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Lane Coon Posts

Sermon Podcasting: Creating a podcast channel

I hope by now you are convinced, as I am, that churches should be sharing sermons thru podcasting. I also hope you see how easy it can be to get started. If you are serious about getting sermons out to be heard. A podcast channel is one of the best ways to share your content. The thing to do now is to submit your new Soundcloud RSS feed to iTunes. That way sermon content will show up every time you post a new audio sermon.

Creating a podcast channel

You will need accounts and be ready to log in to both.

  1. Apple ID – if you don’t have an Apple ID create one here.
  2. Soundcloud

Using your internet browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer) navigate to https://podcastsconnect.apple.com

Now using your Apple ID, log in to the account. When you have gone thru the login you will come to a screen that looks like this.

Open another window or tab in your internet browser. Navigate to Soundcloud and log in if you have not already. To get to your account information click on the button with three dots in the top right-hand corner. A drop down menu will appear. The option you are looking for is the “settings” menu option. Once you have chosen settings, then you will want to click on “content” in the middle of the window. This will reveal the information about your account. While you are there go ahead and fill in the information you would like associated with your podcast.

Submitting your Soundcloud RSS feed to iTunes

The next step is to copy the RSS feed link. Click on the box and the entire URL will be selected.

Copy and paste this RSS feed URL into the box on the apple website that is located on the left-hand side. Click the submit button located on the right-hand side.

Follow the prompts from Apple to add description and website information for your set up sermon podcast.

If your church set up a sermon podcast or already had a podcast channel? Share the link in the comment section.

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Sermon Podcasting: Step by step sermon podcasting

If you want to get your church set up with podcasting services? This will be a step by step guide you can follow to start the process of editing and posting the first service.

Sermon Podcasting: Step by step sermon podcasting

The first thing you need to do is head over to Soundcloud and set up a free account. There are limits on how much audio you can upload per month. The free version is more than enough for new churches. If you find you need more you can always upgrade the account.

The second thing you need is an audio file of a service. I won’t spend any time explaining how to record your service. There are way too many options for recording a service, and most churches have a way of capturing audio. If you are a new church with no sound system or recording equipment, use a smartphone. It will get the job done and do it quite well.

Once you have an audio file. You are going to want to make some edits. Edits include; Improving the audio. Trimming off extra portions of service you have no desire to post. Adding a bumper to the intro or outro of the clip. I am going to show how to use GarageBand because it is an app that comes with all Apple computers. If you are on a PC, downloading and using Audacity will work great. It is a free software with a ton of plugins.

Here is a great video by KingTutsPro for improving audio using audacity. I used this same process when I started.

Editing in GarageBand for Mac

Have your Soundcloud log in information close. After editing the audio you will log in to share the final clip from GarageBand direct to Soundcloud. Audacity users will most likely have to export to a file. Then upload that file to Soundcloud.

Open a new project in GarageBand. GarageBand will present you with several options. You will want to choose to start with an empty project. Choose microphone as the recording device. Creating a new track with no content in the timeline.

  • Find the audio file you want to edit. Click and drag the file into the new timeline. Garageband will start to process the audio, and soon it will appear in the timeline.
  • Once the audio is in the timeline you can start to make adjustments.

I like to make the audio quality the best I can. To do this I have found some of the built in plugins within GarageBand can work wonders.

  • In the panel on the left are options for instruments and vocals.
  • Click on voice, then choose natural voice.

    Choose mic options

Start editing the audio using the controls in the blue box at the bottom of the window. It may take some tweaking. A lot of fine tuning the audio is based on your own ear. Find what sounds pleasant to you. Two things you definitely want to adjust are ambience and reverb.

  • I turn both ambience and reverb down, cutting them in half.
  • I also add compression.

    Make adjustments using the controls.

The last thing I do before posting is trim the intro and outro.

