Ten Ideas for Video in Church, Part 1

I’ve spent some time over the past couple of years considering how a church could use video more effectively to build up their local congregation, as well as reach out to others.

My church is fairly modern, though located in a rural area, and attendance tends to be around 400-500. We’ve spent a substantial amount of time, money, and other resources on video, including planting a video venue church campus in another small town about 35 minutes away. We are currently working towards planting a second video venue campus in the other direction.

Video is such a great communications tool in the modern church that I’ve decided to compile this list of video ideas. My hope is to encourage and inspire others involved in church media to consider how they might use video more effectively as well.

Idea #1. Hold a Video Contest!

On the surface, this might seem like a lightweight idea, or maybe even a waste of time. There are three reasons, however, that I think holding a video contest is a great idea for a church.

The first reason is because making a video requires a lot of planning, thought, and careful execution. Teams taking part will learn a lot, not just about video, but about the content of their video. If the contest parameters are set well, this is a great opportunity for groups to learn about their faith together.

The second reason is that working together creates an opportunity for teamwork and bonding. There’s nothing like working all night on a last-minute editing project for making lasting memories.

Third, a video contest will illustrate who in the congregation has talent, creativity, and equipment. You might encourage a whole new set of eager video volunteers. And it could even be fun!

Idea #2. Video Bumpers

I’m not talking about a ride at the fair. Bumpers are videos that typically play just before the sermon. They are usually around 2-4 minutes long, and can be a great way to transition at that point in a service, letting musicians exit the stage and the pastor enter while the audience’s attention is held on the screen.

Bumpers are great in theory, but once you decide to use them, it becomes a whole new ballgame. How do you find bumper videos for every week of the year?

SermonSpice.com is probably the best online video site for church video. For $10-40/video, you can find a wide variety of content on nearly any topic.

Youtube is another place to look. Pick any big church pastor – they will have a plethora of short sermon clips or thought pieces on Youtube. There is a lot of great food for thought out there.

And then you can produce your own custom video bumpers. There’s a lot of potential power in creating your own, in-house custom video bumpers that goes beyond what can be found online.

For example…

Idea #3. Counseling Basics

If you’ve been a part of a church for any period of time, you know that churches aren’t made up of perfect people. Life is often difficult and confusing, and people need counseling sometimes. However, a sense of pride or fear can keep people from seeking out help. A series of bumper videos with a local counselor or pastor which speaks to some of these issues can help bridge that gap. This will enable some to start the healing process on their own, and also help others to feel more familiar with the process and know whom to seek out for help.

Idea #4. The Big Questions

Another clever way to use the bumper video space in a message is to address big questions, like ‘Did Jesus really rise from the dead?’, ‘How did we get the Bible?’, and ‘How can I know I’m saved?’ Even if these don’t directly relate to the sermon for that particular week, a steady diet of content like this will substantially bolster a person’s faith over time. If it’s presented by someone the congregation knows and trusts, all the better.

Idea #5. Mission Trip Reports

Missions trips often start with a flurry of excitement. Announcements, prayer, Facebook posts, and fundraising letters get the ball rolling. But when the team arrives home, they’re exhausted. It’s also a challenge to fit a missions trip report into a tight Sunday morning service. With a little skill, however, a short video can effectively communicate the purpose for the trip without sabotaging the service. If church members have been asked to donate funds towards the trip, a good video report will help them feel that their money was well spent.

In Ten Ideas for Video in Church, Part 2, I’ll cover 5 more ideas on how to effectively use video to build up a church body, as well as reach out to others.

Ten Ideas for Video in Church, Part 2

In Ten Ideas for Video in Church, Part 1 I introduced five ideas for building up a church congregation through the use of video. Here are another five.

