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preaching article How to Increase the Shelf Life of Your Sermons

How to Increase the Shelf Life of Your Sermons

based on 7 ratings
Feb 27, 2012
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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?

SermonCentral is the world's leader in sermon resources and research. We are dedicated to equipping pastors worldwide in excellence in preaching.

Talk about it...

Chet Gladkowski avatar
Chet Gladkowski
0 days ago
A few other thoughts; 1-bundle sermons together into "themes" for distribution. 2-offer in multiple formats (video, audio, transcribe into text. 3-tie into small group content, topics and application.
Andrew Shields avatar
Andrew Shields
0 days ago
This was so busy patting itself on the back for being modern it forgot how sermons are really remembered. Through prayer that God will honor your work and the Holy Spirit will use you. Without any media at all, without the mega audience God uses servant preachers who honor Him and love their congregations. Pray that God uses you and that a miracle will happen that the Holy Spirit will use your words to help make an eternal change in the life of the listener.
Keith  B avatar
Keith B
0 days ago
What about the small church that doesn't have a full media team, podcasting, DVD's, etc?
Chet Gladkowski avatar
Chet Gladkowski
0 days ago
good question KB ? I believe we are called to get God's powerful word out to a dying culture that desperately needs to hear the good news of Jesus (Romans 10:14-15). There are easy to use tools that will allow you to achieve maximum exposure with minimum investment of time and money. I'd be more than happy to send you some help.
Michael Durst avatar
Michael Durst
0 days ago
@Andrew, Thanks for your perspective. I agree that God and the role of the Holy Spirit is what helps a sermon "stick". I believe the intent of this article is to simple address the person who missed last sunday, or who lives in another town but is interested to hear a specific preacher. I am benefiting greatly right now from a preacher in Seattle who posts video of his sermons while I live in Ohio. The internet is used for many sinful practices, as churches, lets do our best to use it for God! Blessings.
Robert Sickler avatar
Robert Sickler
0 days ago
You live in a world most of us have never seen. Your advice is good from a business perspective and big churches are big business. Where I come from the preacher prays for the Holy Spirit to empower the sermon so that it touches each person (who he personally knows) in a way they will remember and apply to their lives. I do believe, however, that your advice is sound where it can be applied. I know that the bible message never changes, but I also know we must stay current with modern methods of communication. I like your advice ...
Zachary Bartels avatar
Zachary Bartels
0 days ago
We view sermons as live multimedia events, full of videos, light shows, on-screen graphical packages ,etc? Umm, no. "We" don't. It sounds like you need to abandon the seeker-driven, ear-scratching nonsense of the megachurch movement. I wish I could unlearn the horrifying fact that some churches CHARGE people to download sermons... Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Dean Johnson avatar
Dean Johnson
0 days ago
Zachary, the point you rebuke in your argument didn't appear in the version I read. Did you have access to a different or longer version of the article? The author did say that some churches view the sermon only as a live event, and he encouraged us to make it available in other than live situations. Please have the integrity to respond to what the author actually said.
Drew Kizer avatar
Drew Kizer
0 days ago
"Teaching team?" "Shooting and editing the intro video skit?" "All of your campuses?" As some have already suggested, this article is really out of touch with where most preachers work these days. It would be nice if this website would address the life of the preacher who delivers four or five lessons a week, tends to countless pastoral concerns, and handles endless administrative duties with a part-time secretary and maybe a youth minister. Do guys like us even count?
Stephen Palm avatar
Stephen Palm
0 days ago
For 18 of my 23 years in ministry I served small churches. I understand the feeling of these resources being out of reach for many pastors. However, there are many free options that can be used by any church. For example, with the investment of $800 for a digital video camera, you can easily videotape your sermons. Then, you can create a You Tube channel for free and upload you sermons. (You may have to spend some time uploading other smaller files until you get the option of uploading large files) Once you can upload these larger files, you can then send out a link on Facebook and Twitter as well as embed the file on your website. If you're stumped as to how to do it, talk to your teens. They know! I currently teach a class with 45 people in attendance and 70 hits outside of the class. I am now getting emails with questions from people whom I've never seen in my Sunday Bible Classes. There are great possibilities for the pastor of the smaller church with a tight budget.
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Probably the most valuable suggestion, accessible to all churches of all sizes and locations, comes from 1 Corinthians 14: extend the conversation. But you don't have to develop curriculum or bundle it with anything, you just need to make it part of the rythm of life for your congregation. "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment..." (1Co 14:29). We open up Sunday and Wednesday evenings for continuing the discussion of the Sunday morning sermon, asking questions, pursuing further avenues of application, putting aspects of it to prayer, etc. It's quite fruitful.
Zachary Bartels avatar
Zachary Bartels
0 days ago
Dean, apparently I did. Or, rather, you were reading some highly-redacted version of this piece. What I addressed in my comment was the very premise of the article, acknowledged in the introduction. Your ad hominem about my "integrity" is silly at best.
Prescott Jay Erwin avatar
Prescott Jay Erwin
0 days ago
Dean, I'm not sure that you read the article Zachary and I did. He responded to two direct quotes: 1) "Churches think of sermons as live events, rather than study and spiritual growth tools." 2) "Make sermons free. Give away your sermon downloads. Some churches will charge for a download of a sermon..." Perhaps you should have the integrity to apologize? That being said, I do think that Zachary's point goes to far and presumes too much, asserting that the writer, and perhaps other responders, are caught up in a "seeker-driven, ear-scratching nonsense of the megachurch movement." We can't know their motives and as brothers in Christ we need to believe the best of each other as the Word calls us to in 1 Corinthinas 13. Roberts point seems most apt, though. Most of us don't minister in that world. The only REAL way to "increase the shelf life" of our sermons is to preach the timeless Word of God day-in and day-out, pray for the Holy Spirit to have His way the message, and get involved in the lives of our flocks.

So, what did you think?


Thank you.