  • Hover your mouse over either end of the clip. By clicking and sliding you can trim without having to make a cut. I cut all empty space at the beginning. I also cut before the altar service begins.
  • You can add bumpers to either or both the intro and outro. A bumper refers to the portion of recordings that say something like “Welcome to…” and “Thank you for listening, join us next time.”

Posting service to Soundcloud

Once you have finalized all the edits you want to make. To share or post the sermon to Soundcloud click on the share option located on the top menu. If you have not. Garageband will ask you to sign in to your Soundcloud account.

  • Choose to “bounce” the audio clip
  • Add title, name etc.
  • Be sure to check the “allow streaming” box. Failing to check will not allow people to listen to your service.
    Share to Soundcloud

    Add track information

Using an internet browser navigate to Soundcloud and see that your file shows up. If it is showing, or if it shows that it is being loaded. Success! You posted your first service to Soundcloud. Now to set up your podcast so you appear on iTunes.

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Sermon Podcasting: Are you missing a valuable and cheap opportunity?

What an opportunity! The technology of today offers us the ability to reach farther than previous generations. That reach also comes at a much more affordable cost too. Consider it this way. At one time to have any type of sermon broadcast. For example, we will say radio. I would need a station, professional grade sound gear, and skilled engineers to put programming together. The cost was steep. This is without considering the cost of buying actual airtime.

Sermon Podcasting: Are you missing a valuable and cheap opportunity?

Today anyone can have a program available to the entire connected world. All you need is a recording device, which you already have. A channel, which you can set up in minutes. Some content, which you only need to record, edit and post. Boom! The whole world can hear your message.

So why is it that I see many churches who do not podcast their church services?

Here are three reasons why many churches do not make their services available online

  1. Expect it to be costly. This is false, it is very cheap and very easy.
  2. Lack of knowledge. This is valid, but not a good reason.
  3. Last, some churches do not want to. If this is you? I disagree with you. But I do understand all the reasons why you would choose not to make your services available.

My story and how I started

My wife and I started Branches Church in 2015. From the beginning. I determined interested people would have an opportunity to experience a Branches’ service. They would get to experience what the preaching and teaching were like. I wanted to use video. But two things made me decide to put that off until we had become a more established church. First, it was an added burden to set up the video equipment and to manage the recording while ministering. Second, it was time-consuming for me to edit the service.

I decided the best option was to do an audio recording of service and set up a podcast channel. Never once have I regretted the decision. I am still surprised by how many people in our community listen to our services. Some people listen each week, and some of our saints go back to listen again to a message.

If you desire to get your recorded church service on a podcast or embedded on your website. I am going to share the easiest way I have found to get it done.

You can do it regardless of your church size and the equipment you have.

When Branches Church started we did not have a sound system or a digital recorder. I started recording our services using my iPhone on the podium with the mic unobstructed. Then I would use the built in memo recorder to record the teaching or preaching. It did great! Here is an example.

I would put that audio thru a free audio editor to clean it up and boost some levels. I then loaded the final product into Soundcloud. A free audio hosting platform that works well with all social media. It is also very easy to include a player on any website.

Other than an upgraded digital recorder. Today our church still uses the same process. It is efficient, cheap and connects you with people you may never reach.

Are you interested in starting?

The first step is to head over to Soundcloud and sign up for a free account. When you do, follow Branches Church and I will be sure our church gives your church a follow back. Then jump back here and check out Sermon Podcasting: Step by step.

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Turn second time guests into third timers

How we turn second-time guests into third-time guests

According to some church growth researchers if a guest comes 3 times a church has a 36–57% chance of retaining them. My personal goal for guests is to have them worship with us at least three times over a six week period. This gives us the best chance of developing a deep connection with the individual or family.

A lot of time and energy goes into keeping our church from becoming a one hit wonder. Instead, I want our church to become the worship service they have put on repeat.

I want to share with you how we plant a desire to return to church inside someone who has come for the second time. This can be a little more of a challenge since they have already experienced a worship service two times.

