In preparation for a fast that my church is having as we look toward Thanksgiving, I decided that I would subscribe to podcasts from pastors across the country who I’ve been interested in hearing. I subscribed to podcasts from Andy Stanley’s Buckhead Church in Atlanta, Georgia; Francis Chan’s Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California; and Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hills in Seattle, Washington. In addition to those sermon podcasts that I subscribed, I already subscribed to John Piper’s Desiring God (Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota) podcast, James McDonald’s Walk in the Word (Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois) and Shaun King’s Courageous Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Of all of those podcasts that I have accumulated only one of them is from a black man. And though he is black, it pretty much stops there because his church couldn’t be categorized as a black church per se. The oldest preacher in my sermon podcast bunch is John Piper. So it’s not an age thing, but there is a lack of diversity on the sermon podcast scene. I looked up some of the more popular black mega-churches like TD Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas; Bishop Charles Blake of West Angeles in Los Angeles, California; Bishop Noel Jones of City of Refuge in Gardena, California; Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth in Atlanta, Georgia and Lee P. Washington of Reid Temple and in Glenn Dale, Maryland and there was not a podcast to be found. This is by no means a comprehensive search, but these are some of the biggest names in Christianity in the black community. From all of this I wondered, “Why don’t more black churches, especially the megachurches, offer podcasts too?” Is it too untraditional, are their communications ministry not up to date with this technology or is it an issue of money since many of these podcasts are free?
It may be dangerous for me to ask this question, especially throwing in the last part about the money. But I can’t act like that wouldn’t be taken into consideration knowing that most of the ministries that do offer podcasts do so free of charge. So maybe the black churches feel the congregants would stop paying for the sermon CD. But, in my belief, the benefit of offering podcasts far outweighs the cost.
Charging people to buy a preached word creates a barrier for entry to those who many not be able to afford but really want it. Although I will also acknowledge that only offering podcast and not CDs for sale also create a barrier of entry for those who still on the other side of the digital divide. But the number of people running around with iPods and access to iTunes is through the roof nowadays, so that shouldn’t be a concern either.
But what if this is an issue of our generation and not of previous generations? I understand if podcasts and iTunes seem to new-fangled for the black church which is usually rather traditional even in the midst of it being very modern. But, even still, you have to keep up with the generation you are trying to reach out to. You must reach outside of the church to get the people who are outside of it. It’s not for the benefit of the people in the church, it’s for the people outside.
So I don’t want this to stretch on for too long, but I am curious to know why more black churches aren’t utilizing podcasts. More and more people are reaching out to technology to reach out to God. And those of us in the church need to remember that in order to reach the world outside, sometimes we need to get their attention with the things they focus their attention on. So, this is me, just wondering…