Idea #6. Highlight Special Events

It’s important that the whole church congregation has at least some general idea of what’s going on outside of Sunday morning. My church is large enough now, especially with two campuses, that things can be overlooked. Our church held a VBS program recently, but I wasn’t a volunteer. Apart from the fact that there was a sign in front of the church, and I helped build a few stage props, I have no idea what happened. Did anyone attend? I’m fairly knowledgeable and involved, so if I don’t know, there’s a large segment of the church that knows even less.

Also, we occasionally have missionaries visit our church. Often missionaries are given a Saturday or Monday evening to share their stories, rather than Sunday morning. However, this means lower attendance for these meetings. That equals fewer people in our church knowing who we support and what they do. A highlights video on Sunday morning within a week or two of a missionary visit would help close this communications gap without significantly disrupting the Sunday service schedule.

Highlighting special events helps people connect with the broader activity of the church and creates a greater sense of family (“Oh, I didn’t know you volunteered for that! Looks like you had fun!”). Also, if the content of the video is engaging, people will be more interested and may participate the next time a special event comes up.

Idea #7. Faith Stories

There’s nothing like a heartfelt testimony of what God is doing in someone’s life. It’s important to know information about Jesus, but to see what he can do in real life is amazing and worth talking about. Any church that has had ‘open mic’ events, however, knows that the sharing of personal testimonies can be challenging and time-consuming. Our church staff actively looked for authentic testimonies to share, and then contracted with me to produce tightly edited videos to communicate those stories.

We played these faith stories on Sunday morning, but then I began sharing our faith stories on Youtube and Facebook. Not only did this enable people to watch videos they’d missed, but they could also share them with friends, and often would share these testimonies over an hour-long online sermon.

Idea #8. Baptism Testimonies

Baptisms are almost always accompanied by a statement of faith, and sometimes a longer testimony. However, it can be a very emotionally charged, public moment. Also, microphones don’t mix well with water so are not always well placed. Because of this, baptism testimonies can sometimes be a little rough for the rest of the church to comprehend. In some cases well-produced videos, similar to the faith story idea, could play a role in helping to share clearer, easier to understand, and more touching testimonies during baptism services.

Idea #9. Evangelism & Outreach

I’ve worked with a missions group that reaches out to indigenous people groups through video production. They will produce videos using local church groups that speak the language they are targeting, and then take these videos up into the surrounding mountain ranges and put on impromptu film screening events, where they show the films and preach. Crowds always gather to see these films.

Part of the reason for success is the recognition factor. ‘Oh, I know him, he’s the rice farmer from across the valley!”

Another example; our town has a yearly event that spoofs ‘Dancing With The Stars’, and they feature well-known local ‘celebrities’ as a part of the dance show. They draw a huge crowd and raise a significant amount of money for a local charity. It’s because of the recognition factor.

A locally produced film with local actors will attract attention. I experimented with this idea at a church I attended prior to moving to this area. We shot a film during the church’s summer daycamp, using the kids as actors, and drew a decent crowd of kids’ parents to see the end result. I could see the same thing working with a youth group project.

As an added touch, DVD copies made for the parents could include a custom message from the pastor or an appropriate promotional video of the church to further help reach out to them.

Idea #10. Support other local ministries

I started to notice something a couple years ago. I never realized how many small, struggling non-profits there are that need to communicate, but don’t have the budget or skills. In almost every community there are food pantries, homeless shelters, foster care and adoption offices, crisis nurseries, and many other non-profit groups working tirelessly to meet the needs of the ‘least of these’. Churches can be a bit inwardly focused at times, and forget that there are people serving God beyond the church walls. What an opportunity for your church video team to serve the world by helping local non-profit ministries tell their stories through video, and provide a venue and audience for those stories to be played.

Conclusion

This is in no way an exhaustive list. I know I’ve left a few things out, but I’ll close by saying this; Video can play an important role in church, bigger than we think. However, video alone isn’t enough. Video is just a tool to facilitate the next step in a person’s life. In a church setting, hopefully that step will bring them closer together as a church family, and ultimately closer to Jesus.