Our goal for a second-time guest is to deepen the relationship. We do this by sharing the benefits of being a part of the Branches family. Communicating a sense of “there’s more to this than what I saw on Sunday.” We use a similar approach as we used with a first-time guest.

Jon Tyson

Make an offer they can’t refuse

The most important thing I do with a second-time guest is offer lunch for the next Sunday. In conversation, I say something like this

“I am thrilled to see you back with us. Had I known you were coming I would have cleared my schedule so I could take you to lunch. Would it interest you us having lunch together next Sunday? Our family is buying.”

This offer may help someone on the fence about coming back again to decide it is worth one more service. I get rejected a time or two. Sometimes it is because of a schedule conflict. Sometimes it is because they don’t want to. In my experience, if they turn you down for free lunch with a strong no they weren’t on the fence about coming back. They’ve already decided they were not returning.

For you and your church, it may be a time of coffee with the pastor such as a friend of mine does following his service. Whatever you do, the message must be that a focus is on welcoming new people. Leverage whatever you offer to get them back for one more service.

The second most important thing is to communicate we are a church built on relationships and how they can connect deeper. For us, the deeper connections develop thru Life Groups and Branches Family Prayer. It may be different for your church. But the big point is to offer the opportunity of access.

The three emails we send are our attempt to show them the value of getting connected at Branches Church.

First Email

In this email, I write about Paul’s comparison of the church to our bodies in 1 Corinthians 12. We are here to connect with one another, grow together, and live God’s purpose in our lives. The message goes out the Sunday night after they attended for the second time. I invite them to connect with a Life Group in their area. The benefit is the ability to ask questions that cannot be asked during a Sunday worship service. To get the actual message we send sign up using the link below.(clickable link)

Second Email

In this message, we focus on the vision of Branches being a spiritual family. The benefit of membership is receiving Biblical direction, and overcoming the sense of loneliness in life. I use the postscript to promote Sundays service. This email goes out on the Wednesday following their second time with us in worship.

Third Email

I use this email to promote that Branches is a church dedicated to prayer. I ask them to join us at our Saturday night Branches Family prayer meeting. The benefit of joining is the opportunity to learn a model of prayer they can use every day in their life. I use the postscript to ask them to send me a pressing need that I can join with them in praying for God to meet. This email goes out on Saturday morning.

To get all three of the emails we send sign up using the link to join the email list.



Saturday Text

The text message we send is one encouraging them to join us for service in the morning.

Big Ideas

  • Promote deeper connection points
  • Make an offer they can’t refuse to get them to return
  • Use postscripts to increase interaction
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We Need Absolute Truth

We need absolute truth

I came across this illustration recently. It made me think about absolute truth in a world that lives according to relative truth. Maybe you want to throw it into your illustration notebook on Evernote for using later. If you have not read the posts about using Evernote for sermon preparation, check them out here.

Evernote for the preacher

Plato in The Republic, tells of a crew that came to the conclusion that their pilot was mad. He took observations of the stars. To them stargazing was foolish. They thought everyone knew that ships sail on the sea. The things that matter are the winds, tides, and currents. So they ignorantly confined the pilot to the hold. The result was a shipwreck. Sailors now know, they must depend for their direction on more fixed and certain matters than changing winds and tides.

We have never been without spiritual fixed stars to guide us. We have God Himself and His Word the Bible. Too many people look to what is changing in our world and base direction upon those changes. The result – shipwreck.

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One way to get first-time guests to return

One way to get first-time guests to return

If the church is to grow, we need to almost be an expert at getting people to return. The likelihood of a guest making a commitment to Branches in one service is next to nill. So the only option we have is to get them to return one more time. After that service, the goal becomes getting them to return again one more time. On and on this cycle goes until the “hook is set deep” to borrow a fishing term.

The last few years I have put time and effort into finding pieces that work in getting guests to return. We continue to refine the process of connecting with guests and will never stop working on it.

