Before we answer the question, “what is a church podcast?”, let’s talk about sermons and how they are made available online otherwise. Most churches by now will record their sermons either by audio or video. The church website has been one of the most common places to store these sermons to make them available for listening. Members know they can go to the website and find an archive of sermons.
Some smaller churches may record only audio due to a lack of staff or limited technology to produce videos of the service. Larger churches will now do Live Stream utilizing platforms such as YouTube and Facebook to present to church members unable to make a Sunday service. With the new technology, you might be wondering why you need a podcast for audio sermons.
What is a church podcast?
A podcast is a way in which audio is able to be streamed using an app such as Spotify, Apple, or Google. These podcast apps are able to be used on computers and mobile devices to listen to podcasts easily. A church podcast is specific to the sermons that are produced by the church typically from a Sunday morning service.
The church podcast specifically is sermons that are made available using a podcast app. These podcasts are updated regularly as the sermon media is produced and made available by the church. The podcast apps are updated automatically as the media is uploaded and the new podcast is created by the church.
Why does my church need a podcast for the sermons?
The first reason that a church would need a podcast for sermons is accessibility. Mobile devices have become more and more popular over the years when it comes to accessing websites in general. This is no different for a church website. However, accessing a website from a phone is different than a computer. Audio sermons stored on a church website can be a little more difficult to access on a mobile device such as an iPhone or Android phone.
The second reason to consider a podcast for your church’s sermons is flexibility. Typically with a website browser, the audio will stop if the phone screen is turned off. This is not the same with a podcast app. Those who are familiar with Spotify know that music can be set to play and the phone screen turned off. The music will still play from the device or through a bluetooth speaker or wireless headset.
The third reason to consider a podcast is portability. Again considering Spotify, music and podcasts played on Spotify can be stopped on one device and picked up on another very easily. Spotify records your spot on a song or Podcast. If you are leaving a desk where you were listening, you can pause and pick up in the same place on your phone while driving, or walking. Also, Spotify, Apple, and Google have apps on so many platforms including smart TVs that this makes it easy to listen on multiple devices.
So how do I get started?
If you’re convinced this is the right move for your audio sermons, we’ll put together a basic tutorial to get you up and running. With these steps, you should be able to get set up in a couple hours. Remember that these are the basic steps and will get you started. This is not an in depth tutorial, but enough for a novice to get to work and get something set up without a tremendous amount of work.
There are many different types of website builders available. Some churches have designed their own websites and some have had them professionally done. For the purposes of this tutorial we will use the WordPress framework as our example of a church website. We will also use Spotify as our podcast app of choice. The instructions will be very similar for another website framework and another different podcast app.
Sermon Audio Files
The first and obvious step is that you need your sermon audio stored online. This can be done using the church’s main website, or a third party website that stores audio files. Our example is a church that already has audio files stored on a WordPress website using a plugin called “Advanced Sermons”. This WordPress plugin organizes sermons and displays them on a website. The audio files are stored on the host server and the plugin stores the actual web link and allows the sermons to be played from the website.
So the components that are in place at this point include audio files. These audio files are uploaded to a web host server. In our case, they are uploaded to the church website. And lastly, we have them organized well with titles, dates, and other basic information.
Creating a Feed
If you are new to a podcast, you might wonder what a feed is. Others will know exactly what we are talking about. A feed simply, is a structured file that contains all of the information that a podcast app will need in order to display the sermons. The feed contains the titles, dates, audio length, link to the actual audio files, and more.
In our example, we are going to be utilizing another WordPress plugin called Blubrry PowerPress. This plugin allows the church to input information that will also be used by the podcast app such as the Feed Title, and the Feed Description and the feed Artwork. See below for a screenshot of what our plugin looks like in this example.
This plugin gives us options to include a lot of information that the podcast app will utilize in the feed which you will see later. The main information is inputted into this form and is added to the feed. You can see the feed HTML link just underneath “Feed Settings”. This is what we will use in just a few steps when we are subscribing to our podcast service.
Selecting a podcast service for our church podcast
This next step requires us to decide which podcast service or services we want to use. For this example we our going to choose Spotify. There is also Apple Podcast, Google, Pocket Casts, and Audible, among others. My home church utilizes Spotify and Apple Podcast and we are set up with both. The choice is really personal preference.
When pondering the choices that are listed above, consider the popularity of each service. Spotify and Apple are very popular and many people use them for music and podcast already. You’ll want to use something that is easy to access, and popular among your church body. For those that don’t currently use any of these, you’ll also want something that is easy for church members to sign up for if they want to do so.
Signing up for the Podcast Service
Remember that in our example, we are going to use Spotify. Spotify and Apple are free to use and popular, but we will choose Spotify for this tutorial. The steps that follow will be very similar for the other services.
Register online at the podcast service website
The first step in signing up for the podcast service is to visit the website. For Spotify, use this link https://podcasters.spotify.com/ to get to the main page of their podcasting website in order to sign up. You can see below that the website is fairly simple. The obvious first choice is the nice green button labeled “Get Started”.
Once you click “Get Started”, you will need to then scroll to the bottom and click the button that says “Sign up for Spotify”. This will ask for basic user information such as email address, name, birthdate, and for you to create a password. The email address also needs to be verified as with most online account registrations so make sure you get the information correct.
Again, this step is very standard. This step is typically the same on all other podcast service websites. The registration is a one time step. This is necessary in order to create the account where you will add your church podcast. Once you register your email, the next step is to login to the website.
Add your Church Podcast
The website has a very simple layout when you login. There are not very many options to choose from, and simple can be good. The first step in adding the podcast is to click the three dots with your username in the top left corner. This reveals a slide out menu with one option. The first option is a plus sign with a link to “Add or claim your podcast”. The next option is a green button that says “Get Started”.
The next page will start by asking for your church podcast RSS feed. This feed was alluded to earlier in the tutorial. For this example, go back to your Blubrry PowerPress app within WordPress. Copy the link located under Feed Settings seen in the image above. Paste this link directly into the box on the first page and proceed.
Verify the Details of the Podcast
Your podcast information will appear to the right assuming that the link is correct. We added this information from our website using the Blubrry PowerPress plugin. Review the information and make sure that everything is correct. Verify that your information and then click the “Submit” button and you are done.
Spotify will approve your podcast and it will become live automatically most likely within a day or two. You can check for your church podcast by searching in Spotify for your church name. When the podcast is approved, it will show up in the search results. Church members will be able to find this by searching in Spotify using the church name.
Now you have a podcast for your church. Again, follow these basic guidelines for other podcast services in order to stream your audio sermons on the other podcast services. That’s all there is to it. It only takes a few simple steps. If you need help through the process our team is able to help you with this process. Contact us for more information if you want help.
With the amount of ease that it takes to set up a church podcast, it makes sense to spend the time to set it up. Once the setup is complete the sermons will automatically be added with little bit of regular work. As the sermons are added to the website and the data is filled in for the sermon including the title, and other information, the data will automatically show up on Spotify for each sermon each week.
Now you have a church podcast that is accessible to all church members as well as potential church visitors checking out the website.