At least once a week, every church produces valuable content in the form of the pastor's sermon to the congregation. A lot of work, wisdom, experience, and knowledge gets poured into creating a message that is intended to honor God and build up the church.
Unfortunately, for many churches, that valuable content is only available to those sitting in the pews at that moment. Sure, many churches record sermons and make them available on cassette or CD, but, as you know, this creates logistics and accessibility challenges for your staff and your members. Some churches have gone to the expense of broadcasting sermons on the radio or TV, which is great, but is still limited to a particular audience at a particular timeslot.
A relatively small number of churches have figured out how to make sermons available on their website. These churches have been able to realize a number of benefits. Existing members can relisten to a sermon they have heard but want to better grasp, can listen to the parts they missed when they arrived late or stepped out to the nursery, or can hear entire sermons they missed when out of town. Folks moving to the area can check out sermons from your church to see if there's a fit in the most important area of teaching before investing a day at a church. And folks in any far corner of the world can even benefit from how God would use your church's teaching in their lives.
The reason that only a relatively small number of churches have taken this step is because it is hard - it is especially hard to do it well. Updating content every week can be time consuming if it involves editing a number of different HTML files on the church website. Manually organizing sermons so that folks can find what they're looking for takes patience, wisdom, and persistence - all wonderful virtues - but wouldn't it be better to be able to invest them elsewhere?
Living Stones recognizes the valuable potential of adding sermons to your website, but we also recognize the challenges. We have developed free software to make it as easy as possible to add sermons to your website and to make it as easy as possible for folks to find the sermons they are looking for. Our software also automatically creates an RSS newsfeed for those members of your congregation who are really into doing things like reading weblogs (blogs) and use a newsreader to keep up with their latest sources of information. And, if you're going to be uploading audio files of your sermons, our software automatically creates a Podcast so that folks can automatically download your sermons to their iPod or other digital audio player.
The software is available for download by clicking here. To install the software, follow the simple instructions included in the Zip download file or also available here. This software does require the User Management software also freely available from Living Stones. If you have installed Living Stones' Bible software, it will also be integrated with the Sermon software.
Using the software is fairly straightforward. There are two main administration components. One allows you to provide basic information about the different pastors whose sermons will be on your website. The other allows you to add and manage your sermons. Throughout the week, information about the sermon can be added through Living Stones, allowing you to just upload any last minute files (e.g. the sermon audio) and hit the "Publish" button to make the sermon available to the world. Information you can provide for each sermon includes the pastor who preached it, the date it was preached, a brief synopsis, the sermon series it was a part of, any topics it should be associated with, the sermon Bible text that goes with it, and any attachments (audio files, text files, PDF files, video files, pictures, presentation files, etc.)
For those coming to your site, the software includes several web pages to make it easy for them to find what they're looking for, including:
- Sermons listed by date
- Sermons listed by pastor
- Sermons listed by sermon series
- Sermons listed by topic
- Sermons listed by Bible text
- Search sermons
When they see a list of sermons, they will see the title, the date it was preached, by whom, a brief synopsis, and will be able to click to get any attached files.
To see the software in action, check out Oak Hills Presbyterian Church's website.