It’s important to record sermons. I find sermon recordings especially exciting when I’m listening to a great preacher like A.W. Tozer, years after he has gone to be with the Lord. I get to step back in time and listen to a great man of God share a relevant message for that day, yet it continues to be relevant to me today. If the Lord has truly given a message to a speaker, it’s of utmost importance to record it for reference later and share with others. To have a recording of teaching and preaching is a great tool to have in discharging the commands of the great commission.
We asked our Facebook user group about how they recorded their sermon audio. Most of the responses indicated that they used the aux out on their soundboard to send the audio to their recording device. Some are recording to a hardware recorder like a Roland SD-2U, Marantz PDM580, CD recording deck, or directly to flash drive from the mixer. Yet others are using a computer with software like Audacity, Adobe Audition or Logic Pro or stripping the audio out of their video recording. All of these are valid ways to record sermon audio. They are all a first step in getting the sermon ready for distribution. However, in most cases, more steps are involved, especially when it comes to editing the audio for CD/MP3 or Internet distribution. Even when you get a good recording from the soundboard, you’ll most likely have to do some editing on the audio to make it sound better to the listener. It’s a good idea to find an easy to use audio editor app to make tweaks to the recording. I personally have used Audacity for many years, but there are others out there that you might like better. The idea with the post edit is to make sure the recording is loud enough, ambient noise, like AC units are minimized, and content that is only for the live audience is removed. I personally always took out the worship because we didn’t have a different mix for the recording, and the house mix was not palatable for the listener. I also use noise reduction, compressor and amplification as needed. One last tip for a better listening experience. Make sure you have at least one ambient mic set up. This will help the listener feel like they are in the room with you. Now that we have editing done, we’ve got to distribute the recording.
There are several instances where you might want to distribute sermons to the local congregation or even potential attendees around the church location. You may have shut-ins, a sermon series, or just want to include a sermon in the welcome bag you hand out to visitors. In the past, cassette tapes have been the primary way of distributing your sermons locally, but CDs have now replaced them. However, CD technology is starting to become less commonly used than it was just five years ago. It’s good to consider your options and the amount of investment that is required for local distribution.
There is something to be said for the simplicity of recording directly to CD and making copies of the CD for parishioners. This is a great solution if the master disk will be copied directly to other CDs without editing. If the recording will be edited, it will have to be ripped and then edited as an mp3. Buying bulk disks and cases will also be a requirement. If printing labels on the disks is important, a CD printer will be required, along with refills of Ink/Ribbon. An investment in a disk duplicator system may be required for batches of 20 or more. CDs also have an 80 minute limit.
An alternate idea for distribution of recordings for the local congregation is mp3 players. Multiple sermons can be loaded on an mp3 player and distributed to shut-ins or members that are not able to make every service. This will require an investment in cheap mp3 players and manpower to load and reload the players.
Many churches have almost completely stopped making CDs of their services. It’s much like when cassette tapes became much less ubiquitous. Most new cars don’t have CD or cassette tape players and many church members don’t have them in their homes either. They may rely solely on a phone, TV or other device that streams content from the internet. When distributing content, we want to use the most common method. It used to be radio and TV. Now it’s the internet. Fortunately there are many services out there that can help get sermon audio on the internet. Soundcloud, Lifestream.tv and sermon.net are great places to check out. Personally, I’ve worked primarily with sermon.net for sermon audio distribution. With this service, I can upload a sermon to one place, then they take care of distribution to the rest of the world. My church can reach not only the local members of the congregation, but the church around the world. With a Google Play podcast account, and iTunes account, sermon.net distributes my sermons to Google play, iTunes, their roku channel and rss feed. A sermon player page is also set up at sermon.net for my organization. We have our own WordPress website with a sermon’s section, so we link to the sermons on sermon.net from there. Google Play, iTunes and the rss feed allows listeners to subscribe to our channel for a more consistent supply of content. Internet distribution gives a small congregation a huge reach. A service like this gives the flexibility to distribute sermons to the local congregation, shut-ins, visitors and the church around the world.
Whether distributing CDs, MP3 players or internet content, the Lord has a message for the world to hear. Use the abilities God has given you to share the gospel of Christ with the world and watch what happens.