Podcasting – Widen the Circle (@asaltbde)

Every Sunday churches up and down the land deliver wonderful sermons, that are listened to by only a minority audience. Regardless of how big a church is, the people listening to the sermon represent a fraction of the potential audience, if the church recorded it, and placed it online. Now the world is your congregation.

Using Podcast Addict to listen to podcasts

Podcasting isn’t that difficult to get started. Many churches do now podcast their sermons, and the technology is much easier to access, making this a great way to get a message across to so many other people. On holiday or away on business? You no longer missed that sermon. Don’t go to church, but still would like to hear more? Podcast to your town, and any of the unchurched can listen without commitment or embarrassment. Personally, I find listening to a sermon a second time I hear far more than the first time around. Unlike video, a podcast can easily be listened to in the car. I use my daily commute to tune in to my favourite podcasts.

The main outlay for podcasting is a digital recording device. These range from fancy dedicated devices that record in high quality stereo, and attach to the church sound stack, taking their input direct from microphones, to simply pressing the record button on a smartphone at the lectern. You really don’t need high quality for audio.

Once you have your digital sermon track, there are many ways you can make it available online. AudioBoo or SoundCloud have smartphone applications for most platforms, to allow upload straight away, directly from the phone. AudioBoo will even help make it available in iTunes. AudioBoo charge £60 per year, which allows unlimited sermons, each of 30 minutes duration, which probably covers the majority of sermons. SoundCloud has a more complicated pricing structure.

Alternatively, sites like Box provide a free 5GB account (for personal use) which provides an RSS feed for a directory. An RSS feed is all you need to podcast digital sermons. For example, this is what the RSS feed looks like for St Paul’s in Camberley http://www.box.net/shared/0r5pczl0kk/rss.xml Place the feed (a little like a website address), on your website, and people can then subscribe to it, and get notified of new sermons as they are available. For Box, you can even add a description of the sermon, with details like the person speaking, the theme and title, and maybe a synopsis.

To listen to a podcast, you can use sites like Google Reader, or a smartphone application. There are so many ways to listen to podcasts. On Android devices, I recommend Hapi Podcast or Podcast Addict. Both are free, allow subscription to multiple podcasts, and have the option to automatically download new podcasts. Many car stereos now have Bluetooth, or USB input, allowing you to easily use your smartphone to listen to those sermons on the way to work.

I’ve tried to give a simple outline of how to get started podcasting, but this is just the basics, and there are many other options out there, including monitoring statics on how many people have subscribed.

Now your opportunity to feedback some hints and tips about podcasting. Please chip in, and help to resource those who are just starting on the podcast route.

What hardware and software does your church use to podcast?

What do you use to listen to podcasts, and why?

About Andrew Salt

Andy is the Social Media Officer for @StPaulsCamb in Camberley, Surrey and the @StMikesOpen4All project (#CNMAC12 runner-up for most creative use of social media). He built up a presence on various social networks for St Paul's, and learned an awful lot, from some really nice people, along the way. He loves Android, and uses a stack of apps to help him carry out his role at St Paul's. Oh, and did I mention attending @DigitalSurrey :)