When Jesus was walking the earth over 2,000 years ago — teaching and preaching to the masses — there was no need to improve upon His sermons or His delivery methodologies. In fact, He knew one of the best ways to connect with the people was to be among them. He didn’t stay cooped up in the Temple or the synagogues like an old fuddy-duddy. The Pharisees were great at that. But, not Jesus. He went to where the people were so that they could hear what He had to say. And, more often than not, they hung on His every word.
Not a lot has changed since then. A great sermon is still a great sermon. What has changed is our attention spans and how we broadcast the sermon beyond the physical walls of the church building. It’s not uncommon for a pastor to struggle with holding congregational attention for a full 30 minutes on a Sunday morning. My dad is a pastor. Believe me, it happens. And it’s not necessarily because his message content sucks or his illustrations aren’t engaging, relevant, and funny. It’s just because modern human nature in 2020 is such that we are easily distracted by the most absurd and altogether ridiculous things like our iPhones, our growling stomachs, or the lady on the adjoining pew who brought her pampered Chihuahua into the service.
Anyway, this is why we often feel that we require visual stimuli in order to engage with the message. That’s where digital media enhancement comes in. Of course, once we’ve heard this great sermon, we’re supposed to share it with our friends, family, and co-workers, right? In Jesus’ day, that meant verbally telling someone about it. And you can still do that today. But, thanks to social media, we can broadcast sermons to hundreds of thousands of people every week — including friends who live thousands of miles away — and share them with a much larger audience.
Here are some tools and ideas you should consider implementing to both enhance your pastor’s sermons while seeking to increase audience reach:
#1. On-Screen Sermon Graphic Design
If your church has the hardware and software means to project on-screen visuals, you should be doing it. PERIOD. This is 2020 folks. Time to stop living like neanderthals relying on cave paintings and smoke signals.
I know some of you are thinking: “Well, we just don’t really have anyone in our church with a talent for graphic design.” That may be true. But this excuse doesn’t fly in 2020 either. Have you ever heard of the Internet? There’s this fairly new website out there called Google. It’s a search engine. And if you search for “free worship backgrounds,” you’d be surprised at how many resources are available. Same goes for sermon graphics and social media graphics. Check out CreationSwap and Church Motion Graphics for starters.
#2. Social Media Graphics & Posts During The Week
And speaking of social media, you should be keeping your pastor’s sermon theme fresh across your platforms throughout the week via quotes, graphics, engagement questions, videos, etc — whatever you have the means to do. This way, the sermon doesn’t die between one Sunday and the next Sunday. This approach is particularly helpful when your pastor is preaching through a long series. Perhaps he’s going to take several months to exegete the book of 1st Timothy. This is going to feel like an eternity, but it doesn’t have to if you keep things fresh and engaging across the church’s social platforms.
Use design programs like Canva, Affinity Designer, InDesign, etc. to create social media graphics that feature a compelling quote by your pastor from the message. Maybe even use a hi-res photo of him teaching on stage as the graphic. Ask your Page followers what they thought about Sunday’s message. I bet you’d be surprised at the feedback you’ll get in the comment threads.
If your church has the means to shoot quality videography packages, you could shoot or livestream a short midweek interview with your pastor asking him to challenge the congregation with something from Sunday’s message. Post these videos to your Facebook, Instagram, and/or YouTube channels and encourage folks to share them with friends. Make sure that something in the video encourages or prompts discussion. When it comes to social media engagement, video is king. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these stats from Wyzowl.com:
Takeaway? Video holds our attention longer, is more engaging, and more preferred by the majority of people online. If you can use the medium of digital video to help your people connect with the sermon throughout the week — even if it’s just a simple bumper video — this is where you’ll see a difference.
#4. Sermon Audio and Podcasts
Of course, no church website is complete without a sermon audio page and corresponding podcast. Just because video rules and reigns across social media doesn’t mean audio-only mediums are to be abandoned. In fact, here are some mind-blowing stats to consider from Edison Research and Triton Digital via their annual study known as The Infinite Dial:
For all you podcast junkies out there — and you know who you are — these numbers should inspire you to churn out the best quality sermon audio possible with your church’s technology. Podcast popularity has nearly tripled over the last ten years. Remember that podcasts are popular because they’re convenient and portable. People listen to them from their smartphones, iPods, and tablets while they’re doing other activities like working out, washing the dishes, or picking their kids up from school. If your sermon audio is available across popular podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, TuneIn, and others, you’ll have a much better chance of increasing your online reach and expanding your audience. And you’ll be getting the Gospel out there as well, which is the ultimate end goal anyway.
#5. Your Church App
If your church doesn’t have a smartphone app, it’s worth looking into acquiring one. After all, there’s over 2.7 billion smartphone users in the world. If your church has an official app sitting in those app stores across iOS and Android devices, that’s a lot of potential audience reach. There’s also about 1.35 billion tablet users in the world, a number which has nearly doubled over the last six years. Make sure that your app offers some things that can’t be found on your website so that folks have an incentive to install the app on their device. Weekly sermon notes, videos, short blogs from the pastor, etc. are all great ideas that will keep people coming back to your app on a regular basis for content. Of course, make sure they can do all the standard things like tithe, listen to sermons, and sign up for events as well.
I'm sure I left something out. What ideas do you have? How are you digitally enhancing your pastor’s sermons and increasing online reach for sermon content? What's been successful for you? What hasn’t? Leave some comments below or send me a message and we may discuss it on an upcoming episode of Rescuing Churches.
Need help with all of this digital and social media? Stuck on a project and can't move forward? Book me for a coaching session.
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