Does your parish website serve as a news bulletin board or staff directory? Or is it a means for people to deepen their faith? Many tech-savvy pastors are harnessing online tools for communication and evangelization. One easy way is to use the content you’re already creating each week — the Sunday homily. Online homilies can be helpful in plenty of ways. Traveling parishioners can stay connected with your parish. New visitors or church “shoppers” have another way to ease into your parish identity. Parishioners can easily share the weekly message with friends, family, or long-lost acquaintances viewing their Facebook feed. Whatever your level of technological ability, there are plenty of ways to bring your preaching ministry online.
Third party platforms like SoundCloud make it easy to get your audio files out to the world. Their free version gives you basic user statistics and options for embedding your sound files elsewhere (see below for more information on that). It also gives you up to three hours of upload time each month. So as long as you keep your homilies to sitcom length or less, you should be all set! Here and here are examples of priests using SoundCloud for their homilies.
Podcasts are wildly popular and easy to access for anyone with an iPhone or an Android phone with the proper apps. Parishioners or other listeners can subscribe to your podcast with alerts for new uploads. Once you have the MP3 file for the audio, it doesn’t hurt to share it in multiple places to increase access! Here’s an example of a priest who does just that.
Embed Audio Files on Your Parish Website
“Hey,” you might be thinking. “Why do we want to send our parishioners somewhere else?” While you can embed SoundCloud files on your site, you don’t need to use a third party platform for parishioners to enjoy the audio. However, uploading the audio files directly to your site takes up more space and could slow your site down. But whether you want to simply rotate out the latest week’s homily on the homepage or have an archive of homilies like this priest, this priest, or this Cardinal, your homilies can live on your parish website.
Everyone goes “off script” sometimes! If you’d prefer not to share an audio file of your homily, sharing the transcript as a blog is an option. Setting up a free blog on a platform like WordPress is fairly easy. Other web builder sites like Weebly, Squarespace, and Wix also have dedicated blog pages. Here’s a simple sample. You can link to the pastor’s blog on your parish website or embed an RSS feed to give parishioners easier access. You could also combine the text of the blog with the audio file, like this priest does.
If there’s a special event — say a feast day or sacrament — you may want to film your homily and post it online. Here are some examples. Make sure you have a staff member or reliable volunteer who can edit and convert the files properly. YouTube is the simplest place to upload your videos, which can then be shared by parishioners or embedded on your parish website. Here’s an example of using the video technique for recorded homilies, but in a way that functions like a slideshow, featuring a static image of a work of art.
Social media has always been great for sound bites. Select the best line or two from the homily and send it out on the parish Twitter account. Have you filmed the homily? Have your tech person select a quick 60 second segment — the climactic moment that pulls the most punch — and upload it to Facebook or Instagram. These snippets can intrigue parishioners and visitors alike, providing another entry point to your church and the life of discipleship.
The internet is an excellent tool to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. While it may require some extra know-how or a dedicated volunteer, getting your homilies online is possible! You’re already creating the content. Now is the time to maximize to draw people into deeper discipleship.