A/G Podcasts? Maybe. But meanwhile…

A/G Podcasts? Maybe. But meanwhile…

MicrophoneFound yesterday on the AG-NEWS announcement list:

AG News wants to know if podcasts of sermons/messages by the local church is widespread.

Take the short AG News poll and let us know! Click here to begin

I took the poll.

I listen to a lot of sermons and other spoken word content on my PocketPC. I load it up each week with chocolaty goodness and fill my mind while commuting the two hours I spend driving each day.

Here’s to hoping the A/G decides to promote podcasting by the local church. Though, not every church needs to (or should) podcast, it would be good to get some of our better preachers more exposure.

Meanwhile, check out my good friend John Abela‘s online audio initiative for A/G preachers at:

Dedicated to providing a central location for all Assemblies of God pastors and their online audio sermons for their church members and the mass public to access them!

John is a former A/G pastor, crack coder (he co-wrote one of the most popular online community fora available today: phBB), and accumulator/creator of a vast horde of A/G related websites including AGJobs, AGSingles, and AGPrayer … among others.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the A/G HQ got into the podcasting game … in the next couple of years, especially with their new A/G web-hosting initiative for local churches (free: AGChurches.org). But I’d also be surprised if the local pastors got on board with them — what with the typical pastor’s distrust of initiatives out of Springfield, Missouri.

If I hear more, I’ll be sure to track and post it.

[tags]BlogRodent, assemblies-of-god, assembly-of-god, podcasting, podcast, free-church-site, web-hosting, mp3, ag-sermons, sermons, online-audio[/tags]

7 thoughts on “A/G Podcasts? Maybe. But meanwhile…

  1. Kyle

    I’m probably in the minority, but I haven’t listed to a podcast yet, and I don’t see any potential for it in the future. I do all of my web surfing in public terminals, where silence is most golden of all, and where my time is extremely limited. Even if I were in a position to save a podcast and listen to it somewhere else, the time factor would be extemely limiting. Basically, I need a $200-$300 investment for podcast listening to be useful for me. Partially for an ipod or equivalent, and partially for a car sterio that can handle mp3s or some kind of direct feed. Not happening.

    What I’m truly desperate for, is more pastors and theologians who blog. I’ve made it a habit from the very beginning to post a transcript of my sermons. It’s easier for me because I write everything out first anyway. Nevertheless, it amazes me how few people in positions of official authority do anything resembling blogging, and I am the poorer for it.

    Can you persuade anybody to work on blogging before they make the jump to podcasting?

  2. carl

    Kyle you are missing out. All you need is the ability to download a sermon and burn it on a cd. that costs around $0.70. Though that is not exactly a podcast it is the same thing.

    There are several pastor’s ministries that I follow and have been greatly blessed by. I also have listened to a host of Leonard Ravenhill’s sermons this way.

  3. Jeremy

    I listen to most of my Podcasts using http://www.netvibes.com, and you don’t have to actually download it, the podcast plays in the browser. I also listen to them on my Pocket PC, what program does Rich use to sync podcasts with his pocket pc?

  4. Rich Post author


    I don’t think you’re in the minority. Most people have never even heard of “podcasts” (which are nothing more than MP3 files made available both through the Web and through an online “feed” called an “RSS feed” that you can “subscribe” to, usually for free). And most folks also don’t have a portable MP3 player to really take advantage of podcast files. Yet, as Carl noted, you don’t need an MP3 player or an iPod to enjoy podcasts. You can listen online. I will sometimes play a podcast through my computer and Web browser when I’m doing stuff around the house or in the garage.

    There’s a lot of talk about the term “podcast” and whether it misleads people into thinking they must have a portable MP3 player (especially an iPod). But, so far, the term seems entrenched. It’s unlikely that “netcast” or other alternatives will catch on this late in the game.

    But since you do all your surfing at public terminals you wouldn’t be able to enjoy MP3 files even through your browser.

