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How to Launch Your Christian Podcast

November 8th, 2023 | 13 min. read

By Patrick Miller


In the last year, I’ve spent more time than I care to share on Zoom calls with pastors, ministry leaders, and Christian content creators, trying to figure out whether they should launch a podcast and how best to do it. The whether question is mostly a cost/reward assessment, because they all want to do it—they simply wonder if they have the resources and time.

The good news is that podcasting is inexpensive, and if you’re using the right tech stack (and, even better, recruit a few volunteers), it doesn’t need to be a giant time suck. To help you get started, I’m going to give you the same recipe we’ve used to brew up seven podcasts at our church, which collectively release 600 podcasts a year and reach 400k monthly listeners.

Here is a step-by-step guide to launching your own Christian podcast:

1. Create a target persona

When I ask new podcasters who their podcast is for, the most common answer is “everyone,” followed by the slightly less ambiguous, “Christians.” Neither answer is good. Knowing who you’re creating for will shape the content, register, tone, length, and just about everything in your podcast. Targeting everyone misses everyone. This is the single biggest mistake I see a lot of people make. As a wise marketer once told me, the riches are in the niches. He’s right, even though it’s counterintuitive. We’ve discovered that the narrower our target is, the more people we reach.

More importantly, if you don’t do this, you’ll probably end up with a podcast for yourself. Don’t make a podcast for yourself. Serve God and serve people.

This is why we create one or two target personas for every podcast. The persona is a fictional person who demographically matches the sort of person we want to help. Age. Gender. Education. Vocation. Family. Lifestyle. Biblical literacy. Theological literacy. Give her a name and refer to her frequently throughout the process of creating your podcast.

When we launched our first podcast, I was overseeing a young adult ministry, so my target was Joe: a 25-year-old, single, college-educated, Biblically illiterate male who worked full-time as a loan actuator and played video games for fun.

2. Identify the need/interest

Now that you know who you want help, you can assess how to help them. What are her interests? What are her questions? What are her concerns? What are her spiritual needs? Two of Joe’s biggest spiritual needs were Biblical literacy and a lack of spiritual discipline. Your target may have different felt needs: mental health, conflict in marriage, digital addiction, or loneliness.

Interests can also be a guide. What is your target interested in? Streaming shows? Makeup tutorials on Instagram? Social justice? Caring for neighbors? Find a need that overlaps with the interest.

For example, our second podcast targeted people interested in politics and the news, but who rarely thought about their interest theologically. We met a need they didn’t know they had—cultural apologetics—by overlapping with their interest.

3. Brainstorm content

Now it’s finally time to begin where most people start: brainstorming ideas. I usually do this by creating a Venn diagram.

In the left circle, write a list of podcasts your target persona likely listens to, and identify patterns. Do they all share a similar length? Style? Topic? Tone? Format? Write your observations in the circle.

In the right circle, write a list of podcast topics that address the need/interest you identified: Devotions. Counseling. Prayer. Personality. Marriage. Theology. Evangelism. Friendship. Vocation. Culture.

Now live in the overlap. Do any of your topics fit well with the style of podcast your target prefers? Generate a list of specific content ideas. Choose a format (interview, monologue, dialogue, trialogue) that fits the topic and the target. Set your average podcast length.

In the case of Joe, we knew he preferred either long-form content like Joe Rogan or short-form sports podcasts. At first, we imagined a long-form Bible conversation podcast, but after testing (more on that later), it became obvious that Joe’s Biblical illiteracy made long-form daunting and uninteresting. So we went back to the diagram and tried an alternate idea: short-form daily devotionals.

That idea worked.

4. Recruit a team

The most labor-intensive parts of podcasting (beyond creating the content) are editing and managing your podcast platform (the database storing and distributing your pods). Here’s the good news: if you’re using the right tech stack, you don’t need someone with any IT or audio experience. Here’s the better news: I’ve found that even the smallest churches have at least one tech guy or gal who loves this kind of work and would volunteer to do it in a heartbeat. Online tools like Descript use AI to do a lot of the editing for you and are easy for non-professionals to master.

Alternatively, if you have the budget, there are myriad podcast editors online.

But what about the actual podcast itself?

If you can’t create what you imagined or lack the time to do it, don’t assume there’s not someone among your teachers—someone skilled at teaching or conversing—who would love to use their spiritual gifts to create content. While some of our podcasts are run by pastors, we’ve also equipped four lay teachers (none are on staff) to run several. Of course, it’s not easy—and we try to make sure they never need to worry about the tech side of things—but they all love their podcasting ministry.

