How Sermon Transcription Benefits All Churchgoers

By: Verbit Editorial

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Churches of all shapes and sizes can take steps to ensure equal messaging for all members, regardless of their ages, backgrounds or abilities. Whether listening to a sermon in-person or online, sermon transcription is a valuable tool. Transcripts are a resource for many church attendees who need additional support in order to meaningfully engage.

Table of Contents:

man standing on the stage of an auditorium

What Does it Mean to Transcribe a Sermon?

Transcription refers to the process of converting audio and video recordings to text. There are two standard styles of transcription: Verbatim transcription and non-verbatim transcription. Verbatim transcription will account for all the spoken text of a recording, as well as other non-speech audio elements like sound effects or applause. Verbatim transcripts do not undergo editing for grammar. These transcripts also don’t notate things like pauses, stammers and filler words. Non-verbatim transcripts, on the other hand, offer an edited and distilled version of the text. As a result, non-verbatim transcripts clearly convey the main ideas of a sermon, lecture or conversation. 

Regardless of the medium of a sermon, audio transcription or video transcription can support a wide range of digital content. Users can take existing audio and video recordings, as well as livestreams, and preserve them as text. This makes it possible to offer more equitable experiences to all attendees, regardless of whether they are attending a service virtually or in-person.

There are no set sermon transcription guidelines. However, it’s important to take steps to ensure the accuracy of any published content or transcripts. Transcription errors can be funny, but they can also be embarrassing and even offensive. These errors are often distracting, and they can compromise the overall message of a sermon. Additionally, audio and video transcripts must achieve a high level of accuracy to support accessibility guidelines like the Americans with Disabilities Act.

man speaking in front of people sitting on chairs

How Do You Transcribe Sermons?

Depending on their needs, church leaders have a few different methods to choose from when it comes to sermon transcription. Some churches may ask staff or volunteers to manually transcribe video or audio recordings of previous sermons. This process can be extremely time consuming, particularly if the church has a hefty backlog of recorded content. It’s also important to note that individuals without professional transcription training are prone to making a substantial number of errors. As mentioned, those mistakes can compromise the messaging of the piece.

For that reason, some churches may choose to outsource sermon transcription to professional transcribers. While human transcribers are able to achieve high accuracy rates, they are similarly limited by bandwidth issues. Over the last few years, many churches have had to begin hosting virtual services. As a result, church leaders likely have a high volume of archival footage on their hands. Hiring professional transcribers to handle this workload could be incredibly costly and take quite some time to complete.

Instead, church leaders should consider using a cost-effective professional sermon transcription service like Verbit. Verbit combines both artificial intelligence and professionally trained human transcribers to tackle large-scale transcription projects with industry-leading turnaround times and targeted accuracy rates of up to 99%.

Verbit offers top-tier sermon transcription services for existing audio and video recordings. Also, the accessibility solutions provider integrates with live-streaming platforms like Zoom and WebEx. As a result, Verbit’s experts can transcribe live church services as they occur, making it possible for remote viewers to engage and participate in real time. Once a service has concluded, the experts will then review and edit the live transcript for accuracy before making it available for download. Unlike some other sermon transcription companies, Verbit’s final transcripts are also fully searchable. Verbit’s searchability feature makes them an extremely valuable reference tool for both attendees and staff.

screen of a camera capturing a person in front and Sermon Transcription

What are the Benefits of Sermon Transcription?

Over the last few years, not only have the demographics of congregations changed, but so have the ways in which members attend and engage with weekly services. Here are some of the key ways sermon audio transcription services can support the changing needs of members and staff.

1. Improved accessibility

Offering accurate transcripts is one of the best ways to support congregants who are Deaf or hard of hearing. Transcripts may be especially necessary for members who are viewing a livestream of a church service, rather than attending in person. It is not uncommon for churches to provide assistive listening devices or even ASL interpreters for their services. However, members who are unable to physically attend a service would not have access to those resources. Additionally, not everyone who is Deaf or hard of hearing knows sign language.  

Offering an accurate, real-time transcript of the sermon for online viewers is an alternative solution. Transcripts can allow for equal messaging regardless of physical location or knowledge of sign language. These transcripts can also provide a resource after the service concludes, making them a valuable reference and study tool. Additionally, transcription is a great way to support churchgoers with ADHD or auditory processing disorders, as well as those members whose first language is something other than English. Since everyone should be able to engage equally with each week’s sermon, church transcription services should be offered proactively to all members. It’s not enough to provide these to just those who explicitly request accommodations. This solution can help all attendees feel welcome and included, regardless of whether they are first-time visitors or long-time members.

2. Increased efficiency:

Searchable transcripts can be an invaluable resource when it comes to record-keeping. Having written accounts of past sermons on hand can help streamline and organize a church’s archives. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon for ministers to refer back to previous messages when preparing for a new sermon. With Verbit’s platform, they can simply search for specific keywords in a transcript and locate the corresponding portions of existing recordings. This function cuts back on time they would otherwise spend digging through old audio and video recordings in search of a specific segment of a previous sermon.

3. Wider messaging:

Churches can make transcripts of sermons available online as part of their outreach efforts. Making transcripts available is a great way of reaching new audience members who may not have access otherwise. In today’s landscape, churches may want to focus not just on growing membership at a physical location, but also on growing their online following. Posting sermon transcripts online makes the text discoverable by search engines, thus boosting a church website’s SEO ranking and increasing traffic to their webpages.

people sitting on chairs focusing on their laps with books and Sermon Transcription

With Verbit’s Sermon Transcription, Fellowship Comes First

Verbit is a proud provider of a wide range of accessibility technologies because we believe in the importance of building inclusive communities. Tools like captioning, transcription, translation and audio description can support churches looking to expand their outreach and support attendees of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Everyone deserves equal access to their faith communities. That truth remains even if those communities look a little different in today’s virtual world. Reach out to learn more about how Verbit’s team of experts can help churches of all shapes and sizes deliver more accessible experiences for all their congregants.