    But as to your comment that you’d need a $2-300 investment to enjoy downloadable MP3 files, not true, not true! There are scads of inexpensive MP3 players around that will play hours of audio for less than $100. MP3-capable (and rechargeable) CD-Players can be had for under $30 (but you’d have to burn the CDs, naturally). As of tonight (October 17, 2006), here are a few good deals:

    Cool Tool: VR3

    “If you don’t want to spend $300 for an iPod and FM transmitter, now you can get MP3 audio in your car for just $30 with the VR3. With a good capacity keychain flash drive (a 500MB stick costs just $45), you can load up lots of great audio for your car (500 MB = 8 hours of audio files, or 16 half-hour programs). Already own a flash drive? You are more than halfway there. Plug the flash drive into your computer’s USB port, copy over the downloaded files you want to listen to, and plug the drive into your VR3, which sits in your car’s cigarette lighter port. The VR3 plays through your car’s FM Tuner and is grounded, so the audio quality is as good as your car stereo…”

    EDGE DiskGO! MP3 Player, USB Flash Drive, voice recorder

    “[This] 128 MB flash player, compared to other flash MP3 players on the market, is very inexpensive at around $35. According to the manufacturer this player will last approximately 8 hour(s) between charges. … Flash-based players are a little more durable than their disk-based cousins. If you bike or jog with your MP3 player, you may want to opt for a flash player like this one.”

    Cool Tool: iRock

    “This gadget is a low-power FM transmitter that plugs into the 1/8th-inch headphone jack of any MP3 or portable CD player. I use the iRock with my iPod to play music over my car radio. I like it much better than those cassette adaptors that require you to keep a wire hanging out of your cassette player. I also use it with the boom box in my kitchen. The signal covers most of our house.”

    It seems like I’m always seeing MP3 players on the racks at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and other major retailers for less than $50 a pop. If you ever get access to a computer where you can download stuff to the hard drive then save it to a peripheral connected via USB, I’d seriously recommend a good, inexpensive player — especially if you enjoy spoken-word audio such as audio books, radio broadcasts, talk shows, sermons, or podcasts. There’s more to MP3 than just podcasts, after all.

    One thing I do is time-shift my radio talk-show enjoyment. I use commercial software from RadioTime to record a couple radio programs (“Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg” and “The Denis Prager” show) and I listen to them on my commute.

    Spoken-word audio can easily replace any TV-viewing habits you may have formed … if you let it!

    You noted you like blogs and sermon transcripts. If you weren’t using a public-access terminal, I would recommend PreachingToday.com for you, which includes sermon transcripts, sermon audio, sermon illustrations, sermon workshops, PowerPoint files, cartoons, and more — all a big help for pastors crafting new sermons. This is the best sermon resource site on the planet — even if I do work for the parent company.

    You asked:

    Can you persuade anybody to work on blogging before they make the jump to podcasting?

    A useful first step to podcasting is getting a blog — especially since most blogging platforms will turn an uploaded MP3 file into a podcast automatically. So, it’s a pretty sure bet that if a church or preacher has a podcast, they already have a weblog. But many preachers don’t preach from a transcript, and getting a transcript of a sermon online is, in some ways, more problematic than posting a simple audio file. Here are some problems with transcript publication versus podcasting:

    • Most would feel that they’d have to “polish” their transcript before releasing it into the wild, especially if their transcripts are more of a fleshed-out outline than a full-on transcript.
    • Since transcripts are more easily “stolen” and repurposed as original content or original sermons, many won’t put their transcript online to prevent theft and plagiarism. Sure, one could argue that sermons should be free for the benefit of the Kingdom, but many people don’t like their words “borrowed” without credit or compensation (especially the most popular preachers). Like it or not, that’s a barrier to entry, and transcripts are easy to repurpose.
    • Transcripts get quoted and redistributed through email and on the Web far more easily than audio. Many preachers feel that they don’t want anything they say to be taken out of context from the entirety of their sermon — and if a preacher is given to making provocative statements, a transcript would be a potential legal liability.
    • In my experience, most people don’t enjoy reading sermon transcripts, they prefer hearing them instead (most people don’t enjoy reading, period). So, considering the preacher’s purpose of putting their sermons online is important. Is the preacher building an online repository of sermon resources for others to use? Then, yes, a transcript makes perfect sense. But if a preacher is putting a sermon online for others to enjoy and benefit from, the most useful form will be an audio file.

    Jeremy, you asked:

    I also listen to them on my Pocket PC, what program does Rich use to sync podcasts with his Pocket PC?

    I a commercial tool (MightySync) that allows me to sync folders on my computer with folders on the flash card (something that ActiveSync won’t do — it only syncs with the on-board memory).

    After I’ve listened to 5-600 MB of audio, I delete the files from my “podcasts” folder on my computer, drag about 5-600 MB of new MP3 files I want to listen to over to it, and activate the sync. Then I go make coffee and annoy someone in their cubicle. A half an hour later, my PocketPC is filled up and ready to go! I don’t keep the MP3 files I listen to unless there’s something really special about one (I treat listening to podcasts like radio, actually), so when I delete the files from my synced “podcasts” folder, they’re both deleted off my PocketPC and deleted from my computer as well.


