Podcasting Church 101102

I’ve had an idea for a book in my head for a few years now. Since there is a challenge afoot, I’m starting today, November 2, 2010, to write that book. This blog will contain the very rough draft and I hope I’ll get a chunk of it out this month. No guarantee I’ll write everyday, but I hope this won’t be the last entry.

It’s May of 2005. I’m pretty unhappy with one fact in particular. One of my favorite shows is dead. The ScreenSavers has been replaced by something called Attack of the Show on G4TechTV. The show that used to have good help and how-to’s now has fun, but not nearly as education topics. I mentioned this to a friend who told me that the guys from the old TechTV had gotten together to start a podcast. I didn’t know what that meant, but I did know that I didn’t own an iPod, but that I wanted to hear tech news and tips, so I started to research.

Eventually, I found something with no name (because the Leo Laporte and his friends had been warned not to use their original idea “Revenge of the ScreenSavers”. In the following weeks, this show became TWIT (This Week in Tech).

At first the technology was hard to use. You had to download a special piece of software called a “podcatcher”. They were few in number and fewer on the Mac. About the time that I was going to give up, something unexpected happened. Apple released an update to iTunes that added podcasting.

Once I’d added a few podcasts, it became obvious that this was great medium. By it’s very nature, it was time shifted. The barrier to entry was low. It was portable. I loved it.

Having listened to quite a few podcasts, I started to think about creating one of my own. An interview on Podcast411 gave me two pieces I needed. First, I heard someone advise to podcast on your passion. Second, he said “just start. It doesn’t matter how good you are because you’ll be bad.”

In July 2005 I started “Tech, no Babel”. It started bad and it’s not great, but I hope that it helps people. How does talking about communication technologies help people? I think it’s obvious when you see it.

In 2000, my life changed when I realized that I was uniquely made especially to be someone who does technical things to help advance God’s plans. I used to feel broken, without a niche in life. Now I feel that there’s a specific plan for me, a plan that helps lives and eternities change, a plan that will happen when the time is just right. I pray that this book is part of that plan.

In early 2001, I saw it for the first time. Jim is his name. He credited a video I made with being something that helped him come to know Jesus. In 2007, my church started an online campus. It was something that we wouldn’t have been able to do except I’d heard on a podcast about a new service called Ustream.tv. A group of people who wouldn’t go to a church can go online and hear about the love of Jesus and that they can get a do-over, safe in the knowledge that they can’t make Him stop loving them with the mistakes they will make.

Tech is power. It enables us to do things that would have been magic or science fiction just a few years ago. I can make my own radio show in my sitting room off my bedroom in Nicholasville, KY. After some preparation, I can send that anywhere in the world, or rather people from all over the world can listen to it almost immediately.

For almost no money, someone can take a private passion and turn it into a message seen world wide. Time zones aren’t an obstacle. Your audience can listen whenever they want. This democratizes speech in a way that we have never before seen in human history. I can be heard by more people than a king or president just a few years ago.

Now the limitation isn’t getting it distributed. The internet has changed that. Now the limitation is standing out. Amongst the din of millions of voices, how will your message be heard? It might not, but what if it is? What if 1000 people listen to what you have to say? What if people from the other side of the earth pick up an idea and use it? It’s impossible to imagine what could happen.

This book is about my journey from confused seminary geek to Christian Technologist just as much as it’s about how your church can leverage the power of the internet as a tool for good.  The same technology that teaches terrorists to build bombs or shows teenage boys porn can be used to change a life.  I pray you’ll join me on this journey as I write both the how and the why.

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div.

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div. has been a tech volunteer with Lexington City Church (formerly Quest Community Church) in Lexington, KY since 2000 and is the founder of TrinityDigitalMedia.com, llc. He became part of the technology in ministry team when his church’s attendance was around 200 in one Sunday service and has witnessed it’s growth to a peak of 5,200 average weekly attendance in one Saturday service, four Sunday services in one online and two physical campuses. He literally wrote the book on podcasting in churches, twitter in churches, & servant-hearted volunteering, as well as writing various articles for publications like “Church Production” and “Technologies for Worship” magazines. He has thousands of members of his ProPresenter Users' Group on Facebook and thousands of subscribers to his YouTube channel.