Street Corner Preacher, Circa 2012

Do you have a grand vision for digital ministry? This post is probably not for you.

Do you seek a splashy color-coded spread analyzing the latest gadgets for your digital empire? This post is probably not for you.

If you have a pragmatic approach to connecting with congregation and community, enjoy using different tools, and need to review your approach or begin podcasting sermons or other audio ministry productions, read on.

After serving seven congregations in 10 years (interim ministry), I’ve observed how most congregations with sound technology operated from a spaghetti-like heap of cables, microphones, and duct-taped equipment ranging from high quality components, to pieces held together with a hunk of Wrigley’s gum.

Either I had to rely on a congregational insider unwilling to share power, or I had to deal with faulty equipment and the congregation was unwilling to spend more money on audio, and a congregational leadership board unwilling to share their power.

Be aware: sometimes achieving your digital ministry goal is not about knowledge or equipment, but about relationships and authority.

Recording sermons for public use has historically been about the system to which you’re connected, either relationally, technologically, or both. Not only are there people barriers, but technology barriers as well.

How can these barriers be addressed? While I’m not an advocate for end-runs made by a pastor or congregational leader, podcasting sermons is about access to a proclaimed word, a primary calling of ministry.

I’ve executed an ecclesiastical end-run, making sermon podcasting for me akin to being a new brand of street corner preacher.

I never wanted to be a street corner preacher, but I admire the fortitude of someone who stands near a busy intersection, delivering a message about God’s love for the world to the Jane Q. Publics and Joe Smiths of the world.  If I’m going to podcast sermons, someone will listen, right? Someone needs to hear that word, right?

I searched to create a sermon podcasting system that did not rely on navigating power grids both human and technological. Podcasting a sermon is about sharing a proclaimed Gospel message. There are ways to go around the barriers or break through them.

I came to my current system, Hipcast, based on recommendations from colleagues, some research at electronic stores, web searches, and much trial and error. Using Hipcast allows you to get started for around $100-150, with a $5 monthly fee.

I started with the Zoom H1 Handy Recorder, which provides many levels of sound quality, and allows users to record .mp3 or .wav files. I also bought the accessory pack for $25, which includes an AC adapter, microphone wind guard, and mini-tripod that allows for greater recording stability.

When I started podcasting sermons about 18 months ago, I had to rely too much on my web master to post each sermon. Now, with Hipcast, posting to my blog, iTunes and social media platforms is quick and easy.

Additional benefits to Hipcast: audio files won’t bog down your hard drive because they’re stored in the Cloud; you’ll get statistics for podcast use.

Access to my sermons hasn’t exploded, but because I podcast sermons, anywhere from 3-25 more people each week have access to a conversation about scripture and the activity of God in the world.

If I was a street corner preacher, I would be happy with that level of engagement. Maybe I’m a street corner preacher, circa 2012.

Photo Credit: acb