Create an Alexa Skill for Your Church
If you don’t have one in your home yet, you’ve likely at least seen the commercials featuring the voice of Alexa on the Amazon Echo smart speakers. These devices allow you to voice commands to your speakers, giving you the ability to play music, control home devices or get weather updates with the sound of your voice. Here’s a video with a quick rundown if you haven’t interacted with one before.
Recently, Amazon made it much easier for people to design their own “skills” compatible with Alexa, meaning you can create your own Alexa interaction without any coding knowledge. Once I heard about this, I did a bit of research and found a (easy!) way to connect our First MB Church sermons to the Amazon Echo. If your church is already producing an audio podcast of your messages, you’re only a couple of easy steps away from making this happen.
- Start by going here and follow the prompts.
- You will need your podcast’s RSS feed. Whoever setup your podcast should be able to track this down.
- Next, you’ll type in a welcome message that Alexa will speak when people open your skill.
- Give your skill a name and fill in a few more details—and that’s it!
We had a few people test the device in their homes before announcing it to the church, but it worked pretty seamlessly for us. Now you can say “Alexa, open First MB Church,” and you’ll hear our most recent sermon. It probably won’t have a huge response, and a large percentage of people aren’t using these devices yet. But it didn’t take much setup, and it’s a fun and easy way to try something new. Give it a shot. It is pretty fun to hear Alexa talk about your church.
We would like to thank Matt Ehresman for sharing this idea. Matt has served as the media/graphic design/communications/web/video/social media guy at First MB Church in Wichita, Kansas, since June 2013. He lives with his wonderful wife, Tillie; beautiful daughter, Heidi; and their mischievous dog, Jarvis.
I love this idea! Are you able to post other content in addition to sermons? Does Alexa give the listener an option to choose what they want to hear or does it just play most recently uploaded content? Are you able to see engagement metrics (number of listeners, length of time listened, etc)? Thank you! we are a new church plant and we are trying to think outside the box!