Your teaching team may spend many hours and countless meetings creating all of the elements surrounding your sermon message.
It may include a series video intro, print graphics, on-screen visual package, coordinated backgrounds for worship music slides, shooting and editing the intro skit video, and even a physical set design. That’s on top of the research and study to prepare the message itself!
Once the sermon has been delivered at all of your services and all of your campuses, what happens to it?
If you’re like most churches, the sermon probably spends seven days on the “last week’s sermon” box on your Web site and hopefully shows up in your podcast for a few weeks. Then it begins to die a slow death, slipping gradually into the annals of other great sermons that time forgot.
Why Sermons Get Lost and Forgotten
Here are some reasons why sermons typically carry a very short shelf life:
- Churches think of sermons as live events, rather than study and spiritual growth tools.
- Most church Web sites post sermons based on chronology, so the oldest ones get lost.
- Podcast feeds typically deliver only the most recent “episodes.”
- Many people only get sermons via podcast and may never visit the Web site itself.
- Many churches still offer sermons only via tape or CD, which are becoming increasingly irrelevant in an MP3 world.
- Sermons are for Sunday. There is rarely a connection to any other activity or curriculum being shared in other corners of the church (children, youth, small groups, etc.).
5 Ideas to Get More Value from Your Sermon Archives
With a few tweaks to your strategy, though, sermons can become a useful resource for years to come.
1. Make sermons available on your Web site.
If you’re not offering sermons via Web delivery, do it! If you are lacking equipment or manpower, consider a pocket digital voice recorder like this.
2. Make sermons free.
Give away your sermon downloads. Some churches will charge for a download of a sermon, while attending their church on Sunday is free of charge. We wrote more extensively about this on our blog.
3. Promote the popular messages.
Publish a “most viewed” sermon list each month or each quarter. This implies that you have tools allowing you to measure these stats (which, by the way, are a very valuable thing to have as a feedback mechanism for your teaching team).
4. Offer tools to filter results.
Allow searching/browsing by Scripture, topic, speaker, or title (not just by date).
5. Extend the conversation.
Develop curricula for your small groups to discuss the deeper points of a sermon. Consider packaging these with DVDs of your sermons so that if a group isn’t ready to tackle a series now, they can obtain it from the church later.
There are plenty of additional ways to add value to your sermons! How do you extend their shelf life?