Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Gospel: not for sale


[sydneyanglicans.net] 30 Dec 2008-- recently attended a one-day conference for people in full-time (vocational) Christian ministry. During the conference it was advertised that the talks would be available for purchase as an audio and video package—$45 conference special ($55 post-conference). I sent an email to the people producing the talks, asking if I could just buy a single talk in MP3 format, instead of all the talks and videos on DVD. I received this response:

“We don’t split packages or sell individual speakers because it’s just a logistical nightmare for us. We used to do it 20-30 years ago, but it was all too hard - takes too much labour, staff and administration time.”

This response confused me. Every week at my church we record the sermons by the preacher. The software we use is free. After the sermon we chop off any extra that has been recorded, and upload the sermon to the church website. From the time the service is finished, to the time the sermon is available on the church website you would barely have enough time to go to the bathroom. The only costs incurred by the church are those to maintain the web server and uploads/downloads (approximately $50 per month).

So why was I getting charged twice—once to attend the conference, and a second time to hear the talks that I had already paid to hear?

Should we charge a fee for people to access sermons or conference messages? Let’s take a look at three models of distributing sermons that I’ve encountered.

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