  5. Kyle

    Thanks, Rich. The VR3 looks like exactly what I’m looking for. I like the iRock, but it hardly works with my flash drive.

    I know I’m in the minority for preferring the written word over the spoken, but it still irritates me that I can read countless blogs from professional politicians and economists, but the vast number of religious blogs are by people who have at best a cursory education in theology. The Reformation was hardly led by laymen. But the if situation we’re in today were a mirror of other times, Luthor’s 95 theses would have been published by a barkeep attending Luther’s church. It might have been good, but it would hardly have sparked a religious revolution. And pity poor Luther for worrying about his legal liability!

  6. John Abela

    Wow, thanks for the plugs Richard!

    I’ll tell ya.. ChristianBlog.Com is starting to seriously rock!! It’s been in development for about 11 months now and is getting set to officially go public on November 16, 2006. We are already getting ~1.5 million unique page hits a month and getting about 15-25 new members a day. But more importantly than numbers is the amount of ministry taking place at ChristianBlog.Com! It is not “just a blogging website” anymore! While blogging is at the very core of the software, we’ve got things like friends list, photograph galleries, private messages, and before the public launch we’ll have the Groups section completed. The website has an amazingly solid core of Christians from multiple walks of faith and life who are ministering to each other and everybody else that has joined! It has just been amazing to see the amount of ministry taking place between the members of the website … truly astounding!

    Oh and AGSermons.com is growing pretty quickly too now! It is starting to get a constant group of pastors using it to post their audio and video sermons online. And now that we’ve got the RSS feed finished, we are able to provide to the pastors a feed back to them that they can put into their website to display all of their sermons, so they no longer have to maintain multiple websites just for their sermons! Boooyaah!

    And of course there is assemblyofgodjobs.com (aka: agjobs.org) which has been around for 7-odd years now. It is growing by leaps-and-bounds! We just had our 15,000th member (in three years) join a few weeks ago!! If you stop to consider the amount of licensed pastors in our fellowship, I think that speaks wonders for the ministry that is taking place there! I really do not know of any other A/G website that is providing the type and amount of ministry that takes place, as what we see at AGJobs!

    Oh, and in the works for the Q1 or Q2 of 2007 will be an A/G Alumni website! I’ve been working on the blueprints for the software for a few months and I think this one is going to rock!! It will be open to anybody that attended an A/G educational institute … though I’m still not sure how (or rather, ‘if’) I’ll have any way to enforce that…. until (or rather, ‘IF’) Springfield decides to open up an API to their AGPassports… It really is a shame they have not been willing to do so — the amount of additional security Springfield could be providing to their pastors and members who use the internet are uncomprehendable … if, that is … if they would just open up an API….

    Anyway, thanks again for the nice comments about my website! When I left “ministering in the church” about 6 years ago, I would never have thought the doors the Lord has opened up for me to minister to our pastors and churches that have opened up these last few years! Truly amazing, truly blessed, and very much look forward to what is still in the years ahead! (oh, just to clarify … I was never a licensed “A/G pastor” … I was a lay minister … just to clarify for those who are sticky about such things ;) however … I feel that nearly 15 years in the ministry does allow me to call myself a “minister” :-p )

    If anybody out there has any questions or just walk to talk … drop me an email at: jabela@gmail.com (gmail spam filter rocks!!!)

    Be blessed all.
    John B. Abela

  7. Rich Post author


    That blog from the barkeep attending Luther’s church sounds like a nice read!

    I don’t know, you may be right. But I’ve found some good pastors and theologians blogging from within our tradition. I’d name names, but that would honestly take too long, and I’d forget some good ones.

    But the comparison with Luther’s day, and today, obscures several facts. The world is so much more populous now, that a simple tract nailed to a door would have zero noticeable impact. Nobody would see it, and those who did probably wouldn’t be influential enough to matter. If Luther were to have his reformation today, I daresay he would be blogging.

    Plus, only churchmen were literate in that day, virtually anybody who read the 95 Theses would have been involved in church leadership and the news would have spread like wildfire. Today, my pre-schooler can read, and my wife too! While most people are functionally illiterate, the fact that so many can read at all means that if any written material is to have a cultural impact it has to be widely diseminated–much more so than a single tracked pegged to a wooden slab.

    Personally, if a barkeep has good theological insights, I’d read him.


    Thanks for your additional comments (I reposted them from the AOGDialog forum). I hope you got a wee little tiny spike in traffic from my humble blog!

    Keep up the great work.


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