One last thought: don’t do this alone if you can help it. Spreading the work of content creation across more people makes podcasting more sustainable in the long term. None of our podcasts have a single host, and that’s by design. It’s part of how we guarantee longevity.

5. Buy podcasting equipment

Unless you’re an audiophile, you probably have four big concerns: cost, quality, mobility, and ease of use. Here are three options to consider:

Low cost, good quality, highly mobile, easy to use: Blue Yeti makes quality, inexpensive USB microphones that allow you to record directly onto your laptop. Grab a pair of over-ear headphones and a pop filter (trust me, you need both), and you’re ready to go live. All in, this runs about $200.

Medium cost, great quality, medium mobility, medium ease of use: The Shure SM7B is a nice choice on a medium budget because it’s a low-weight, high-quality mic that doesn’t require an expensive rig or pop filter. You will need to buy a desktop mic stand, mic cable, a USB audio interface, and over-ear headphones. All in, this runs about $800. 

High cost, exceptional quality, medium mobility, medium ease of use: The Electro-Voice RE20 is a staple in the radio industry, and excellent for podcasting. To use it, you’ll also need a desktop mic stand, shock mount, mic cable, pop filter, memory card, and a high end audio interface. Oh, and don’t forget over-ear headphones. All in this runs about $1,700.

6. Dry Run, Testing & Survey

It’s finally time to get behind the mic and record your first podcast. Make sure your gear is working. Troubleshoot problems. Then hit record.

But don’t rush to publication!

Instead, focus on recording three sample podcasts you don’t plan to publish. Not only will this help you work out the podcast structure and get used to speaking into a podcast mic, it will also give you an opportunity to get listener feedback via surveys.

Create a list of 100 people who approximate your target persona and invite them to listen to one or all of the raw audio files. Send them an anonymous survey asking for demographic information and specific feedback. If you want some sample questions, you can check out the survey we made for Ten Minute Bible Talks.

Once you get your survey back, take it seriously. If people found it disengaging, or wouldn’t listen, or found significant problems with the concept, go back to the brainstorming phase. If their feedback was more positive, ask how you can hone the concept to make it more useful and engaging.

I did this with our first podcast, and the feedback I received was… abysmal. The podcast was too technical, too difficult to understand, and too condescending. Worse yet, it was a clearly a knock-off of other podcasts that did what we were doing much better. That feedback was tough to hear, but it saved me from launching a half-baked, ill-advised podcast.

After the survey, we went back to the drawing board and created a new podcast that now averages four million downloads per year. Without feedback, the original podcast would’ve probably died an embarrassing death.

One last thought: there are no perfect podcasts. Give yourself some grace if you don’t score top marks. It takes time to get good, and even the best podcasters have bad episodes. Once your podcast goes live, you must never forget that your best and worst episodes all share the same destiny: a backlog. A few people will listen to everything you create, but most people will simply engage with what’s most recent. So if you have a miss, don’t fret. There’s always next week.

7. Establish a posting schedule

Once you have your podcast concept hammered out, decide how frequently you want to post. The single most important thing you can do to keep your people engaged is to stay consistent. Post on the same day, at the same time, with the same frequency. If you post at random, people will never work your podcast into regular rotation.

At a minimum, I recommend posting at least every other week. Every week is even better. The chief thing to avoid (beyond a random schedule) is a seasonal podcast. That format works well for highly produced, highly focused podcasts. But we’ve seen time and again that normal podcasts lose a significant part of their audiences between seasons. If you’re invested in using podcasting as part of your parish ministry, there is no substitute for grinding out consistent content that people can count on. 

8. Set goals

You have limited time and resources, so it’s important to set download benchmarks: if we receive less than ___ downloads in the first year, we will shut down the podcast. Of course, this is context-specific and based on format. A once-a-week podcast will net more downloads in a year than an every-other-week podcast simply because there is twice as much content to download.

I pastor at a large church, so when we launched our twice-weekly devotional podcast, we set a modest goal: 1,000 downloads per year. That’s only 100 downloads per episode. But we figured that if 100 people in our church were having twice weekly devotionals, that was worth our time and resources. 

9. Create your podcast name

Most people start here, but that’s a mistake. Early naming can hem you into a single idea before you’re ready to commit. Moreover, surveys sometimes give you your best ideas.

As you work on naming, keep your target persona in the foreground. If you’re aiming for New Yorker readers, go literary. If you’re aiming for Midwestern businessmen, go straightforward. If you’re aiming for stay-at-home moms, go Magnolia Network. You get the idea.