I want to share some simple things our church has found to work. I also want to make available the exact schedule we follow for communicating during the most important first week after a guest visit. It’s a downloadable PDF and includes the messages we send (clickable link).

If your church is not doing something to connect with guests beyond the Sunday they visit…You must start now! This is crucial!

“Have an easily accessible location where church and visitor information can be obtained.” Gary McIntosh

If you are going to connect with your guest beyond the Sunday worship service, there must be a way to collect information about them in place. The simple way to start collecting information is to immediately have an individual invite guest to fill out an information form. The person you ask to fill this role should be warm and be welcoming in personality, not pushy nor brusque. They are the first person starting the trust building process.

What information is most important?

Here are the items you want, numbered from most important to least important.

  1. Name
  2. Cell Phone Number
  3. Email
  4. Mailing Address
  5. Number of Family Members
  6. Age Grouping
  7. Interest in Bible Study, Life Group, Etc.

Include on this form a statement that informs them of the following: “We will not sell your information, nor spam you with constant messages.” I don’t know if this helps people feel better about sharing their information, but I do feel that it is a good practice.

I have their contact information now what should I do?

As stated before, the goal is simple. Get them to return for another worship service. We use a four-pronged approach when enticing a guest to return.

The four prongs are

  1. Email
  2. Text Messages
  3. Handwritten Card
  4. Phone Call

I put a limit on contacting people three times in a week. Example: They may receive an email, handwritten card, and text message, but not a phone call. Or they receive a phone call, email, and handwritten card, but no text message. Why have a four-pronged approach if you only use three at a time you might ask? Because every person does not respond the same to every type of connection. For example, a person in their thirties or twenties often times will respond right away to a text message but will ignore a phone call from a number they don’t recognize. A person in their sixties will likely respond better to a phone call. It depends on the person you are trying to connect with. The phone call is the one I use least. People in our community tend to be too busy for a phone conversation.

Email to me is one of the best ways to send messages to people. Here are my reasons: First, it is only intruding on their day if they allow it to. Second, you can automate email if you use an email marketing service (i.e. MailChimp). We send an email as soon as we can. The message is clear and simple – We were happy that you chose to worship with us.

The most important part of this email and every other email is the postscript. In this postscript, I ask them an open ended question. “What part of service moved you most? The worship, preaching, altar service? Hit reply and tell me, I want to know.” It is an invitation to open a deeper connection beyond the normal “thanks for coming, hope to see you again.”

The following Friday the guest receives a second email. This email is all about getting them back on Sunday. I remind them about last Sunday’s worship. That we were happy to have them worship with us. Then ask, would they join me again tomorrow? I include a schedule of the different elements (classes, worship, kids, etc.) of our service. Again the postscript is the most important part. You may wonder why I keep pointing that out. Email marketing research has shown that the postscript is one of the most read elements of an email. So it is some of the most valuable communication space. In this postscript, I write “I have a gift waiting for you, pick it up at our connect table. See you tomorrow!”.

This is a powerful postscript. If they were on the fence about coming back I may have given them a reason to return. In the second year of the church plant, we decided to leverage the gift we give to first time guests in a way that turned them into second time guests. I don’t regret the move at all. Gary McIntosh lists one of his rules in his book What Every Pastor Should Know as “Give higher priority to second-time guests than to first-timers, and to third-time guests than to second timers.”

Big Ideas

  • Collect information
  • Start communication ASAP
  • Postscript. postscript. postscript.
  • Ask for a response
  • Leverage your first-time guest gift to get them back

Here is the schedule I promised. If you don’t receive the email including a link, be sure to check the spam folder. This is the calendar we follow for communicating with guests including the messages we send.



In my next post, I will share what I have found to work at getting many second time guests to return a third time.

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Evernote for the Preacher 6 organize a series

Organize that series

Today I want to share with you another way that I keep all that I am doing with sermons organized in Evernote. When I teach or preach a series I create an index document that links to each lesson or sermon within the series. Evernote calls this note a table of contents. This one note is valuable when trying to organize a series of lessons or sermons.

