Podcasting Church 101204

I’ve had an idea for a book in my head for a few years now. Since there is was a challenge afoot, I started, 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.

This is the end…
Nothing except God’s love lasts forever. Whether it’s after 5 episodes, 5 years or whatever, your podcast will eventually end. How you end it might cause your audience to wonder if you are gone, if you’ll be back or what’s happened to you.

In podcasting, since there’s no network to deal with, no advertising department, no producer or talent other than the few (and often one) person that works on the show, the word that the show is over doesn’t filter out as easily as it does in tv. It’s easy for a podcast’s creators to quit making a show, decide not to make it and leave the audience clueless that it’s gone. When a show disappears without warning it’s called “podfading”. Deciding it’s time to stop is one of the causes, but certainly not the only cause. It seems much more likely that people plan to continue the show, but life gets in the way. My podcast podfaded for this very reason. I loved it and wanted to continue, but I saw it getting in the way of time with my family and time serving at church. So, while I kept meaning to continue, I didn’t.

The best thing about podfading is that shows that suffer this fate can come back. The downside is that you’ve lost some of the trust of your audience. This happened to me with a network show a few years ago. It was just starting to get good when it disappeared. It turns out that the title character was having a baby, but it just wasn’t clear in the schedule that the network wanted it back. When it came back, I was reluctant to get my hopes up and start liking the characters again.

If your show podfades, there are normally some warning signs that you can see ahead of when you no longer make it. First, you start feeling like you don’t have as much material as you once did. This is particularly true of shows that are more timeless. How many 15 minute shows can a person do on the subject of church tech without other contributors and a cohost? You can go for a while, but not forever.

You’ll also find the gap between shows increasing. As you start out, you never miss recording on Tuesday nights. Later on that shifts to some Tuesdays with occasional Thursdays. Later it’s twice a month, then every few months and so on.

You try and change up the format or how and when you record to make it better. Somehow, this improves things either temporarily or not at all. Quickly you’re tempted to do all the shows with an apology at the beginning, promising to record more, but you don’t.

Podfading isn’t the only thing that happens, though. Sometimes a show goes on hiatus. If it’s planned and you keep to your word, an annual summer break or Christmas vacation isn’t a bad thing at all. It can help you come back refreshed. Just be upfront with the audience and give them a date to look forward to. Your true fans will wait and anticipate your return.

It’s okay if a podcast must end, though. Celebrate the past. Give a behind the scenes look at highlights and say goodbye. “Geeks and God” did this. The hosts felt like they’d said what needed to be said and that God was calling them into other directions.

If the show is good, sometimes someone will take over a show that’s ended or on hiatus. That happened to me when I was led to not do my show for a while. Phil (who I talked about earlier as one of my biggest fans) took over for a while. For “Geeks and God”, a whole community sprang up to take over where the hosts had been.

Sometimes the end isn’t the end, but a new beginning.

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.