Also, remember: you’re not the hero of your podcast. This isn’t about you; it’s about Jesus. You’re positioning yourself as a wise guide. You’re Obi-Wan. The listener is Luke Skywalker. And you’re helping him connect with the Force (I swear I’m not promoting Buddhist theology, but you get the idea). Your title should speak to your persona’s felt needs. It should give them a clear sense that you’re there to guide them, and a clear sense of what they’ll be getting if they listen.

For Joe (the aforementioned Midwesterner), we landed on a straightforward title: Ten Minute Bible Talks. It says exactly what the podcast is. No confusion. Utter simplicity. We added a few keywords as a subheading—“Weekly Bible Study and Devotions”—so that people searching for this kind of content on their podcast app could find it.

Resist the urge to use technical or overly poetic language, unless that’s what your target wants. You don’t want a name that impresses people; you want a name that invites people to listen.

10. Create your podcast cover image

You will need a few assets before you go live. If you have people in your church able to make graphics or audio content, lean on them for help. If you don’t, you can find qualified freelancers on websites like Upwork. Costs vary, but I would expect somewhere between $200–$1000, depending on how many rounds of editing you require.

Podcast Cover Image: This is how people will recognize your podcast on their player going forward. It’s important to remember that the cover image will be viewed on small screens, often as a small icon. For that reason, I avoid overly busy/complex images and try to make the name as legible as possible. Additionally, it’s worth searching for similar podcasts. Do they all have the same color palette? Don’t use those colors! Make your podcast stand out on someone’s screen.

With Ten Minute Bible Talks, we chose an (admittedly Halloweenish) black and orange palette because almost every other podcast used cool colors—blue and green, mostly. We were targeting young men, so we thought a stark but modern sans-serif font would be most appealing.

Note: Free programs like Canva have simple editing and AI tools you can use to make a logo if you don’t have a big budget.

11. Create your podcast intro and outro

Let’s start with the obvious: most podcasts begin with a brief introduction over music, explaining what the podcast is.

Now for the less obvious: The length and style of the intro needs to match what your target persona expects from the podcast, so go listen to podcasts they listen to and take notes. For Ten Minute Bible Talks, we wanted something brief and to the point: “Welcome to Ten Minute Bible Talks, where we connect the Bible to your life in the time it takes to get to work.” For Joe, this title not only explains what he’ll get—brief Bible application—but connects to his workaday life. It doesn’t feel overproduced. The music isn’t moody. The whole thing exudes accessibility.

As for music, pick something your target persona would enjoy listening to that fits the mood of the podcast. Don’t start a podcast about spiritual disciplines with a hurried techno-pop track, even if your target likes that sort of thing. Make sure it’s instrumental, or your listener will have a hard time hearing your words.

You will need to get the rights to any music you use. You can find royalty-free music with no subscription required at Tunetank. If you have a budget, you can buy a subscription or rights to individual songs at Epidemic Sound.

The outro should, like your intro, be written with an eye toward your target persona. There’s no need to restate your name or the podcast name; just thank them for listening and give them one call to action. After a lot of testing, we’ve learned that hardly anyone clicks links in your show notes—so don’t tell people to do that. Instead, focus on one of two things: sharing or rating.

Share: “If this podcast helped you grow in your faith, you should text this episode to a friend or a family member you think might enjoy it.”

Rating: “If this podcast helped you grow in your faith, would you do us a favor and leave a rating and a review? That helps other people find content like this and grow too.”

Generally, I lean toward sharing. We emphasize texting over social media because we have the data: texts drive more podcast traffic than social media posts. It makes sense. If a friend posts about a podcast they like on Facebook, you think, “That’s interesting,” and move on. But if they text you an episode and say you should listen, you’re far more likely to do so.

If you want to credit the people involved in the podcast, do so after the call to action. Most people turn off the podcast when the intro music starts, so you need to get to the ask as soon as possible.

As for outro music, I recommend using something similar to your intro, if not the same song. If you used the chorus in the intro, try the bridge or verse in the outro. If you don’t want to use the same song, consider finding music by the same artist.

Note: If you use a dynamic podcast hosting service like Megaphone (more on that below), I would recommend making your outros and intros dynamic ads. This doesn’t mean you’re using them to advertise, but simply that you can change them at will on every podcast episode. So if you’ve got a church event coming up and want to share about it, you can do so, and then easily turn it off once the event passes.

12. Build a tech stack

Choosing the right software and hosting services upfront will save you a lot of grief (and time) in the future. Here are a few options to consider, in order of importance.

