Writing a sermon is an arduous journey.
On average, pastors spend 9.5 hours every week writing their sermon for the upcoming Sunday. That is more time than they spend eating during the week.
The average pastors spends over 400 hours a year in sermon preparation.
With most pastors preaching more than forty times per year, writing a sermon is a rinse and repeat cycle. In fact, 36% of pastors say they begin writing their sermons Monday morning. No time to rest. Sunday is coming!
All of this work, week-after-week, begs the question, ”What happens to all of that preparation and content after the sermon has been preached?” Where does it go? Is that it? Will any of this content ever be used again?
The pulpit is a distribution channel. A physical exchange of content and attention from the stage to the audience. The pulpit isn’t the only distribution channel available to pastors. There are more opportunities to leverage all of this hard work to reach more people with the story of Jesus. Every pastor has a physical pulpit. And every pastor has a digital pulpit as well. Are you leveraging all of the prep time you spend for the physical, and duplicating into the digital as well?
I have created a list of seven ways you can take your sermon content and transfer it to your digital pulpit.
1. Blog your points, one at a time.
Blogging your entire sermon might be overkill, but blogging each point would be a great way to keep the sermon in front of your congregation and digital community. If you had three points in your message, you should be able to get three solid blog posts from the content. You can write out each blog based on your notes or you can use a transcription service. There are several services out there, but my favorite is Rev.com. Simply upload an audio recording of your sermon to their website, and a real human will transcribe your entire message.
2. Use quotes, points, and verses as social media posts.
This is probably the easiest thing to do on this list. You could have a staff member take notes and write down memorable quotes, points, and scriptures or you could use the transcript sent to you from the suggestion in my first point. From there, you can have virtually anyone use a service like Canva (free) to create images to be posted on your various social media accounts. I recommend Unsplash if you are looking for general free images and Lightstock if you want excellent, faith based images.
3. Use video highlights from your message.
This is a bit more labor intensive, but the payoff can be huge. There is a very large cowboy church in our area that is doing a marvelous job at taking short clips from the sermon and posting on their Facebook page. They spend a few dollars on boosting the post and have seen great results.
4. Create a podcast.
This might be the most common way churches use the sermon beyond the physical pulpit, and for good reason. Audio is making a huge comeback as of late. Amazon, Google, and now Apple have all invested millions of dollars into creating audio experience products like Alexa, Homepod, and Google Home. I heard a prediction this week that the next generation will not text or email, they will send voice message using products like the ones I just mentioned. This is a great opportunity to offer your full sermons or edited highlights like you would for a video.
5. Turn it into a small group study.
Small group questions are easy. Take the truths and points made in your sermon and reverse engineer them into questions. What questions are you answering with sermon? What tension are you addressing? Let these questions play out in your small groups so people can unpack what they heard from the pulpit.
6. Create devotional series from your sermons (ebook)
This is my favorite way to preach digitally. Let’s say you just completed a five week sermon series on prayer. You could take the notes and/or transcripts of your sermons and create devotional content. For example, you could create Five Devotions on Prayer and make it a free download on your church website in exchange for a person’s email address. Now you know who that visitor is, and you know they want to learn more about prayer.
7. Write a Book
This would be the largest expense of all the items, but the upside is usually greater. Let’s say you’ve preached a series on grace once a year for the past three years. You have a mountain of content on the subject. You can take that content and begin writing a book or you could partner with a book publishing service like Sermon to Book or Lucid Books. Both groups partner with pastors and have done some really great work. The reward for writing a book is the trust earned from the reader in an accelerated time frame. In a book, you can share parts of your story and the church’s story. They will read how God’s grace has been on full display in your own life and how His grace is for them as well. After they read the book, they will feel like they know your heart as a pastor much better. They may see this by only attending on Sunday mornings, but it may take years to come to fruition.
These are just a few ways pastors can leverage their content from the physical pulpit into the digital realm so many more people may be impacted by the message of Jesus. Preparing a sermon is so much work. Let’s continue to leverage that work beyond when message is preached from the pulpit. Let’s continue the conversation in various digital channels.
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