Creating Sermons You Can Use for Micro-content
When it comes to creating inspirational and educational church content, the lion’s share of pastoral energy goes into sermons. It doesn’t take too many years of ministry before you’ve created hundreds of hours of teachings, illustrations, and devotional thoughts. It seems tragic not to get as much use out of those as you possibly can.
Churches are creating more content than ever before. On top of the in-person ministries that churches are responsible for (small groups, Sunday schools, and various classes), there are all sorts of digital ministry opportunities vying for attention (social media posts, podcasts, email newsletters, blogs, etc.).
Changing how you think about sermon prep
When it comes to using your sermons in multiple contexts, changing the way you think about preparing them will have the most significant impact. Instead of writing a sermon that you intend to go back to and mine for future content, it’s helpful to have those channels in mind as you get started.
Take an inventory
The first order of business is to take an inventory of all the places your church creates content. Start a document or spreadsheet where you can compile a list of the channels that require content. With each channel, include a brief description of the content it requires. For example:
- Small groups: Discussion questions about sermon topics
- Facebook posts: Updates about coming events, sermon video snippets, inspirational content
- Instagram: Inspirational quote images
- Blog: practical applications, brief devotional reflections, brief highlights of main points
Once you have in mind the kinds of content you’ll need later, you can keep that in mind as you work on sermon prep. This will help you craft content in a way that makes drawing from it much easier.
Putting your message together
Now that you have an idea of the kinds of content you need to create regularly, you can think about supplying these other channels as you go.
The process is relatively simple, but it will take some practice.
1. Create documents for each channel
The first order of business is to find a way to keep track of your future content. The simplest method is to keep track of each channel in separate documents. So if you use Google docs for sermon prep, create documents for each channel you have to populate. This allows you to quickly drop out of sermon prep and throw some notes or quotes you want to remember for future updates.
2. Think big picture
Now as you prepare your sermon, you can think about how the content can be used elsewhere. For instance, when you make an important point, you can consider questions that small group leaders can use to solicit essential conversations. And you can drop those questions into your small group document.
Other options might include:
- Creating presentation slides that are Instagram ready
- Identifying parts of the sermon you want to use snippets of for Facebook
- Remembering theological points that you want to elaborate on in a future blog post or podcast
- Pinpointing the best quotes to use on Twitter or for quote images on other platforms
Thinking bigger picture as you prepare a sermon takes some getting used to, and it might even make you feel like it costs you too much time. But it gets easier over time, and you’ll find it saves time when you go to create content later.
3. Solicit feedback
Just because you’ve written and preached your sermon doesn’t mean you’re done with it. Quality feedback can help shape future content. So don’t be afraid to ask people to send in questions and comments. You might have to wade through some unhelpful criticism, but the feedback you receive can be used as a jumping-off point for content on every platform—not to mention future sermons.
Learning to think differently
You can always go back to your sermons and strip and adapt the content for other platforms, but that takes more time. By thinking about your other channels as you prepare sermons, you can create messaging that’s more cohesive and doesn’t require poring over sermons later.
The digital age has improved churches’ ability to reach people beyond their congregations, but you need to feed all these platforms constantly. By simply changing how you think about the most demanding content you create, producing content gets easier across the board.
If you’re looking for more tips for your church social channels, check out our free ebook The Definitive Guide to Social Media in the Church. You’ll find plenty of information to help leverage social media platforms to better reach your church and community.