Tools you definitely need:

Podcast Hosting: To publish your podcast, you’ll need a podcast hosting service. Thankfully, the market is flooded with quality options. Libsyn and Podbean are both relatively inexpensive, user-friendly options that allow you to track downloads. If you have a larger budget, you should consider Spotify’s hosting service, Megaphone. This service allows you to place dynamic content in podcasts.

Tools you may need:

Audio and Graphics: If you (or a volunteer) have some audio experience, I recommend using Audacity for both recording (you’ll need this if you’re using a USB mic or interface) and editing. It’s an open-source program that’s free to use. If you’re a pro, then Logic Pro is the best choice. If you need even simpler tools for graphics or audio editing, I recommend Canva and Descript, respectively, or using freelancers.

Digital Interview Interface: If you’re doing digital interviews, Zoom is okay, but the audio is compressed and a bad internet connection can sink you. Instead, I highly recommend You can use it two hours a month for free, or buy a subscription to increase usage.

Tools you should consider: 

Project Management: If you’re working with a team, using project management software like Monday or Base Camp can save you a tremendous amount of time by reducing emails and unnecessary communication.

Database: If you’re planning on building newsletters out of your podcast, creating downloadable content, collecting contact information, or advertising on social media, I recommend using a customer relationship manager (CRM) to manage your data. Mail Chimp is an affordable but limited option with mediocre data tracking. Though more costly, HubSpot is by far the most robust option available.

(If you’re wondering what we use: Megaphone for podcast hosting, freelancers for audio editing and graphics, Riverside for interviews, Monday for project management, and HubSpot for our CRM.)

13. Record your first three episodes and submit for publication approval

Once your tech stack is up and running, you should record your first real episodes for publication. These should include your intro and outro. Listen through them all to make sure you’re sure about going forward. If you need to re-record any component, do so before you move to publication.

Using your podcast hosting service—and this step does vary from host to host—submit your first podcasts and your podcast cover to all the major podcast hosts for approval. This should include Apple and Spotify at the very least. Apple can take one to six weeks to approve a podcast, so make sure you give yourself enough time.

14. Launch and announce (and announce, and announce)

 It’s finally time for the big day: your podcast is live, your schedule is set, your team is in place, and the content is flowing. There’s only one more step: Let people know. If you’re doing this in a church setting, I recommend using all of your communication channels (announcements, emails, social media) to highlight the podcast for at least four to six weeks. Don’t just tell people that it exists. Tell them how it will help them deepen their love for Jesus.

If this sounds excessive, just remember: normal people won’t act based on a single announcement. By the time they get to the parking lot, they’ve already forgotten. By the time they finish the email, a kid is crying and needs their attention. That’s why you need to remind them multiple times early on.

After six weeks, reduce announcements to once a month, and then to a few times a year. (I find that early January and late August work best.)

15. Create, track, and learn

Now the real work starts. You’re now responsible for discipling people digitally, which means that you’ll need to create a rhythm in your workweek for podcasting. Remember, consistency is key.

As the year goes on, periodically track downloads to see if you’re gaining traction or losing it. Normally, you’ll get a burst of downloads at the beginning, and then it drops to much fewer a few weeks in. That’s normal. What you’re looking for is slow growth over time. Don’t be discouraged by dips (especially during vacation season and Christmas). The goal is that over time, your download peaks will get higher—and your valleys, too. If you discover that a few episodes do exceptionally well, try to figure out why, and use those insights to improve every episode.

A Final Thought

This newsletter is already four times longer than a normal one, but I don’t want to lose the forest for the trees. Yes, this process will take hard work and time (probably several months), but at the end, you’ll have something that will help people in your church grow spiritually and connect with your ministry more frequently. The days of parish pastors walking around the village and visiting with parishioners may be behind (most of) us, but podcasts make something similar possible.

When we launched Ten Minute Bible Talks, I didn’t realize that. But within months, I had friends at church stopping me to talk about what they learned on the podcast. More than one said to me, “I hope this isn’t weird, but it’s kind of like I get to talk to you every day.” I don’t think that’s weird. I think it’s beautiful.

Digital technology has taken so much away, so why not find a way to take something back? Start a parish podcast, redeem a small plot of digital land, and help your people redeem their time by listening.


Patrick Miller

Patrick Miller (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary) is a pastor at The Crossing. He offers cultural commentary and interviews with leading Christian thinkers on the podcast Truth Over Tribe, and is the coauthor of the forthcoming book Truth Over Tribe: Pledging Allegiance to the Lamb, Not the Donkey or the Elephant. He is married to Emily and they have two kids.

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