Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sermon Website: Why?

Over the past couple of years we've been publishing our sermons online at St Elizabeth's. Recently I was talking to a colleague who was asking how it works, and what needs to be done to set up a sermons website. I've prepared a paper which I'll publish here tomorrow on the how, but I thought it would be useful to consider the 'why' question first of all.

Using Emerging Technology

In days gone by, some churches had a 'tape ministry.' The services were recorded on cassette tapes which were then made available for loan, or distributed around the housebound members of the congregation. Most churches with this sort of ministry have now moved on to CD ministry, with CDs (or even DVDs) replacing cassette tapes. the sermon website is the next logical step, using the technology of the internet and mp3 players to spread the word.

Ministry to Church Members

The ministry potential and benefits of a sermon website are huge. Sitting alongside the CD ministry, the sermon website can help the housebound still be part of the worshipping community, and being fed the same family meal that the congregation have heard on Sunday.

It can also serve as a catch-up service, so that if you're preaching through a series and someone is away on holiday or working, they can stream or download the sermon and not miss out through their absence. Similarly, if they heard the sermon but want to listen to it again to think about a particular point, it's available for them to return and listen again.

Perhaps at the end of a series, church members will want to listen to the whole series again over the course of a week, to get the big picture of the Bible book or section. It's easy to do this.

Listening can be done at a time and place that suits the church member. Whether it's in the car on the way to work; while jogging; while up with a baby at 3am; sermons are available at any time.

Minstry to the World

The internet is a public place, with opportunities to reach a wider audience, even more people than could fit into the church building on a Sunday morning.

There's a potential for those moving into the area to see and hear what a church is like, even before they come along on a Sunday, by sampling the recent teaching.

Many people are searching on the internet for good Bible teaching resources and sermons, with good levels of traffic for downloads of sermon mp3s. It's very random, but there's a good potential to reach people with the gospel in this way.

Missionaries and those travelling can still benefit from the Bible teaching at home, even when they're separated from their home church.

The possibilities are endless in the global village, and it's important for Christians to be out there on the internet, using it for good and the gospel. However, it's also important to urge that the sermon mp3 should not be the only form of teaching or fellowship an individual should be receiving. It is good to benefit from the Bible teaching made available on the internet, but it doesn't replace being involved in a local church fellowship and congregation. Internet sermons are a good supplemental to the diet of Bible teaching found in the local church, but a poor solitary diet.

Tomorrow we'll think about how to actually get on the internet with a sermon website.

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