The Techno-Savvy Church and the Podcast Pastor

Sam Rainer

May 30, 2008

The Barna Group recently published some research on technology and the church. Links to the studies can be found here and here. To engage in two good conversations on the subject click here and here.

What I found intriguing were the stats on podcasts. I listen to three or four sermons a week via podcast. And I was surprised at the prevalence of Christians who listen to electronic sermons, as well as the lack of a generational divide:

The study found that 38% of evangelicals and 31% of other born again Christians had listened to a sermon or church teaching via digital recordings available on the Internet (often called a “podcast”), compared with 17% of other adults. In macro-terms, an enormous audience of roughly 45 million Americans reports going digital to acquire church sermon and teaching content. In all, one out of every four adults – 23% – said they downloaded a church podcast in the past week.

The profile of people who had listened to sermon podcasts cut across generational lines, with older adults just as likely as young residents to listen in. Residents of the South (31%) were twice as likely as those in the Northeast (14%) to access church podcasts. Similarly, Protestants (32%) were more intrigued by such content than were Catholics (18%) and the same held true for non-mainline attenders (38%) compared to mainline Protestants (16%). African-Americans (50%) were very loyal listeners, especially when contrasted with Asians (14%). Furthermore, those who are economically downscale (35%) were more likely to listen to church podcasts than were upscale adults (10%).

Our church is working through an entire website overhaul, and we plan on podcasting the sermons. So this research is encouraging. What about you guys? Any success stories with making your sermons, teaching, or worship music available in Internet hinterland?

Ed Stetzer poses some good, general questions about the church and technology:

There is no virtue in being the cool, high-tech church, or in being the low-tech, minimalistic church. It would do us well to ask ourselves a series of questions when it comes to the use of technology in our churches. For example:

  • Does the tech help to magnify the gospel, or does it become the focus?
  • Does the tech help develop real community (shared lives) or help create an artificial one?
  • Does the tech help overcome natural, or cultural barriers that can interfere with worship and church life?
  • Does the tech serve a real purpose, or is it just for show?

One comment on “The Techno-Savvy Church and the Podcast Pastor”

  1. I think in this case the techonology helps magnify the gospel, and multiplies your ability to be able to reach people outside your church.

    I wouldn’t say that it does much to foster community, with the exception it helps attendees access missed messages when gone on vaction, etc. So they feel they are on the same page. I know it is easier for me to go to a website and listen online than to request a CD (ultimately it is cheaper to do a podcast than to do CDs). I’m also not sure how it helps to overcome barriers to worship, other than say it gives someone the ability to “check out” your church before they actually attend.

    So I would say it serves a real purpose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *