How (and why) to start an online ministry

Jun 12, 2024

Years ago, I met and became friends with a pastor.  When I first met him, I was still in college, but I was about a year away from serving in full-time pastoral ministry so I had a lot of questions for him and some of the other pastors I knew.  One of the big questions I wanted to discuss related to the topic of sermon preparation.  I wanted to know how he prepared his messages and what he did with them after he preached them.

I was shocked by his answer.

His process of preparation wasn’t what shocked me, but I was disturbed by what he told me he did with his sermons after he delivered them.  He routinely made a habit of throwing his notes away after he spoke, and I couldn’t understand why he did that.  After spending many hours working on those messages, how could he justify tossing his notes in the trash?

As time went on and I started actively serving in a pastoral role, I began preparing and delivering many sermons and other lessons.  I made a point to keep everything I prepared, but something else bothered me.  Most of those messages were delivered once, then they went into a file never to be heard from again.  It was essentially like I was throwing them in the trash because, beyond the moment they were delivered, these sermons had no second life.  They weren’t recorded and the text wasn’t made public.  Either you heard the messages when they were first delivered or you missed them completely.

In time, I started to feel like this was very poor stewardship of content I had spent a long time creating, so I started thinking about additional ways it could be shared.  The internet makes so many options possible, affordable, and accessible, so I tried sharing those messages in several ways.

I began by using the text to create several self-published books.  When that went well, I started recording my sermons and sharing them as podcast episodes.  Not long after that, I created a website and began posting my notes as blog posts.  Eventually, I also invited people to sign up for my email list so I could share this content via a weekly newsletter as well.

Here’s what happened over the next few years after committing to creating this content each week…

The self-published books gained traction.  At this point, almost two hundred thousand are in print or have been downloaded as ebooks.  This eventually led to a publishing contract with Penguin Random House, the largest traditional publisher in the United States.  You can now find my book, “Dwell On These Things”, in every major bookstore in the United States.  Walmart and Target also carry it on their websites.

At present, my podcasts have been downloaded over 14 million times, and one particular show, “The Chapter-A-Day Audio Bible,” regularly ranks as one of the top Christian podcasts in most English-speaking countries.

Several of my blog posts regularly rank in the top 10 for their search results in Google and other search engines.

In 2023, I was offered a contract with the Salem Media Group which invited me to make my podcasts part of their LifeAudio network.  I was also invited to become a contributing writer for

This is precisely what I wanted to see happen when I started sharing my ministry content online, but I couldn’t control the results.  All I could do was faithfully share what the Lord was teaching me in the hope of helping other people grow spiritually as well.  I host all of my faith-based content on my website at, and there’s something particularly special about sharing it online that makes me happy every time I think about it… I have the privilege to reach more people each week than ever before, but it wouldn’t have happened if I kept this content hidden away in my file cabinets and computer folders.

Have you ever wondered if you’ve been called to do something similar?

The internet is filled with garbage and all kinds of unwholesome content.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if a whole bunch of us partnered up to change that by flooding the online space with good and godly content instead?

If this is something you feel led to do, let me offer a few suggestions that I think you’ll find helpful.

1.  Make sure your understanding of the Bible and theology is on point.  Take the time to learn the Scriptures so you don’t inadvertently promote anything inaccurate or untrue (like some online influencers do).

2.  Start with what you have.  Is there something you’re already creating that you could easily share publicly?

3.  Be consistent so you’ll gain momentum.  Post new content every single week.

4.  Add new forms of content gradually.  If you’re blogging, you don’t immediately have to add a podcast or a YouTube channel, but if you do choose to add them, don’t rush yourself to do it overnight.

5.  Choose an easy-to-remember name for your platform. is easy for my audience to find, remember, and figure out what it’s about.

6.  Keep expenses down.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to do this.  Use services like Squarespace for your website and Podbean for your podcast.  They aren’t expensive.  And if you’re going to publish books, I would recommend using the free services at Amazon through their Kindle Direct Publishing platform.

7.  Utilize crowdfunding as a way to help keep your expenses low.  There are people who will gladly support what you’re doing through or if the content you’re producing is helpful.

8.  Find people to partner with and learn from.  You’ll save yourself many costly mistakes.  You’ll also find the inspiration, information, and accountability extremely valuable.  I’m biased, but I would definitely recommend joining the Members’ Club at for at least a month or two to help you get started and set your platform on a trajectory of growth.

There’s a lot more I can say about this subject, but I’ll finish with this.  Building an online ministry might become one of the most valuable and consequential things you ever choose to do.  If you’re passionate about helping people meet Jesus, grow spiritually, learn the Scriptures accurately, and become healthy in all kinds of areas, this may be an approach worth taking.  It certainly has been for me.

© John Stange, 2024

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