Topic: Please help us get $750,000

Folks, I am new to your forum and serve as the chief development officer at a seminary looking for expertise.  I was referred to Godbit by someone at a company that creates web sites for churches.

Here's our situation.  We are the successor of interest to a defunct organization in an estate that is in probate court, with a hearing on Tuesday to decide the distribtion of the estate.  (By the way, no Christians are being sued; no one loses money if we win our claim.)

Long and short is this:  I need to help our lawyers show that pastors use the web to distribute their sermons, in much the same way that some pastors used radio or TV thirty or more years ago.

Do you know of any research that shows the percentage of American churches that use the web to distribute sermons (podcasting, MP3s, etc.), or use it to stream their services?

THANK YOU for any help you can give me.

Last edited by hfreeman17 (2007-01-12 13:52:48)

Re: Please help us get $750,000

Don't know of any hard facts and figures, but there are plenty of churches that do podcasts. Take a look in the iTunes podcast directory for a good listing -- there are certainly many other churches that do podcasts that aren't listed. Obviously you can't make a comparison to the number of churches in the US versus how many do podcasts... not all churches have a website, not all churches have even a decent website, and not all churches are equipped or knowledgeable enough to even know how to distribute their sermons online.

Ninjas and pirates both agree: cowboys suck.

Re: Please help us get $750,000

Mr. Freeman,

I read your posting on Godbit recently and there are a few things I can point you toward.  I am the Internet Communications Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection - One of The largest Mainline churches in the country with approximately 15,000 members.  We video stream our sermons and they are consumed literally around the world.  Our website has been visited by people in more than 132 countries including countries like Egypt, China, the Sudan, and other closed countries.   Our most popular pages by far, are our worship/sermons pages that provide the streaming links.  We podcast our sermons as well and we transfer more that 60 GB of data per month that is streaming content.  We regularly hear about people using our streamed content in Sunday school, small group, and other settings.   While I cannot speak directly to churches in general, our church has made a serious commitment to digital sermon delivery. 

One of the most authoritative research based sites is the Pew Internet and the American Life Project.  One of their reports indicates that 77% of churches post sermons on line - and though it doesn’t differentiate between multimedia and text based posting it does indicate that digital delivery of sermons online is ubiquitous. Here are several links.  The first is to the overall pew/internet research site.  Then there is a report on Religion online, and one on podcasting in general.  There are hundreds of other reports that could be pertinent to building your case. 

www.pewinternet.org
http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/194/report_display.asp
http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/28/report_display.asp
http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/126/report_display.asp
http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Religion_Report.pdf

I would also recommend speaking with Mark Stephenson with the web empowered church www.webempoweredchurch.org Mark is the leader of a foundation funded (With heavy backing) project to build an open source church website management tool.  One of their major projects right now is a multimedia sermon management system which is nearing completion.  They are doing this because it is one of the most often requested features.  Mark may have additional information that will help.  I think his email address is mark(at)webempoweredchurch.org .

Other churches of interest include www.lifechurch.tv a very large multi-campus church in Oklahoma that has as one of its campus - an internet campus - complete with an internet pastor.  I am realizing as I write this that I could go on for hours about all of the Podcasts that are out there like the NT Wright podcast, etc.  There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that digital delivery has become the primary means of sermon consumption in the United States. 

Here are some other links
http://www.godcast1000.com/
http://www.sermonsonline.com/
http://www.sermonaudio.com/main.asp
http://www.sermonindex.net/

I wish I could come up with more, let me know if I can be of any other assistance.  I’m interested to hear what your seeking to do as well if that is possible.  By the way, I went to Asbury Theological Seminary. 

Chuck Russell
Internet Communications Director
The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection
www.cor.org

Re: Please help us get $750,000

I do not know of any specific research, but we know that many churches post sermons online and there are far more sermons online than ever make it to TV or radio. The main reason is that web is much easier and much less costly. Here is a specific example of one church: Ginghamsburg Church at http://Ginghamsburg.org has posted sermons in several formats (text, audio, and video) since 1997. Sermons are also available via podcast. Podcast is a hot buzz word now days, but in our experience, most sermons are delivered via web pages. Also, in our experience, a text transcription is the preferred format over video and audio. We estimate that over twice as many people experience sermons online versus hearing the sermons inside the church. We see visits from about 50 different countries each month, and the primary draw is always sermons.

In Christ,
Mark Stephenson
Author of Web-Empower Your Church
http://WebEmpoweredChurch.com