The iPod and other portable mp3 audio devices have revolutionized the transmission of recorded material. I consider this to be especially significant for the Christian community. Many churches now release recordings of sermons and other talks in Podcast form offering potential visitors or even members, the ability to hear the type and style of message without attending a service.
I’m surprised only 5 of the 13 churches I’ve visited and blogged so far distribute their sermons in this manner. (See below for related iPod/mp3 sermon availability status. If I’ve made errors in this listing, I’ll correct them if brought to my attention.)
Churches Offering iPod/podcast of Sermons
Abbott Loop Community Church (currently over 2 months behind on posting sermons)
Anchorage Baptist Temple
Anchorage City Church
St. John United Methodist
Churches Not Offering iPod/podcast of Sermons
Church of Christ South Anchorage
Christ Community Church
Faith Christian Community (podcast shown but non-operational on website-Adobe flash offered instead)
First Congregational Church
First Presbyterian Church (CDs available for purchase)
Holy Family Cathedral
Rabbit Creek Community Church
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
Churches offering podcasts to their members, visitors, and the community at large are to be commended for incorporating this technology in a meaningful manner and without charge to the user.
Nationally, many churches offer their podcasts on the iTunes podcast site. This is an excellent resource offering thousands of religion and spirituality podcast sites to choose from. I also looked at the PodcastAlley website which showed over 2,500 individual religion & spirituality podcast sites to choose from.
In a recent USA Today Story journalist Ron Barnett notes that “A survey last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that more people used the Internet to look for religious and spiritual information than to download music…”. Assuming one has a computer, the price of a 1 gigabyte iPod can be as little as $49. If the average 50 minute sermon is 10 megabytes, then 100 sermons could be downloaded and available for listening on-the-go on your iPod.
If local churches do not take advantage of this inexpensive and useful technology, they may be missing out on one of the most important tools to emerge in many years. And if they do use them and do not post podcasts promptly, they risk being seen as possibly lax in other areas of their ministry. Remember the old adage, “If airline passengers find a dirty seatback tray, they will probably wonder about the condition of the engines.” If you are a church visitor looking for a meaningful message, this may be a way for you to explore the spoken message at various churches.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll take a look at the darker side of using this media.