All my friends who work with bands or in churches with live audio will appreciate this. Check out the GaffGun. It tapes down audio, video, and electrical cords in seconds. Gaffing tape is durable and it doesn’t leave a residue, so it works great to tape down cords. I can think of a lot of times where this would have worked great. It’s not cheap, but it is worth it if you do this often. Check out the video below and then head over to their website to find out more.
Each year, WorshipHouseMedia has a special giveaway leading up to Christmas. I forgot to remind everyone to check out their website this year. They have videos and mini-movies for churches, and this Christmas giveaway is a great way to stock up on some great videos for your church. You have one week left, so be sure to visit their website each day.
I’ve helped several churches start recording the audio from their sermons to include on their website. The goal in each case is to get a quality recording that can easily be listened to online or downloaded through a podcast. Way back in 2007, I wrote a tutorial on how to setup a podcast. Although some of the info is a little dated, the basic procedure remains the same. I wanted to go back and share a few more details about how you get a quality recording that you can use for your website. This isn’t a detailed step-by-step tutorial, but it should get you pointed in the right direction. Here are a few options.
Option 1: Record audio on a CD
Our church has a rack-mounted CD burner (Click here for a comparable version of the Tascam recorder we have). We run one of our auxiliary sends from the soundboard to the CD-burner so we can mix it differently from the main speaker mix (we also record the music each week). Since we have a digital sound board (a Presonus StudioLive) we actually connect the soundboard to the recorder using a digital S/PDIF cable. This gives us great sound quality with no audio interference or hum.
Option 2: Record directly to a computer
Another option is to run a cable from your soundboard directly to a microphone or line-in jack on a desktop or laptop computer to record. Then using recording software such as the free program Audacity, you can record the message directly to a .wav file. After you finish recording, you can export the song as a mp3 file.
Option 3: Record using a handheld recorder
A final option is to use a handheld recorder like the Zoom H1 to record the message. You can record in several different ways. You can just start recording before the service and set it on the preacher’s podium and it will pick up great. The sound quality is amazing on this thing, and it is very small and inconspicuous. A second way is to hook a lapel mic to the handheld recorder and use the microphone to pick up the sound. The final way to record is directly from the sound board. It features a line-in jack so that you can run a cable straight from the sound board and record directly to the handheld recorder.
Importing/Exporting the Audio mp3 File
Once you have a recording, you will need to get it into a format for use on your website. I still recommend using mp3 files, so they are most compatible and work across the biggest range of devices.
Getting a mp3 file from a CD
I typically use iTunes to do this. I insert the CD into my computer and load up the iTunes program. If the CD contains multiple tracks, I use the Join Tracks command.
Select the CD in iTunes
Sort on Track #
Select the consecutive songs you want to join
From the CD menu, select Join CD tracks
Enter in the artist name and album name
You can also set your beginning and end points of each track to trim your sermon from the CD. Once I do this, I click on the tracks I want to import and then I choose import CD. From the menu, I then choose custom settings for importing the file as a mp3. Click on the mp3 encoder, then custom. I choose 64 kbps and mono (which means the resulting audio mp3 file will actually be a 32 kbps file) After I import the file, you skip straight to uploading it to your website, or you can touch up the audio using the instructions below.
Importing a mp3 file from a handheld recorder or computer
This is the easy part. You should already have a .wav file or a .mp3 file. So you will just need to export it into a format that can be uploaded to your website. I recommend using the free program Audacity which is available on both Windows and Mac. Import your audio file into Audacity, and then you can touch up the audio a little before you upload to your website.
trim the beginning and ending of the message
If you have a stereo recording, go ahead and convert it to mono. For speech, stereo is not needed and will just add to the file size. In Audacity, go to Tracks —-> “Stereo Track to Mono” to do this
Normalize the Volume – go to effects/Normalize to raise the sound where it needs to be. If you have a lot of hum in your recording this can make it worse. In that case, you can play around with the Noise Removal effect in Audacity
Compress the audio using the Effects/Compressor option. Compression makes the soft parts louder, and the loud parts softer so that the volume level is more constant. If you are not familiar with compression, then you may want to read up on it, because this can really make a sermon easier to listen to.
Export the audio as a mp3 file. Go to file/export and then choose mp3. You may have to do some setup work to get this to work, but Audacity will show you how to add the mp3 encoder. I have experimented and I like exporting sermon audio at 32 kbps in mono. This gives a small file size, and it still sounds good. If you go higher, the audio will sound better, but it will be at the expense of a larger file size which will take longer to upload and download.
Again, this is definitely not a comprehensive tutorial, but I wanted to get you pointed in the right direction. If you have any suggestions to add, feel free to leave a comment.
I shared last month about the Shift Media Creator App. It’s a great way to create graphics for your church. I wanted to share with you another video showing you practical ways you can use it to create announcement graphics for your church with your phone. Just snap a picture, add effects and filters, save it, and you have a great image. You can then use an app like Phonto to add text to the image. There are also other apps like Snapseed that enable you to do great effects on your photos.
