How Podcasting Can Help Your Church Build Relationships

I recently stood on a stage in a church where I do not pastor, far from where I live. As I walked out in front of the congregation, I was surprised to be greeted like an old friend. The reason for this was quite surprising: I hosted a podcast with their pastor, so the people felt connected to me.

But what is a podcast, anyway?

Let’s back up a second. A podcast is essentially a show that airs on the internet. Though initially an audio medium, podcasting now refers to both video and audio. There are podcasts on every subject you can imagine: old TV shows, any hobby known to man, parenting, leadership, politics . . . everything. YouTube and Apple Podcasts have made sharing these internet shows easier than ever before. A broadcast studio is not needed, just a basement and a computer.

I was an early adopter of podcasts and was struck instantly by the connection created between podcaster and listener. I vividly remember responding to the podcaster as though they were sitting beside me in my car. I even refer to some hosts as friends just because we have spent so much time “together.”

Like an old friend

This unique opportunity to create connection is something that deserves consideration from local pastors. Connection makes a moderate preacher quite influential in the lives of their flock. That is because of relational trust. I can preach an average sermon, and my local church can truly be moved by it. I am not trying to discount the work of the Holy Spirit. I am merely highlighting the fact that personal connection increases trust, and trust, in turn, lowers the walls held by many walking into the sanctuary on Sunday morning. The Shepherd/Preacher knows that connection makes both roles more effective.

Podcasting is a relatively easy way to make extra connections with your people throughout the week. That’s it. That’s the big sell. A podcast allows an extra touch between you and your people. A point of contact. Though digital, it is meaningful. I am surprised by how many people will come up to me laughing about some joke we told on that month’s episode. It creates a shared point of experience.

Here are some podcasting tips as you consider this tool for your church's context:

1. Do what you can, not what you cannot

I have done audio podcasting because I don’t have the gear or the personnel to produce a video podcast. I have a mic on my desk that is easy to fire up and talk into. The podcast down the road that I co-host is a video podcast. That is a much larger church with much larger resources. I come and record; they deal with the setup, editing, and publication. For churches with limited resources, livestreaming from a phone is very attractive. I do a monthly livestream right from my desk. No mic, no lighting, no nothing. It is about 25 minutes long and requires no editing or work to publish. It happens live and then exists on the internet.

2. Have a purpose

The podcasts that keep people coming back are often the ones that have a specific point. I currently listen to podcasts about comic books, board games, history, leadership, and writing. I intentionally choose topics I enjoy. I currently host a podcast about books with my wife. Every month, we read a book and then get together and discuss it. It is a podcast for book readers. The video podcast I co-host is a Q and A featuring Bible questions. People know what they are going to get if they tune in.

3. Consider a co-host

One thing that podcasting captures well is friendship. I currently listen to a podcast on a hobby I no longer partake in because I love the chemistry between the three hosts. The video podcast I host is praised constantly because of the friendship between me and the lead pastor of that church. We don’t have to try to be anything but what we already are. In the book podcast I host with my wife, people love seeing how we relate to one another. What we have just flows out of us, and people like being able to share that. When choosing a co-host, consider someone with whom you have natural chemistry.

4. Know your audience

The two podcasts I mentioned have a specific audience: a local church. The video podcast is for that local church, while my book podcast is for the church I pastor. Sure, others can listen in if they so desire. But our goal is not to grow this podcast huge. The goal is not numbers or advertising revenue. The goal is to connect with our people. This goal keeps us grounded and approachable. I pick books that I think the people of our church community would enjoy and be blessed by.

The rest is just details. Weekly or monthly? Video or audio? YouTube or Facebook? It all depends on where you are and who you are ministering to. Podcasting as a medium is very personal. And that personal connection can make a difference in connecting to and encouraging the people of your church.

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