For example, currently I am teaching a series on the fruit of the Spirit during our midweek life groups. There are twelve lessons in the series. I could number them 1–12 that way I would always know on which lesson to start with and on which one to end. But with time I would have a notebook full of numbered lessons 1–12. Which I do not like, but if you prefer to have a bunch of numbered lessons you can. This tip could work for any way that you prefer to title your sermons or lessons.

Using tags in Evernote. I create a nested tag structure like the structure used in Evernote for the Preacher 3 for illustrations. I use the series title as the tag for the series. For example, this series title is “after his kind”. The series tag is then nested under the “.sermonseries” tag. I can then pull up every series to view by series title by clicking on the nested tag “.sermonseries”.

Table of contents

To create an index of the lessons in a series, I use the “create table of contents” feature in Evernote. The feature creates a table of contents of the notes you have selected at the click of a button. This is very handy. Because the viewing window limits options for viewing notes to five options.

Order viewing options

  • most relevant
  • in order by created date
  • in order by updated date
  • alphabetical by title
  • by note size

You could look at them by created date. This would show us the oldest most recent note in order. Presumably in the order in which taught or preached. I found that this works as long as I have not deleted notes or introduced a new version. If this were the case, the dates would be correct but the lesson progression out of order.

Instead of viewing the order by date created I have started to create indexes or tables of content. This has been a great way to navigate to the right lesson or sermon in a series without risking getting out of order.

How to create a table of contents note

organize a series
Organize a series by creating a table of contents note

To create a table of contents note. Select as many notes as you would like to include in a series. Once you have selected them you can add tags to all the notes if you have not already. To make a table of contents note click the “create table of contents note” button. This will create the table of contents in the order you see them in the viewing window.

Steps to create a table of contents note

  1. Select notes
  2. Add tags .sermonseries and title
  3. Click “create table of contents note” button
  4. You have now indexed your series with links to each sermon or lesson

    table of contents organized series
    Organized series table of contents

Bonus

Another tip, if you use the app on a tablet to teach or preach from notes. When you go back to teach or preach a series that you already created a table of contents note. Create a shortcut to the table of contents note. This will make navigating to the sermon or lesson you are going to use in the series quick and easy.

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Evernote for the Preacher 5 four reasons why

Four reasons why I like Evernote for sermons?

Here are my top four reasons of why I use Evernote for sermon preparation, and keeping my sermons. Then I will give you the settings I use for preaching from Evernote.

1. 24/7 access to sermon notes

Evernote is built from the ground up specifically for notes. Are there any notes in the world that are better than sermon notes? None that I can think of. Not only does it handle these sermon notes perfectly, it also gives me access to every sermon I have ever added and anytime that I want it. Why have every sermon on my computer or in a filing cabinet when I can have them in my pocket. It makes me think of one of the first ever preaching pro tips given out. Be instant in season and out. That was Paul to Timothy.

2. Offline notebooks

This is rare but it has happened. Not having internet access could be a barrier, but with Evernote it’s not. Because you can set a notebook to be available offline. So my sermon notebooks and a few others that I have chosen are always synced up. This is valuable for me because in a week I will preach minimum one sermon, teach several life groups who are usually on different lessons, and teach various bible studies. I have all of that material at my fingertip. All I need to do is open Evernote.

3. Search

I wrote a lot about this in a previous post. So I won’t labor over it. Search is one of the most used features for me. I have yet to find myself looking for something in Evernote and not be able to find it. There was one thing I couldn’t find, but it turned out I had never put it into Evernote to begin with.

4. Collaboration

I feel that a sermon is improved thru collaboration. If someone suggests a tweak, better illustration, or even a really good point that resonates with me. I will add it! I am the proud thief of many a sermon thought. Collaboration within Evernote is so easy. You can send messages inside Evernote with a link to the note. Also, you can share the note, and give editing privileges. A person can even share the whole sermon notebook. I see this ability to collaborate in Evernote as having great future potential. Potential that I have just begun to scratch the surface of. Just this week a friend shared a great sermon he preached about having a right attitude, the illustration is great and I can see using it a few times.

