Churches Beginning to Embrace Podcasting

|PIC1|Churches are continuing to ride the surge of popularity and growth experienced by the podcast phenomenon by increasingly producing their own audio and video content for use on the iPod. Churches are finding that podcasts are an inexpensive and effective way to spiritually edify both their congregation and other people who may be listening from anywhere on the internet.

The podcast, for those uninitiated, is a simple message usually produced by an individual, and then disseminated to a wide range of people. A church's preacher can easily and quickly prepare sermons in this format, letting others hear the message of Christ. Potential church attendees can even sample the sermons they can expect to hear if they begin to attend that church.

Several key factors have made the investment in podcasting worthwhile for churches: the iPod players they are designed for are near ubiquitous, the people who use iPods are primarily young people – the most difficult to reach age group, and sermons and other spiritual content are being made available in a format much less cumbersome than the traditional audio cassette.

|QUOTE|The number of downloads for audio and video podcasts has been surprising some church leaders. The Church of the Resurrection, in Leawood, Kan., provides podcasts each Tuesday of the previous Sunday's sermon. According to Peter Metz, the church's communication director, "Depending on the topic of the sermon, as many as 4,000 people will view a sermon."

Another crucial plus for the podcast is the number of youth who are being reached through the technology. It is no secret that young people are familiar with new technologies, podcasting and the iPod among them. Although a digital podcast will never replace the face-to-face work of the evangelist, it certainly can act as a spiritual supplement.

|AD|Matt Carlisle, director of Web ministry at the United Methodist Church, thinks that the role of technology will continue to evolve.

"Evangelism and ministry with our youth and future generations of this denomination will look much different,” he said according to the United Methodist News Service (UMNS), “technology will most certainly play a factor in the delivery."

Finally, the digitization of sermons is making them more accessible than ever. With the advent of digital recording and the internet, virtually anybody and anywhere can have access to the sermons a church is willing to provide.

The Bozeman United Methodist Church is one such church that has begun to offer podcast sermons. According to the Rev. Dave McConnell, podcasting "allows members to hear the sermons when they are traveling or ill, and to re-listen if they wish... People asked for my sermons to be available, and this is the easy way to do it."

"We used to tape the sermons on audio tapes, but this is easier, cheaper, quicker," he told UMNS.

Podcasting, still in its infancy, has not yet reached the pinnacle of its influence. Although it must still grow before reaching the number of visitors of traditional media, it is encouraging that the church has been able to embrace this technology. While iPods and podcasts continue their atmospheric growth of popularity, the church can be assured that its message will be up there alongside.

Phil Lewis
Christian Today Contributor

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