I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with a church that uses WordPress as their CMS of choice and loves it.  Having worked in church tech for several years, I saw this so many times.  It’s a great platform with a low barrier of entry and great resources for those without massive marketing budgets.

But something that I also saw repeatedly was that churches would buy a theme, get it setup and filled with great content and notice that the theme supported podcasting and sermon audio and video posts.  This sounded like a great idea.  Put our sermons up online for our parishioners and let them download podcasts from iTunes?  Let’s do it!  But what they didn’t realize is that when they decided to update the look of their site by changing the theme, those podcasts suddenly disappeared.

Doing Things The Right Way

While the situation is slowly improving on the theme author’s side, there is something to be said for repeating that functionality belongs in plugins.  Themes are for styling and structure.  Please, if you are releasing a premium or free theme, don’t add custom post types or functionality in your theme.  Save it for a plugin.  In fact, feel free to write your own plugin and make it “recommended” for your theme.  Notice I said recommended, not required or plastered with notices that never go away.

But this also falls on the shoulders of the users to some degree.  We need to start teaching those we work with that distinction between plugins and themes.  Perhaps we also need to make it more clear in the naming or perhaps the interface.

A Few Options

So now that you know not to use the post types and podcasting functionality baked into some themes, where do you go to find these plugins?  There are lots of great options out there, here are a few of my favorite:

The first two are not specifically church podcast focused but more general.  I also find them to offer more features and more active development than the third.  But sermon manager worked well for several of my past clients.

New Podcasting Plugin?

I’ve also been thinking about releasing my own church podcasting plugin with some features related specifically to church sermon podcasting.  I’d love to hear what features you are looking for and any experience you have with the above plugins or any others that you love!