shows listened to by millions.
2. Podcasts have limited or no commercials
People today heavily rely on streaming services like Netflix and Hulu more than ever before. These streaming services give people the ability to watch whatever they want with limited or no commercials to sit through. Consumers of media are less likely to dedicate time to watch a show or a movie if that means they must watch or listen to commercials. In fact, many people will wait till their popular radio show releases its podcast the next day just so they can fast forward through the commercials!
3. Podcasts are easily accessible
You can listen to a podcast on any smart device. That device can be a computer, a smartphone, a tablet, and even some smart televisions! It doesn't matter if you're sitting at work, driving in the car, or working out in the gym...your podcast can travel with you.
Podcasts and Churches
Because of the above reasons, podcasts have been huge for churches. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find churches over 1,000 members that don't have a podcast. Surprisingly, there are many churches under 300 members that have been doing a podcast for years now. If you think about it, all a podcast is with regards to churches is just changing the medium your members get the message. Instead of offering your pastor's sermon in the form of a vintage cassette or CD, you are just telling your congregation to visit a site to listen at their leisure.
Unlike handing out sermon CD's to visitors and members, podcasts are available to anyone on the internet. There are many people that will listen to a church's podcast before they decide to visit that church. What does that mean? It means your podcast can be your church's first impression. You want to make a good first impression with those listeners. Your podcast needs to consistently be good quality and professional. If your podcast lacks quality and is not professional, you will actually risk turning people away with it.
It sounds trivial that people may pass on your church if it had a bad podcast. But, it's the truth. Having a bad podcast for a church is like having a bad movie trailer. Imagine yourself watching the preview for the next Star Wars. Instead of having some sort of intro to reel you in...it just randomly starts with the main character messing up on a deleted scene. While this is going on, you can't even make out what that character is saying because the audio sounds muffled. When the trailer ends, it just ends. No details. No idea of when the movie will come out. You start to wonder if what you just watched is a joke!
You don't want your podcast to be a joke.
So...it's time to answer the main question: Should your church podcast?
Yes! But only if your church can do the following:
Record the sermon with high-quality audio (via the mixer or a good mic)
Dedicate the time to master that audio properly as well as add intros and outros
Consistently post the podcast on a weekly basis
Have a person/team with know-how or is teachable to manage the podcast & recordings
If you have those 4 elements, you should really consider starting a podcast today. Having a podcast can widen your church's reach. It also gives the people that serve in various ministries a way to listen to the message if they miss it. For those two reasons alone, we LOVE podcasts.
Just remember though, it's better to have no podcast at all than a bad podcast.
Stay tuned next time as we talk about how to make a good church podcast.