It’s amazing what you can do just with your phone. You don’t have to have a big budget to create great graphics. Let’s all agree that clipart should never be used on your website or screen. Check this out, it’s really a great example of what you can accomplish.
I'm thrilled to let you know that our friends and partners, Lightstock.com, are giving away 10 free credits to everyone who signs up using, the link below. If you haven’t already heard about Lightstock, they’re the ones who are putting an end to cheesy Christian stock photography.
If you check out most church bulletins and most church websites, you will find plenty of cheesy photos and clipart. Lightstock is a great resource for your church for cheesy-free photos and videos. I really like the quality on their site. They are one of my partners here on my blog and I wanted to share more about their site. Keep reading to find out how you can receive 10 free credits.
Have a design project around the corner? Let me share 5 quick reasons to say ‘NO’ to cheesy photos.
1. Say no to photos that are void of creativity.
The definition of creative is: relating to or involving the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work. Unleashing the imagination to create something original is what I’m talking about. If you’re not engaging your imagination in a deep and meaningful way then don’t even bother.
2. Say no to photos that look touristy.
Composition is key. Composition means the art of putting things together. Think of yourself as a Culinary artist bringing unique ingredients together to serve up a delicious meal. Your ingredients include the subject, negative space, lighting, focal
length, etc. The quickest way to break the back of crummy-composition is to get on the ground with your camera and start start shooting. Unique vantage points always help eliminate the cheese.
3. Say no to photos that look like they were taken in the 80s.
Avoid hyper trends and fashions in your photography. Especially a really dated wardrobe from your subjects. And if you’re going to shoot something out of Biblical times, make sure the costuming actually matches the time period. You need heavy wools that are ragged and torn. Not just a white table cloth and a piece of twine. Pay attention to wardrobe.
4. Say no to photos that mix lighting.
Don’t mix! When it comes to photography there are two basic types of light: natural light (sunlight) and artificial light (flashes/studio lights). Make sure that if you’re inside you turn the lights off and take the shot next to some big windows. Or if you want artificial lights then black out the windows. This will give you a consistent look. And lastly and most important…
5. Say no to photos that show little thoughtfulness or care.
Simply put, they’re lazy. They don’t take into consideration the intelligence of the audience. Jony Ive, creative mastermind at Apple, described this principle when talking about the Apple products he designs. “We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects”, says Ive. “It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care — just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made.” Thoughtfulness and care take time and energy. When you sit down to shoot or design, think about your end-user. How does your creation add value to their life?
Free Stuff Alert: Here’s 10 Free Credits to Lightstock
I’m thrilled to let you know that our friends and partners, Lightstock.com, are giving away 10 free credits to everyone who signs up using, the link below. If you haven’t already heard about Lightstock, they’re the ones who are putting an end to cheesy Christian stock photography.
Use the discount code faithengineer for 25% off! Click here to purchase
As a former youth pastor, I remember years ago trying to lead worship with my Spin360 accompaniment tracks and an acoustic guitar (I’m showing my age here!). Since we didn’t have a full band, I would play the CD and just play along with the music. So when I found about Worship Pad Loops from Shalon Palmer, I was interested in trying them out.
Worship Pad Loops are pre-recorded keyboard tracks that you can play along with. There are versions for each different song key. They provide a full sound that you can incorporate into your band if you don’t have a keyboard, or just play along with on your guitar. They also work great as transitions between songs during worship. They can even be used as background tracks for videos.
I tried these out one day with one of our musicians who was recording several songs and the loops sounded great. We decided not to use them for the project he was working on, but I do think we will use these in the future. They can be used with songs of any tempo, and since they are based on the root of the key you are playing in, you can play them throughout the entire song. You can include these on a computer or an iPod since each loop is a 20 minute mp3 song. As with most products, the best way to understand this is to watch a video of it being used.
These work great for most songs, but remember if there is a key change or if the bridge gets a little crazy, they may sound out of place. I am interested in using them during times of reflection and prayer during special services at our church. The sound is just right to provide some ambiance without being distracting. The set is $29.99 for all 12 mp3 files for each key. And if you use the code faithengineer, you will receive 25% off.
The Worship Pad Loops plays a mixture of professional studio recorded ambient pad sounds and guitar swells that remain in harmony or on the root of the key you are in.
One of the favorite uses of the Pad Loops is for songwriting. For 2 big reasons. One is that playing the loop in the key you’re writing in gives you a constant reference that you can sing along with, without having to be playing an instrument. Two is that these pad loops are so spectacularly awesome at creating ambience, that you’ll be in meditation mode creating a musical masterpiece in seconds.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of these loops to try out and review. I provide honest reviews and only recommend products that I believe in and use. See my full disclosure policy here.
I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 19 years, and we have three awesome kids, Emma, Luke, and Drew.