Bible with Microphone on top of it. Title says "4 options for a Stand Alone Sermon Library"
Image by Arthur Miranda

You might be in the lookout for a stand alone sermon library website. You might be on a Website builder like Squarespace or Wix, and you might not be happy with their Podcast browser & player.  Or, you might not have the space to host all your sermons. What I’ll be covering is some options for finding the right sermon library for your church.

I’m going to show you 4 options that you could use at your church as a Stand Alone Sermon Library. Later, I’ll look at Sermon Plug ins for WordPress sites.

Sermon Library Criteria

I will be comparing the 5 solutions on 4 criteria. (Mobile users, just scroll side to side)

Upload/Admin experience

In this section, I’m asking how would someone who is uploading the sermon would use the software. How easy is it to upload a sermon for the Sound guy at our services? This is important as we want to have a simple solution as this will be done by different people each week.

Visitor Experience

In this section, I’m considering how the visitor experience will be to look for sermons and our sermon library.

Integration to website

In this section, I’m considering how easy it would be to integrate this solution on to our new site. I am particularly taking note in the following areas around responsive design, integrating one sermon to a series. Widgets etc.

Cost

Here I will give my thoughts on cost. In this case, I will only consider this compared to other contenders.

Buzzsprout Website Screenshot

Option 1 – Buzz Sprout

Website: https://www.buzzsprout.com/, https://www.buzzsprout.com/learn/church-podcasting
Cost: Free for 2 Hours per month (but only recent sermons), $12 USD for 3 hrs a month (if over, $4 extra per hour), $16 USD for 6 hrs a month (if over, $3 extra per hour), or $24 USD for 12 hrs a month (if over, $2 extra per hour)
Description: Buzz Sprout is a podcasting platform for users to upload audio to in the form of a podcast feed. We can also get an analytical reports. Although a podcasting platform, it has been used by some churches and Christian organisations.
Live Example: ChurchMag – http://churchm.ag/podcast/

Upload/Admin experience

The person uploading this will need to upload the file through the Buzz Sprout account, add the genre (Audio, Religion & Spirituality), then add tags and a description.

Integration to website

They make a point that it is easy to integrate and share your podcasts, and it appears that they have a WordPress plugin or at least some embed code.

Visitor Experience

The visitor experience is Good.  The embedded code is easy to use on mobile and on desktop, as it used HTML 5 integration. However, you loose searching on Books of the bible, and limited to the sermon series for that week. You can’t do advanced searches compared to other solutions.

Cost 

$12USD per month for 3 hours is competitive, but it really depends on how many different sermons are being uploaded per week. For our church, we weren’t sure if it will be a good option, given that we upload an English & Korean service each week, which in a month, would be somewhere between 3-5 hours of sermons per month.

Resonate screenshot

Option 2 – Resonate

Website: http://www.resonate.org.au/
Cost: $15-35 AUD per month, pending on the size of your church.
Description: Resonate Australia is an online sermon library aimed at helping churches to get their sermons online and promote them. The website is a centralised library of Australian sermons drawn from many churches. One thing you may need to keep in mind is that joining this service, you’ll be also be signing up to the Resonate community of churches and would be agreeing to the Resonate statement of faith.
Live Example: St James’ Old Cathedral, Melbourne West & Docklands – https://www.sjoc.org.au/sermons

Upload/Admin experience

I haven’t seen this side of the site, so I can’t comment on this at this stage.

Integration to website

Integration can be done, and it looks to be just a WordPress (?) plugin to the site. It is limited to the way that it is presented itself on the website, and I’m not too sure how customisable it can be. It is responsive, and does use HTML 5 methods of delivering audio files.

Another thing is that Resonate have their own Mobile Apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store, so that is worth checking out.

Visitor Experience

The visitor experience is Good.  The site is well designed, and the integration is very seamless. You can do an advanced search of your library, and you can have different logos for your different services. However, when clicking on a tag, it send you to all the sermons in the Resonate network that have that tag. That being said, it does allow for a mobile app and podcasting functionalities.

Cost

It is on the expensive side at $35 AUD per month, but I think it is worth it if you have a wide library of sermons.

Option 3 – sermon.net

Website: http://sermon.net/
Cost: based upon how many GBs you are hosting. Up to 2GB is free, then around $1USD per GB per month (min $15USD).
Description: sermon.net is a non-profit organisation from the USA for churches to easily get their sermons online in Audio, Video and Text (PDF) formats. You can have sermons sitting on your site, and available on the sermon.net App, as well as in podcasting formats. We are also joining in a worldwide community of churches, who…also use sermon.net.
Live Example: Oatley Anglican Church – https://www.oac.com.au/talks

Upload/Admin experience

Uploading involves logging into the Admin page of sermon.net,  uploading the file, adding details on the sermon, then saving it. This is very easy, but it appears that there is only 1 user on the environment.

Integration to website

Integration is easy, but very limited in its design.  sermon.net recommends a link to their Media Centre, which is the Visitor UI.  You can also embed the media centre as an iframe which can be made responsive. It also appears that you can embed certain sermons and playlists.

Visitor Experience

The Media Centre switches between a Flash and HTML 5 player, pending if you have Flash installed or not.  I’m not a fan of the full video player for all types of media, as I think it’s too big for mobile devices. On Desktop, you can search on different sermon series and the like.

Cost

The pricing is competitive, and worth the at least $15USD per month.  You will need to consider that as your sermon library increases however, the cost will go up over time.

Option 4 – Soundcloud

Website: https://soundcloud.com 
Cost: Pro Unlimited is $145 AUD per year, or $16 AUD/month.
Description: SoundCloud is a global online audio distribution platform based in Berlin, Germany that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds. Although artists use Soundcloud to promote their tracks, podcasters and churches do use it to distribute podcasts and sermons. SoundCloud is currently going through a bit of a difficult time at the moment financially, so this is something that you’ll need to keep in mind.
Live Example: Hunter Bible Church, Newcastle – http://www.hunterbiblechurch.org/recent-sermons-and-talks/

Screenshot of Hunter Bible Church

Upload/Admin experience

The person uploading this will need to upload the file through the Soundcloud account, add the genre (Audio, Religion & Spirituality), then add tags and a description. They would then need to add this to a playlist, and make sure that a few options are selected, and upload an square image.

Integration to website

Integration is easy, as we only need to copy and paste the embed code. That being said, when a new sermon series starts, we would need to create a new playlist, and embed an new playlist on site. It is Mobile friendly.

Visitor Experience

The visitor experience is Good.  The embedded code is easy to use on mobile and on desktop, as it used HTML 5 integration. However, you loose searching on Books of the bible, and limited to the sermon series for that week. You can’t do advanced searches compared to other solutions.

Cost

$16 AUD per month is cheaper than some of the other solutions that have been looked at, but is more limited for what we are trying to do.

In Summary…

So here’s some options for you to check out as you decide what your Sermon Library will look like. We ultimatly decided to use a WordPress site with a sermon library plugin, and I’ll look at these plugins next time. But it was a good chance to look at these different options first.

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By day, I work in Technical Support, but at night, I write on a mishmash of things. But mostly on #churchwebsites.