Pastor’s Guide To Blogging
Soon after I started my blog, Reallivepreacher.com, I began communicating with a gay man in California who is living with AIDS. Through my blog, we began what has become a four-year friendship. Recently, he called me. I had written something on my blog that had moved him, and he phoned to tell me, “I just wanted you to know, I kind of think about myself as a Christian now.”
I’ve had a number of these types of encounters through my blog, and all of them came out of an honest sharing of who I am, instead of attempts to evangelize. I now believe, as do many pastors around the world, that my blog is as fruitful an instrument as my pulpit.
HOW TO DO IT:
Set-up Time: 20 minutes to set up your blog
Maintenance: 15 minutes a day to blog
1. Choose blog software. TypePad.com and WordPress.com offer both easy and inexpensive ways to create a professional blog. Blogger.com is free.
2. Register a domain name (such as Johnsmith.com), and direct it to your blog URL. If you switch to different blog software or another service, you’ll be able to take your name and your readership with you. Register a domain name at Yahoo.com under the Small Business section.
3. Start writing. You’re entering a system of writing and publishing that’s purely natural selection. Be honest, talk straight and write well. If your blogs are intriguing and eloquent, you’ll eventually attract readers. Make sure you include an “About” section to let readers know who you are.
4. Promote your blog. It’s rare that someone starts a blog, and a lot of people find it immediately. However, you can promote your blog by using targeted keywords in your titles, links and blog posts. Search engines like Google look for these words, and you’ll maximize the chances of your blog appearing in search results.
You can also promote your blog by actively participating in the blogging community. Some simple ways to do this:
Visit other blogs, read them and leave a comment with your blog address.
Reference,quote and link to other blogs in your blog.
“Blogroll” other writers, which means listing their blog among “favorite blogs” on your site. Understand that in the blogosphere, being blogrolled is a big deal, but when people list you, they often expect you to return the favor.
5. Use good blogging etiquette. It’s OK to give your honest opinion in a blog comment. Don’t be surprised when people do on yours. When you’re leaving a comment on someone else’s blog, realize this is not objective journalism–it’s a blog.
6. Write several times a week. When you don’t update your blog frequently, readers move on.
7. Be aware. Everything you say has consequences. In any church, pastors who write honestly about their struggles will have critics.
8. Don’t preach. The blog world is particularly sensitive to agenda-driven blogs. Instead, think “conversation” and honestly share who you are. Blogs are a wonderful way to share with people you might never meet, but remember to do other bloggers the honor of being in relationship with them.
Pastor’s Guide to Podcasting
David Russell and Mark Batterson
At National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, D.C., we are deeply convicted of the need to redeem technology and use it for God’s purposes. There’s a strong tradition for that. Gutenberg could have copied anything on his printing press, but he chose the Gospel.
And the Church needs to compete. We need to get our message into the hands of as many people as possible, and podcasts—digital broadcasts made available on the Internet—are proving very effective. If it’s worth preaching, it’s worth podcasting. Podcast your weekly messages, but also explore other types of podcasts: 20-minute motivational talks, updates, core values, leader touch-points, “radio shows.”
At NCC, we ask new visitors how they heard about us, and they often recount stumbling across our podcasts on a friend’s MySpace. Although approximately 1,000 people around the Q.C. Metroplex attend our weekly services, thousands more tune in to our weekly podcasts.
HOW TO DO IT:
Set-up Time: 1-2 hours to record your podcast
Maintenance: 1 hour a week to podcast your weekly sermon
1. Plug your microphone into your computer.
a. Recommended Mics:
i. Samson COIU (samsontech.com), $80
ii. The Heil PR40 (heilsound.com), $260
2. Open your recording application and set up the track(s) you want to record. This process depends on the software you’re using, so check the Help section for more detailed instructions.
a. Recommended recording applications for Windows:
ii. Adobe Audition adobe.com/products/audition), $300
b. Recommended Mac applications:
i. Garage Band and iWeb, packaged with OSX
ii. Apple Logic (apple.com/logic), $300 for Express version
3. Check the mic “levels” to make sure you don’t see red on the level meter when you talk, which could cause distorted output. Laugh or speak at your highest volume while checking to ensure the recording isn’t going to “peak.” Record a few seconds of talking at normal volume, then stop and play back that section. Sound good? Delete that track.
4. Prepare the room for recording. Close all doors and windows. If the room has hard floors, lay down towels or blankets throughout the room. Eliminate any other obvious ambient noise—fans, cell phones, digital watches.
5. Start recording. Keep podcasts, even sermons, to 30 minutes or less, or you’ll lose most of your audience. Begin your regular sermons with a shout-out to your podcast audience to make them feel included. When you’ve finished, press the stop button in the recording
application and save the work there. Edit the track(s) if you need to add royalty-free music intros, fix speech errors or boost a weak mic signal.
6. Export the final version to mp3 format. Pay attention only to the exporting option called the “bitrate” option. The ideal bitrate for an mp3 podcast is 64 kbps on a monochannel format. The resulting clarity is near that of a CD, with a manage-able file size. Name the output file whatever you like, but keep it short.
a. CD Ripping: If you already record your weekend sermons onto CD, use iTunes or another CD ripping application to encode straight to mp3 file format.
7. Locate your Web host. This is online space where you’ll store and deliver your podcast files.
a. Recommended Web Hosts:
i. Our Media (ourmedia.org), free
ii. landl (landl.com), $2.24/month
8. Upload the mp3 file to a directory on your Web hosting space using an FTP client. (FTP means “file transfer protocol,” responsible for managing file transfer on the Web.)
a. Recommended FTP for Windows:
i. SmartFTP (smartftp.com), $37
b. Recommended FTP for Mac:
i. Fetch (fetchsoftworks.com), $25
Now create a folder called “podcast.” Inside, create a folder called “Audio” to differentiate between audio and video podcasts. Upload the file inside that folder. The direct link to that mp3 file will be: http://www.yourdomain.com/podcast/audio/yourfile.mp3. Make a note of that link and be precise. Capitalization and accuracy are important.
9. Deliver your audio file on the Web. Podcasting offers a method of subscription using technology called RSS or “Really Simple Syndication,” which pulls a set of data (like text, audio or video) into one place for your listeners.
Use a blogging tool like WordPress (wordpress.org) or Blogger (blogger.com) to deliver your podcast. If you don’t already have an account, sign up for one to receive a domain, such as yourchurch. WordPress.com. Log in. Now create a “post” with the title and description of your podcast. Then add that link in the description and “publish” the post. Also post the podcast on your MySpace profile.
Congratulations! You just made your podcast publicly available and simultaneously created a podcast feed. See it for yourself by going to yourchurch.wordpress.com/feed. It won’t make
sense to you, but it will to podcast feed readers.
10. Let iTunes know you’re there. iTunes (apple.com/itunes) is the indisputable king of podcasting directories–it’s a good idea to be listed there. To do this, submit your podcast feed to the iTunes directory. Once your podcast is listed with iTunes, create a one-click link to the podcast and send it via e-mail or post it to your Web site, giving people with iTunes a simple method of subscribing.
You’re done! Audiences can now access your podcast with just a computer and an Internet connection. If podcasting still sounds too complex, recruit tech-savvy teenagers in your church to help.’
FOR A PASTOR’S GUIDE TO E-NEWSLETTERS, VISIT OUTREACHMAGAZINE.COM
This article “A Pastor’s Guide to Digital Outreach” written by various authors is excerpted from Outreach Magazine a Jan/Feb 2007 edition.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”