Over the last few months, it would be tough to count the number of pastors, ministry, and nonprofit leaders who have told me they’re going to launch a podcast. That’s exciting to hear, but in most cases, they assume that because podcasting has become so popular, theirs will be popular as well. I understand the hope, but while the NFL is popular, I’m probably not going to walk-on with the Los Angeles Rams.
Especially if you’re a pastor or ministry leader, I encourage you to explore the possibility of launching a podcast. However, remember there are millions of podcasts out there – the vast majority of which aren’t successful at all. So if you’re a church or ministry leader and considering it, here are a handful of reasons why launching a new podcast may not be a wise choice:
1) When you’re simply re-purposing your Sunday sermons. I don’t mind you getting your messages out there on as many platforms as possible, but don’t think your sermons will be a runaway hit as a podcast. That’s not to say some people won’t enjoy them, but the most popular podcasts are usually original, and aren’t just re-hashed from other content.
2) When you don’t have something unique to say. Are you just another voice on topics thousands of others are already podcasting on, or are you bringing an original subject or perspective? There are thousands of “leadership” podcasts for instance, but for yours to break through, it needs to bring something to the table few others are discussing.
3) When everything else has failed. If you’ve launched a YouTube Channel, website, social media platforms, or videos, but are still not getting any traction, chances are, a podcast will just join the parade of what hasn’t worked. Ultimately, while platforms matter, it’s the content that matters more, and if your ideas failed on one platform, they probably won’t miraculously succeed on another. See #2 above.
4) When you’re expecting a mass audience. Start with mastering a niche. With my podcast for instance, I don’t expect a big audience because I’m trying not just to reach leaders, but creative leaders engaging in media. That’s a pretty narrow sliver. In that light, I’m not looking for a big audience as much as the right audience.
I had Carey Nieuwhof, bestselling author of At Your Best: How to Get Time, Energy, & Priorities Working In Your Favor on my podcast recently, and since he has one of the most popular leadership podcasts, I asked for his advice:
A podcast is really about serving your audience. To upload content is one thing, to genuinely connect with people and make a difference in their lives is another.
There are over 2 million podcasts available in 2021 (not episodes, but podcasts). Which is understandable, because the cost of starting one is next to nothing. But what most people don’t realize is that 1% of podcasts receive 99% of the downloads. The difference? The best podcasts connect with listeners. That takes thought, experimentation, knowing your audience, and a commitment to producing content that connects with the heart, mind and soul of the people you’re serving.
Thinking that you’ll be successful simply by launching a podcast is like believing you’ll be successful simply by starting a church or launching a business. As you know, most churches and businesses go under in the first five years. The same dynamic happens with podcasting, but faster. Unlike a church or business, you won’t need to shut your podcast down if it fails…you’ll just end up talking to no one.
Pastors and church leaders are all unique and have different gifts, and their self-awareness of that should be a part of any decision to start something like a podcast. Not everyone is gifted to do that and even if they are it doesn’t mean it will be adopted/followed/effective.
A phrase we have used for years internally is to reach people no one else is reaching, we will have to do things no one else is doing.
To have the capacity to do things no one else is doing, we can’t also do the same things everyone else does.
Brilliant thoughts from two guys I greatly admire. The bottom line is that before we join the parade on anything, it’s always good to pause and reflect on our unique gifts, talents, and abilities. What are the best platforms to use based on your strengths and the preferences of your audience?
If it’s a podcast, then great. By all means run with it. But if not, then let’s re-focus to find the ultimate platform for sharing the message God has uniquely given you.
Because it’s no fun sharing a message when no one is listening…