Today, we're following up with ideas on podcast episodes you can produce, besides a traditional sermon. Here are 10 ideas to consider for your podcasts:
1. Go beyond a sermon
Most teaching pastors will tell you they leave plenty on the cutting room floor when preparing a message. Sometimes the information is too detailed or requires a deep dive. Other times a rabbit trail would be fascinating for a portion of your congregation, but not everyone would appreciate the anecdote or detail. A podcast would be a great forum, once a week, for a pastor to share more insight, deeper context, or extend the sermon in a public but more casual format.
2. Tell the story of your community
If you want people to care about serving in your community, you have to tell the story of what is going on in your community and why it matters. Set up interviews with local partners you already work with, weave together a short story about a specific service project, and highlight the ways small groups are serving, or give updates on what is happening in your community. It doesn’t always have to be about what your church is doing - sometimes people aren’t even aware of the needs and the opportunities around them in their neighborhoods. A podcast can be a great way to create awareness that leads to action.
3. Provide a spiritual practice
In certain traditions and denominations, there is a rich history of daily devotionals, affirmations, prayers, and meditations. A lot of podcast listening happens when getting ready in the morning, while driving, or while doing dishes. You could help redeem some of that time in someone’s day with a simple, audio spiritual practice. Record a daily, 5-minute reflection, offer a prayer or blessing and affirm God’s presence in their life.
4. Tell stories of life change
Podcasts do not have to be a daily or even an on-going production. Many podcasts have taken on more seasonal formats (like a TV series). As you gather stories of what God is doing in the lives of your people, consider who might be willing to share their story into a microphone. Less intimidating than sitting in front of a camera, you’ll find most people get comfortable quicker when recording audio. This could take the shape of a conversation or a more produced story you might hear on NPR. Release them once a month or during a select number of sermon series. Over time, you can create a library of stories that document God’s faithfulness and activity in the life of your church.
5. Q&A format
A question and answer format can create a meaningful connection between the reality people are facing and the wisdom of your pastors, elders, and staff. Once a week or once a month, have two or three people sit down to respond to questions or tough situations people in your congregation are facing. Get the teaching or senior pastor involved, but don’t limit it to just that person. In a day-and-age where people are looking for understanding and direction, this is a safe way to engage individuals and benefit the whole community.
6. Real life pastoral care
Find individuals (or couples) who are willing to sit down and talk about their spiritual journey and current reality on a podcast. This is different than telling a story you can put a bow on and resolve by the end of the episode. The payoff of this format comes in holding a conversation in the midst of figuring out what it means to follow Jesus or have a healthy marriage or raise kids. You’d obviously need to do some solid vetting and proceed with care, but the power of hearing real people in your community talk with your pastor (or a trusted counselor) has the potential to spark increased vulnerability and a growing desire for authentic discipleship in your church.
7. Podcast for kids
This idea moves beyond your sermon AND your pastor. Have your Children’s Pastor or leader share stories for children. Tell Bible stories, share moral tales, or even give your own reading of public domain children’s stories. This church podcasting idea is a great place for parents to play something besides the radio for their kids on the way to school. And what better way to start the day than by hearing Mr. Bob tell a story about Jesus calming the storm! As a bonus, you’ll also stay at the front of the parent’s mind, and maybe even disciple them too in the process. You don’t have to be original for this kind of podcast. Read from your Children’s Bible, share a fun or kind experience you had, or even go to a public domain story website and read from there.
8. Podcast for students
Students have the same questions as adults when it comes to cultural pressures, but they may require unique answers to understand something. Use a podcast just for youth to help them find hope, purpose, and the peace of God. Address bullying, shootings, and relationships. Show them you care by giving them answers and attention that’s just for them. This can be hosted by your Pastor, Youth Pastor, youth volunteer, or any layperson in the church that can speak wisdom into struggling teens. And what’s cool is that these students may not sit with you face-to-face and admit their struggles, but they will privately hit subscribe and stick with your podcast.
9. Something that Isn’t explicitly Christian
Your podcast doesn’t have to tied directly to your church or even be explicitly Christian in order to be a ministry. Sometimes, you have to go outside of “churchy” subjects in order to be able to speak into the lives of people who are far from God. Here are some topic ideas of ways you could forge connections with people and audiences outside your church: Talk about local resources and attractions. Create content around how Christians should respond to current events happening in your community or in the world. Topics you have confidence or authority over, like leadership or music. Current events and community initiatives.
10. Interviews with other Christian or non-Christian leaders
Interviews are an amazing way to get outside perspectives and forge relationships both inside and outside your church. Your church and community are full of interesting and knowledgeable people, and a podcast is a great way to engage them in meaningful discussions.
Don’t limit yourself to what is happening between the walls of your building or even what is going on in the people of your church. That’s a great place to start looking, but the church is a resource and a benefit for the whole community. Look for stories and ways God is working anywhere in your community. People love great stories and great storytelling, regardless of where it’s coming from. A podcast (or any communication platform) could be the way to build a bridge between your mission and the hearts and minds of the people in your broader community.