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A Small Church Guide to Podcasting and Digital Ministry

December 6th, 2023 | 4 min. read

By Chad Brooks


I believe in podcasting for churches. Patrick outlined the case for podcasting well in his article Why Your Church Should Start a Parish Podcast.

If you’re in a small church, you might assume that this isn’t for you. Your time and resources are limited, after all. But as a long-time small-church pastor, I’ve discovered that podcasts aren’t just possible at small churches; they’re a powerful tool for the small church.

Honestly, I think they’re a better strategy than a rough-quality livestream. They help keep those who miss worship engaged, but they also allow folks to be part of the ministry from far off.

As the dechurched population of America grows, a podcast is the perfect first step to not just engage with the preaching ministry of a church but to function as the front door for engagement and personal discipleship.

But if you’re in a small church, I know what you’re thinking: How do I find the time and resources to do this? 

I found myself asking that question when I moved from a church of 200 to a church of 20, from a full-time pastor to a (very) part-time pastor. I lived 30 miles away from the church, which only made time tighter. Yet, a growing conviction about spiritual formation led me to focus on discipleship. I knew I had a hungry congregation that trusted me to help them grow and reach out to others.

From past experience, I knew that podcasting and digital content could be a key part of my discipleship strategy, but I was worried that this church wouldn't have the resources or ability to produce something.

Thankfully, necessity is the mother of invention. I eventually developed a stack of cheap digital solutions that I could use to overcome the time and resource hurdles, which can help you—if you’re in a small or resource-strapped church—get into podcasting and digital ministry.

Here are five hurdles you’ll encounter in the process, and how you can leap over them.

1. Podcast Audio

Podcasts must have good audio. People will ditch a podcast quickly if the audio quality is trash. Early on, I tried just using my phone, but it didn't work well. But then I remembered my Rode Wireless Go isn't just a wireless microphone designed for cameras, but also an internal audio recorder. And the quality is great. 

This is the most expensive (actually, the only expensive) part.

But with a small investment, you can record your sermon at the touch of a button. It exports as an MP3 file, which means you don't have to edit at all. I use the unedited audio, and the quality is great.

2. Podcast Hosting

Your podcast needs to live somewhere online. Server space used to be expensive, but podcast hosting has gotten cheap. Cheap as in free. Spotify offers one of the easiest ways to release a podcast without cost. You don’t need to be a tech wizard to upload and build a show on Spotify. You can also have it delivered to Apple podcasts and most other podcast platforms through Spotify. 

3. Original Written Content

Recording a sermon is easy, but what if you want to go further and give people content to engage with beyond Sunday morning? I wanted to do that, so the next part of my journey was creating weekly devotional content (in written form) that complemented our podcast, and getting it delivered to people.

My church is rural, and people don't have the best internet skills. I knew that a Google file link would get complicated. But that was an easy fix as well.

To do this, I use PulpitAI, a new AI tool that uses a language model trained on podcasting and spoken word. You can upload a sermon to it, and have it generate all sorts of content based on what you preached. Using this tool, I can easily generate a great first draft of my weekly devotionals. To do that, I just needed to create a custom prompt, which you can use as well.

After uploading my sermon, I ask the AI this exact prompt: "Give me a 5-day devotional, with reflection questions and additional scriptures based off of this sermon."

I then spend a few minutes editing it for my voice. Finally, I check the additional scripture references, and add a few things based on specific convictions and focuses.

(I also use PulpitAI to write an introduction for the podcast show notes and get help with a couple of social media updates for the week.

4. Website and Distribution

But how do you easily and quickly get that devotional content you create to your people?

I recommend Notion, a productivity and project management tool that lets you publish any page you create as a stand-alone website. It functions as a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) page builder.

I use Notion every week to create a quick template for each Sunday. On it, I link to different ways to listen to the podcast, post my devotional, and then publish the page. After that, I email my church a short link to the page on Sunday morning. It’s a one-stop shop with everything they need to engage digitally that week.

You can check out a sample of one of my pages here.

5. Time and Resources

I know this might sound time-intensive, but it only takes me about 20 minutes per week. With all the costs calculated (including the Rode, spread out over a year), this system costs me $12 a week. I'd argue that the return on investment is better than spending the money on livestreaming worship (but that is a different article).

So does it all work?

That was my big question when I started on this podcast journey. Especially after I launched it, and folks in the church received their first-ever weekly update email.

Thankfully, over the next couple of days, I had church members reach out and tell me how helpful it was. Others forwarded it to their children and friends. I knew this was starting to help us engage those folks at the edges of our community. We began to see these folks show up on Sunday.

Then a few weeks later, while at jiu jitsu, I had a friend tell me in the middle of a sparring session, "Hey, I've been listening to your sermons, and I really enjoy it. Can we talk about it sometime?"

That was the first time I ever had a spiritual conversation in the middle of a fight, but then I realized that’s the power of podcasting in the local church—even in one with less than 20 people on a Sunday.

So friends: go forth and start podcasts for the kingdom.

Chad Brooks

Rev. Chad Brooks is a United Methodist Pastor. He's spent the last 15 years pastoring churches at all levels, and currently serves bi-vocationally as the pastor of Glenmora UMC and is the Congregational Vitality Strategist for the Louisiana Conference of the UMC. He also stewards Productive Pastor, producing podcasts and other content about ministry effectiveness through productivity

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