The typical online sermon probably isn’t effective outreach, but if you pursue the outreach aspect, you can get the attention of those outside the church.
Consider crafting outreach-friendly sermon introductions to go along with each sermon posting. Even those who have never set foot in a church understand that clicking “play” on a sermon’s “listen now” or “watch now” link is going to take up a good-sized chunk of time. Write a sentence or two that explains how the sermon is relevant to people’s lives. What will they learn? Why should they hear this particular sermon? What’s in it for them? Put this introduction between the title and the play button. Use the introduction to bridge the mental gap between reading the title and deciding to click “play.”
The sermon may have been delivered in one piece. But online, this doesn’t have to be the case. A sermon can be broken up into key points, which are presented together, but separately. Breaking up a sermon can be done by splitting the audio into the sermon’s key points, giving each an outreach-friendly title. It can also mean turning the key points of a sermon into an easy-to-digest post on the website. It can mean re-delivering parts of the sermon to specifically speak to those outside the church. Where the in-church sermon made certain assumptions about the hearer, an online, outreach-friendly version could speak directly to those not yet familiar with the Gospel message. The original sermon can still be presented intact somewhere on the website, too.
Key Points First
Consider extracting the key points from the sermons and presenting them separately for those who want to see what they’re getting into before they click “play.” One approach—simply outline the sermon. Take those big key points and let people see them. The core of the sermon is how God’s word applies to the hearer. It’s not the clever build-up. It’s not how you introduce it. It’s what gets taught. Present that to people and then let them decide whether to click “play.”
Social Media Sharing
Take your key points and create short, highly engaging posts on social media (for example, Facebook). Instead of relying on people outside your church to stumble across your website, put the message into a channel where it can spread naturally. Social media, through its web of interconnectedness, can help get your message in front of people without them having to first come to the church’s website.
Invitation for More
The teaching in a sermon doesn’t end when the sermon or the service is over. People outside the church may be left with questions or wanting to know more. Try including additional information, perhaps via a “learn more…” link. Maybe there’s another sermon you can direct them to. There may be a web posting or an online resource somewhere that would be worth checking out. You could invite the hearer to ask questions or provide them an easy way to get in touch with the pastor or someone who can help them explore what it means for their life.