There are many more reasons that I choose to preach and teach sermons directly from Evernote. But I wanted to give you just a couple of reasons why you should give it a test run. I also said I would give you how I set up my sermon note for preaching.

The Settings I use

Font – Helvetica
Font size – 24px (looks best to me on my tablet)

Sermon note on my iPad

If you hate scrolling and prefer to swipe through pages you can load your sermon note as a PDF file. It will give you that swipe you like, and the note is still searchable within Evernote.

Someone asked how I manage sermons from the past years. I created a stack that I named “sermons by year”. When the year ends I create a notebook for that year. Then move all of the notes in my “@sermons” notebook to the new notebook.

Got a question about my use of Evernote? Email me or comment below.

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Evernote for the Preacher 4 Using Search

Using Search to find resources

Evernote’s search capabilities continue to put me in a state of awe. There is a small learning curve. However, taking time to learn search will help us to rev up the productivity of using Evernote for sermon preparation. As a result once the fundamentals are learned there is little chance a person should spend unwanted time searching for a note lost in their account.

The search bar is located at the top right corner of the Evernote app on a computer. On an iOS device it is located on the bottom option bar. You can do a general search using terms in the note you are searching for or you can use operators to narrow the search results. At the end of this post are the operators I use most often. To see a complete list of search operators that Evernote uses check out this help article on their website here.

Search at the top right corner of the computer app

You can also go deeper using the developers search grammar article here, be warned this will be overwhelming information if you have not already become familiar with search.

Searching notebooks

The following is how to find a note in one of the notebooks that we created.

notebook:quotes – will return all notes in the quotes notebook.

This is helpful in narrowing the focus of a search to a specific notebook as a result the search query returns notes in that notebook. But if we just wanted to look thru all the notes in that specific notebook we could just as easily navigate to the notebook itself. So we can narrow the focus by adding a specific tag that we want to search within. Write your search like this.

notebook:quotes tag:/prodigal – will return all notes in quotes notebook tagged /prodigal.

Search operators

This is an excellent way to search for quotes that would apply to the topic of prodigals. A search must have only one notebook operator, which needs to be first in the search query. But a search can have multiple tag operators. Which comes in handy if you have a topic you are preaching on that could have many illustrations or quotes that would apply.

Turning “and” into “or” searches

By default the Evernote search query will be an “and” search. For example if we were to search using the terms “prodigal going home” the results will give us notes that include all of those terms. This way of searching can sometimes cause an issue. What if the note we are looking for is missing one of those terms? The note we want may not show in the results. We can get the results we want by using the “any” operator. Write the search like this.

any: prodigal going home – this will return notes that contain any of those terms.

This will widen the search net a bit. But it could save some time searching for a note if you are not positive which words are used in the note.

Popular search operators I use often

  1. notebook:
  2. tag:
  3. -tag: to exclude a tag
  4. any:
  5. inTitle:

There are many search operators that can be used, and I do suggest taking a look at them on either of those articles I linked to above.

Search Tricks

If you find yourself doing a search often. It could be a time saver to save a part of the search parameters. An asterisk acts as a wildcard when placed at the end of an unfinished word.

get* – would return any word that has get as the first three letters like gets, getting, etc.

In the next post I am going to tell you some reasons in greater detail of why I like Evernote for my sermon preparation and for keeping my sermons in.

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Harvest It Has Always Been His Idea

The Harvest

I have been thinking about the subject of the harvest a lot today. The harvest has always been God’s idea. He created it. His word speaks often of the harvest.

There is a harvest in my city among the people. I want to see it. To feel the handful of grain sliding thru my fingers.

While I pray, fast, and work to see it. It can be easy to forget that He desires to see the harvest more than I ever could.

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