Religious following for cyber sermons
Thursday, December 29, 2005; Posted: 2:54 p.m. EST (19:54 GMT)
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- Even the faithful miss church occasionally, but these days they do not have to miss the sermon -- they can download it to their play lists.
Cyber sermons are catching on with a religious audience who are on the run, torn between worship and work.
Evangelical Christian and software designer Craig Patchett, from San Diego, California, started "Godcasting" for digital disciples about a year ago when he set up The GodCast Network (TGN).
"There's a call out there to spread that information -- podcasting is one of the easiest ways to do it," he told CNN.
Podcasts are essentially talk radio for your digital audio player, available on the Web for download, and cover content from politics to comedy to children's stories.
Religion appears to be the fastest growing segment of the podcast community, and Patchett believes this is based on word of mouth.
"As Christians, we are called to take what we have -- the information we have about our religion -- and share it with others, so there's a call out there to spread that information. Podcasting is one of the easiest ways to do it," he said.
Patchett's pastor, Bob Botsford, says fears that technology may replace Sundays at church, miss the point.
"Jesus never said, 'Go unto the world and build big churches.' He just said, 'Go share the good news.' And this is just another way to do that."
Godcast listener Ian McCallum told CNN that listening to sermons on his MP3 player allowed him to stay in touch with his faith, even when he is on the road.
"I travel a lot and frequently have to leave on Sundays, and so I don't get to hear the sermon, to stay connected with the church."
A largely grassroots effort taking off in a short time, podcasting was an arcane term only last year, the domain of a few techies.
Now, companies like Yahoo! are trying to profit from the phenomenon with the development earlier this year of Yahoo! Podcasts.
"We're really excited about it and we think it's going to grow in all kinds of different ways, video all kinds of new devices a really bright future," Yahoo's! Joe Hayashi said.
Spiritual listings on the Web site Podcastalley.com have nearly tripled since July to about 500 cyber sermons.
Just about every faith is represented. Pope Benedict XVI began recording podcasts in August.
Now, terms like "Godcasting," "iGod," and "pod preachers" are circulating on the Internet, in a case of religion embracing technology -- that fits in a pocket.
n CNN's Maggie Lake contributed to this story