The value that comes from using video is not really a secret. For decades, major corporations and businesses have been using video effectively to communicate their message. But, utilizing video and delivering it to your audience wasn’t in the budget for most churches, or even business owners, until recently. We all knew about “that one church” that had a television ministry 15 years ago, but the average church couldn’t afford it. As technology progressed we began to see even smaller churches put out video content, but there wasn’t a sizable audience and it wasn’t being used effectively. Now we’ve come to a point where internet video consumption has overtaken television video consumption. What this means is that anyone can get their content in front of their audience, it’s not just limited to television anymore.
This is where the tide has really changed over the last 10 years or so. It used to be that the battle was just to get in front of people, that’s no longer the case. A 12-year-old can find an audience online. Literally, there are 12-year-olds (and younger) that have built an audience using video content. We’ve come to a point that we have to improve our production value and storytelling abilities if we want people to watch our videos. This isn’t limited to the internet either, just because someone sits through a video in your church service, doesn’t mean that it’s being used effectively. The internet is filled with churches that are struggling to communicate their message in a clear and effective manner: http://badchurchvideo.tumblr.com/
Here are five ways that you should be utilizing video in your church and how you can do it effectively:
1. Have a Welcome Video on Your Website
Keep in mind that this would very likely be a first impression video. Seated at your desk while one of your staff members holds your iPhone probably isn’t going to yield the best results for this project. The reason someone watches this video is to find out more about your church and you want to keep this in mind when you create the video.
a. Capture good audio. Use a lapel or lav mic if necessary.
b. Use a lot of b-roll. You can show people what your church is like in a very short amount of time.
c. Keep it short. Storyboard or script your video, then stick to it. 2-5 minutes is perfect.
Here’s an example:
2. Use A Video to Make Church-wide Announcements
I know a lot of churches already do this, but even if you do, it can still be improved upon! Before you shoot the video, decide what announcements have the most importance and what announcements have less importance or urgency, then give each announcement the amount of time they deserve. If you want people to take action right away it might be a good idea to put the video at the end of the service and the actionable announcement last. An announcement video should save time in the service and provide a little extra mileage by a post to your social media accounts later.
a. Know your schedule well enough that you can shoot these videos no more than quarterly. Once or twice a year is perfect.
b. Very rarely, should an announcement be in this video, that only applies to one group of people. (i. e. Teens, young adults etc. One exception would be visitors.)
c. This video should have a portion specifically aimed at visitors if you play it in your service.
d. Just because it’s in the video, doesn’t mean you can’t announce it in the service. In fact, this is a great way to add importance or urgency to an announcement.
e. Keep it short. Stay on point. 2-5 minutes is perfect.
Here are some examples:
Here’s one that utilizes a green screen:
Here is one that doesn’t use a green screen:
3. Post a Video on Social Media to Connect With People Throughout the Week
This can be done as a live video or one that is recorded and posted later. This is also a time that it may be acceptable to use your mobile device. This video can be related to ministry, or not related to ministry at all. The purpose is to connect and engage people throughout the week.
Because of the nature of this type of video, you’ll want to create some bullets and stick to them. You don’t have to script the entire video, but these can get really long, really fast! Keep in mind, that if this is a live video, people may click play later in the day. If your video is 15 minutes long they probably won’t watch it. This type of video can be perfect to remind people of an upcoming event or even to build excitement about something while you’re preparing.
a. Be careful not to overload your audience with videos every day! While there are times this may be appropriate, just be conscious of your audience.
b. This may be an appropriate time to use a mobile device, but you need to fight for the best production value that you can get. Pay close attention to the light and the audio.
c. Try to create engagement: Ask a question. Give something away. Invite them to a specific service or event. Talk about your video(s) in the service.
Here’s an example:
4. Live stream your church service
This is a pretty hot topic right now, with the introduction of Facebook Live last year a large number of churches have started to live stream their service. While I personally would say you should be streaming your church service, there are some valid points to be made from the other side of the argument.
The purpose of streaming your service shouldn’t be solely to duplicate what happens in your service, but rather to motivate someone that’s watching to experience your service in person.
In other words, it’s okay to leave them wanting more. There are still others that would argue that because people aren’t likely to watch the entire service, that streaming the entire service will hurt engagement on your page.
Unfortunately, we don’t know Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm, but here is what we do know: they are giving a higher priority to live videos than any other content. They’ve also created a much larger category of people, than had previously existed, to watch your live video because they don’t have to visit a specific URL to see your service anymore. This means that you can end up with viewers that didn’t deliberately set out to watch your church service, it just showed up in their Facebook feed.
a. This is not a good time to use your mobile device. Good video and audio is a really important part of a live stream and you aren’t going to get acceptable audio and video from a cell phone.
b. Make sure you have someone to engage the audience in real time! Encourage them to do this from their personal account and not as an admin on your page.
c. A live video will attract more viewers and engagement when it’s shared by a personal page. Encourage people to share your live video.
d. Schedule your live broadcast in advance, this allows people to subscribe to reminders via Facebook.
e. Offer a special gift when viewers visit your church in person for the first time.
Here’s an example:
5. Create a Recap Video
A recap video is a great way to celebrate victories together as a church. Unfortunately, the culture we live in is always hustling to move on to the next big thing. But, sometimes we need to stop and admire what God has already done. This is a great reminder that it can happen again. There really aren’t any rules about the frequency of this type of video, you could do a quick recap video of every major event and have it ready to go on social media the following week. For recap videos that cover a longer span of time, you’ll probably need to plan on taking a little longer to prepare. A “year in review” can be fitting as you present the vision for a new year, but that’s going to require a little more effort than an “Easter recap video.”
a. Showing numbers, on screen, in the video can have a big impact.
b. Including testimonies will give this video a personal touch.
c. A recap video is a must for something that not everyone could be a part of, like a missions trip.
d. If you can avoid it, try not to use a mobile device, especially for testimonies.
e. Get as much mileage as you can from a video like this. Show it in the service. Post it on social media. Promote the video before you release it. Then, use it again to promote an event if it happens on an annual basis.