Ministers spread their messages over Web

Local ministers are working to find new ways to spread their message not only within their local community, but the global community provided by the World Wide Web.

“We have to take the words and put it out for as many people as possible,” Chip Lee, minister at St. John’s and St. Matthew’s Episcopal churches in Deer Park and Oakland, said. “This is one more way in which to spread the good news.”

Lee, who had a background in marketing and broadcast before becoming a minister at three Garrett County churches, including the log church on state Route 135 in Altamont, helped to guide his churches into the age of the Internet, and now reaches more than 15,000 people with the church’s podcasts, weekly broadcasts done available for download on iTunes.

He said that it took some persuasion to convince the churches that this was a natural step toward a more technological age, but also a way to draw new members into the church, even if they technically didn’t set foot in any of the three. However, much of the technology necessary, he said, was awarded through various grants within the diocese.

“Churches have recognized that they should have a good Web site because it’s good at attracting new families to the area,” Lee said. “The Internet has become almost a staple of daily life.”

He still emphasizes the biggest way for a church to get members remains the traditional method of invitation by friends or family, but since the podcasts have begun, he has gotten e-mail from people all over the world, including soldiers in Iraq and people living in Europe.

He added that the Web site currently has live feeds of the churches services as well as streaming audio from each service.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

6 comments on “Ministers spread their messages over Web

  1. Nick Knisely says:

    I was at a conference recently when a dinner conversation turned to evangelism. All of the clergy around the table “testified” that most if not all of our visitors were having their initial contact with our congregations via our webpages.

    The more I listened the more I realized that there’s every good reason as part of evangelism work that we should recognize maintaining an up-to-date parish website as an important ministry – and that pretty much every clergy needs to have at least a working understanding of how to do that.

    We all learned how to “do” newsletters when they were our primary means of communication, I think learning to “do” websites is part of the same. Here in Arizona we’re planning on having classes this fall for the clergy of the diocese to do just that. (We’re planning on using some computer labs to do the teaching.)

    I’m wondering if there’s anyone else providing similar training?

  2. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    If you think about it the unchurched, unevangelised or partly evangelised can explore a site and its messages in a quiet unthreatening way and learn something of both Christianity and the Church both of which are foreign territory for so many nowadays.

    Not just parish notices and pictures of the parish picnic but the place to explain our faith and what we do. Hopefully this will encourage a visit through the church doors where we have to be ready and waiting to welcome and befriend.

    Wonderful – the way of the future, right now.

  3. flaanglican says:

    You are right that this is wonderful news. I must question “grants within the diocese,” however. It hardly costs anything to provide sermon audios. I would point out that the only costs involved are what is put into the sound system to get the original recording (also used to project through the church’s loudspeakers) and the fees to the Internet Service Provider providing web space.
    In my church’s case, everything after that is done free:
    * iTunes (used to convert CD tracks to .mp3)
    * An “FTP” Program used to upload both the .mp3 and a Podcast “xml” file.
    * iTunes “store” for creating free iTunes Podcasts.
    *Wireless connectivity is free depending on the establishment, or in my case, I “piggy-back” on my neighbor’s, at his permission, of course.
    There are sure to be additional fees for live feeds for services in their entirety, of course. I can imagine the logistics of setting up cameras and so forth. But we have decided not to do that. While that’s cool technology, the point of services is for participants to be an active part of liturgical worship, not just listen to it.
    We do upload each week’s sermon and any other teachings, of interest, however. We even received an email from a Ugandan who said our recorded volume was too low when listening on his iPod. We went back to our sound system, and sure enough, it was too low–so we up the recorded volume directly at the source!

  4. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #3. Thanks for this information but I wondered if files converted to MP3 through iTunes could still be played on other media. Bit of a geek question I know but very interested in low cost options.

  5. flaanglican says:

    Sure. I have my default in Internet Explorer set to Windows Media Player and the .mp3 plays just fine. The differences come down to the properties displayed. For example, iTunes will display artwork but Media Player may not.

    One recommendation, though. I reduce the “kbps” to 40kbps because, after all, a sermon is just monotone of someone speaking. No need to have a high quality stereo version taking up server space. At 40 kbps, sermons that are approx 15-20 minutes are about 5-6 MB.

    Here are the steps:
    1. Click “Edit”
    2. Click “Preferences.”
    3. Click on the Advanced Tab.
    4. Click on the Importing Tab.
    5. Next to setting, choose “Custom” in the drop-down menu.
    6. Next to Stereo bit rate, choose “40 kpbs” or whatever other setting you want.
    7. Click “Ok” twice.
    8. When you “Convert selection to .mp3” it will be done at this new rate. Remember to set it back if you want to convert a high quality CD track (usually 160 kbps)!

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    flaanglican – Many thanks.