[Today’s article is a guest post byPaul Clifford, author of Podcasting Church.]
In the twenty-first century, we’re part of a new revolution: The internet enables communication on a global scale. It does this not only to larger geographic areas, but also to smaller groups. This is the era of the niche. Instead of speaking to larger and larger groups, we can now speak to more select groups and individuals from across the globe.
It’s natural to want to repurpose the sermon to reach out to more people, but there are other audiences that remain untouched that we can now reach. Churches can choose to narrow their focus to reach groups that they couldn’t address directly before.
Consider these alternatives to the traditional sermon for a podcast:
1. Timeless Tales: Parents want to raise well-adjusted children who have a moral compass to guide their decisions. What if a church created a weekly bedtime story podcast with classic stories meant to both entertain and instruct. It might be tempting to use only Bible stories (and that’s a viable way to do this), but the stories might also include other tales which would teach children lessons that would help them as they grew. Stories are so central to the human experience that it could be quite effective to tell the story of “The Boy who Cried Wolf” alongside “David and Goliath.” One teaches the importance of being truthful and the other tells about having the courage to fight against large obstacles.
2. Leadership Lessons: Every August, Willow Creek Community Church hosts a leadership conference called “Leadership Summit.” Whether it’s Colin Powell, the CEO of a fortune 500 company, or a church leader like Craig Groeshel, the “faculty” each teach a lesson on leadership. While it’s designed with church leaders in mind, business leaders are welcomed as well. What if a church with a gifted leader did something like this on a weekly or monthly basis? Perry Noble already has something like this with his podcast, but what if the host interviewed different leaders from across the leadership spectrum to learn about different facets of leadership? This could quickly become a resource that draws people to other aspects of the church’s vision.
3. Marriage Minutes: There’s a thriving community of marriage bloggers/podcasters already that teach lessons gleaned from their own lives. Why not pick up on this trend and have someone from the family ministry of your church talk about lessons that they’ve learned. When you have a family that gets healing in their relationship from infidelity or even apathy, why not interview them and learn what they did to join God in the healing? This podcast could include dating ideas and strategies for overcoming the little decisions which separate couples instead of bringing them together.
4. Teen Topics: Despite what adults think, there really are a large number of teens that want to make good choices in dating, education, career, etc. Why not have a show for teens by teens sponsored by your church where students can connect with each other and share advice and struggles? Guys could share how they’re overcoming the temptation to treat girls as objects and girls could share how if feels to really get how much they’re loved by Jesus. Teens who’ve struggled with cutting could share what they’ve done to avoid self-injury. Those who look like they have it all together could talk about what it feels like to feel alone.
5. Musical Moments: In our culture, music plays a huge role. Starting in the late ’90s, VH1 recognized that people wanted to know more about the bands than just their latest single. In a series that continues to the present day, “Behind the Music” sheds light on the stories that often go untold. A church could do something similar with Christian music or even secular music that pertained to a weekend message. What’s the story behind Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt?” Why did we play that hymn? What is the story behind “It is well with my soul?” This could span several genres of music, depending on the type of church that undertook it. As with most art, there is something deeper behind songs that may seem quite shallow. What are those stories?
These are just a few ideas. What are some others? How has your church gone beyond repurposing the sermon and toward reaching out to groups that might ignore the traditional three point presentation of the Word?
Paul Clifford is the author of Podcasting Church, a blogger, podcaster, videographer and church tech consultant, specializing in helping smaller churches take the next step.