Series: How to Make Bible Study Podcasts
Make discussions easy to listen to
Bible study podcasts can make your message go further, improve biblical literacy, and encourage spiritual growth.
This article explores the challenges and benefits of producing a Bible study discussion for your podcast ministry.
When you’re ready to move beyond the lecture style Bible study to one that has more discussion, things get technically challenging—but certainly not impossible.
Before we get to the specific technical challenges, let’s look at some logistical considerations.
Closed groups and open groups
If you’re new to the term, closed groups are those where people meet to talk about a particular book of the Bible for a specified period of time.
For example if you were going to work your way through the book of Philippians you could set aside four to six weeks in which you spend one week on each chapter with an optional introduction and closing week.
Once the group starts studying no one else allowed to join in during the middle of that study because it would interrupt the flow of that particular group. And new people would be lost on the previous discussion. Closed groups are beneficial in that way.
By contrast, open groups like Sunday school are designed in such a way that new people can show up—even participate in the discussion—and not feel like they have missed that much. In a way each week is sort of a standalone lesson.
Of course, even in an open group, if it’s very important that someone know something from a lesson three weeks ago, then the teacher would make sure to talk about that.
Benefits of closed groups for podcasts
Closed groups work better for podcasts of a Bible study discussions because you can keep the entire set of studies to a limited number of episodes.
The people who are participating in the Bible study discussion won’t feel like they have just signed up for an indefinite on-going class that’s going to last a few years.
When they realize this particular series is going to last four episodes (or six or eight), they will be more willing to commit the time and effort to study and to make sure they are there for the recording.
One more consideration
How many people will be participating in the Bible study discussion? A discussion style podcast should have fewer participants than a discussion group that is not being recorded.
Too many voices on a podcast can be confusing to listeners. I recommend at least three and no more than five people participate in the Bible study discussion podcast.
Challenges for discussion podcasts
People need to know they’re being recorded
Every person who speaks during a Bible study podcast should be aware that they are being recorded and that the recording could be downloaded by anyone anywhere.
Not everyone will be comfortable with that idea, so make sure they understand what you’re doing.
For those who agree to be recorded, get that agreement in writing in case there are issues that come up later.
Even when people have signed a statement, agreeing that they know they’re being recorded, someone might say something during a Bible study that they later wish they hadn’t. They might ask you to edit that part out. You would have to decide whether to honor their request or not and explain why.
People need to be clearly heard
If someone speaks during the Bible study, the podcast listener needs to be able to clearly hear that person.
Even if the audience in the room can clearly hear, that’s not the audience you’re producing the podcast for.
The listener needs to hear the entire discussion without having to turn their volume up and down each time a different person speaks.
There are two basic options to get everyone recorded clearly.
- Microphones for everyone. If you have a very small Bible study, then this might be an option. You would also need a mixer or a device like the Zoom H6 in order to plug in all those microphones.
- One mic to record them all. You could try using a digital recorder’s built-in microphone. Set it up in the middle of your group. Test the audio to see if everyone’s voice is being picked up at basically the same levels. This option is not the best because the farther you are from the microphone, the more reverb you hear on the recording. But if it’s all you’ve got, you could try putting sound dampening material around you and sitting closer together.
There may be other options available to you. In fact, if you know of something that would work in this case, share your tips in the comments section.
Some things should not be recorded
Not every sound in the room should be recorded.
The more people involved in the discussion, the more noise will be made.
People cough. Papers shuffle. Phones buzz.
It’s much easier to ignore those things when you’re in the room. However, when you’re listening to all of that during a podcast, the extraneous sounds can be annoying.
When you remind everyone that you’re recording the Bible study podcast, ask them to triple-check their phones to make sure the ringer is off, the vibration is off, or the phone is completely off.
Also, as the recording is in progress, someone needs to be monitoring with headphones. That way if someone is tap, tap, tapping their pen on the table, you can let them know.
Remember, too, that you can edit some things out during post-production. If someone coughs really loudly, remove that to make the podcast version more listenable.
If you have any questions about setting up your own Bible study discussion podcast, ask me.
Have you already done this? If so, what did you learn from the process?
How to Make Bible Study Podcasts