Recently my church embarked on an endeavor to start getting out beyond our four walls and influencing our community. One of the ways we decided to do that was to start a church video production ministry.
Since I am the pastor and the guy with the most tech experience, it was my job to get the pieces into place and to train the volunteers to run it. I really didn't know much about video production, but I love to learn by doing so off I went to try to figure this video ministry thing out.
Along the way I discovered some things that I thought would be helpful to you as you start to discern what God is speaking to you about church video and how it can be used for His glory in your church and community.
Starting A Church Video Production Ministry
Answering The Why
Before you start out in this new ministry you really need to understand why you are doing it. I can guarantee that you will encounter resistance to any new ministry you start in your church.
There are people that will not want to ever be caught on camera. Others will distrust using new technology in the church. And some just have a hard time embracing change of any kind.
If you don't know why you are doing it other than it sounded like a good idea, then you will not be able to effectively communicate the purpose and the resistance will turn into rebellion.
So why are you starting this video production ministry? Is it going to be a tool for evangelism? Is it going to be used to influence your community in its values and culture? Is it going to be used for better communication between church leadership and the people they are serving? Is it going to serve people who have special needs or are shut ins?
These are important questions to answer before you start because it will shape the way you go forward with the ministry.
Answering The How
Just as important as answering why you are doing it is answering how you are going to do it. What I mean by that is how public and how "produced" is your ministry going to be?
Public Video Production Vs. Private Video Production
Public video production is things like live streaming, videos of your church functions, videos of youth group activities, ect.
Private video production is clips of the pastor speaking to the congregation where only he is shown, announcements, testimonies where you have been given permission to video the people giving the testimony. Things like that.
For our church, the how was public. We are using video to live stream our services on Facebook and on our church website. As the ministry grows, then we will branch out into the other areas.
Produced Videos Vs. Raw Videos
The next question to answer is how "produced"are your videos are going to be? This may seem like a silly question but in the age of reality TV, it is actually relevant.
We all want to do the best job we can possibly do for God's glory. Some would say that means to really produce a good video. But good is in the eye of the beholder.
Many people see value in watching real video that is not produced. I call it raw video. They find it more "authentic." I am not making a value judgement on either type. I am just pointing out that both can be viable expressions of our faith.
So you need to decide how much production is going to be involved to express the values your church holds.
In our case, we decided to go with the raw footage rather than take on the cost and recruit the volunteers that would go into developing production style videos. However that doesn't mean as our video ministry grows, we won't use that style in the future as well.
Answering The What
What will be the focus of your church video production ministry?
I am a big believer in learning how to do something and doing it well before moving on to the next thing. I love expanding but doing so with a solid foundation.
It is wise to ask yourself what are we going to do with this video ministry? This will effect what type of video equipment you need, what type of training or learning curve is involved, ect.
So are you going to do announcement clips first? Are you going to produce clips to promote your church? Are you going to use the clips to communicate your church's story or mission on social media?
Is your church video ministry going to serve the elderly or shut ins with a live broadcast of your church service? Are you going to use it to try to evangelize your community with thoughtful responses to life issues?
All of these things will shape your decisions and it is best to know these answers so you will know what you need and where you are heading.
Gathering Your Equipment
Basic Starter Video Equipment
Once you have a clear understanding on what you are planning to do, it is time to gather your equipment. As I shared in my ultimate guide to church live streaming, I give a basic list of equipment you are going to need. These are....
- A Video Production Computer
- An Adequate Camcorder
- Video Production Software
- External Microphones
- A HDMI To USB Converter
Plus a few accessories. You can put out a call to your congregation if they have some of these things they can donate or you can just take up an offering for the new ministry.
Or in our case, our church board was supportive of the new ministry and they designated a budget to get our video ministry started.
Putting It All Together
I highly suggest that you do as I say rather than do as I did. Experience can be a great teacher but avoiding dumb mistakes is wise. I made a dumb mistake.
I first started using a webcam to stream our live services. Wrong tool for the wrong use. Webcams are great for up close shots sitting at a desk. They stink for long distance shots. I really didn't test to see how it looked on Facebook before live streaming to Facebook. Big mistake.
Test out all your equipment, especially donated equipment. Somebody's 10 year old video camera just might not be the right tool for the right job. We all love how they were willing to donate the equipment, but it just might not accomplish your purpose.
Do some dry runs. Evaluate if it looks the way you want it to work. Make sure you have your settings correct on your video production software. All of this makes a difference.
Our live stream improved drastically once I sat down and tested everything and found the solutions we needed to produce a church video stream that was high enough quality that people could see and understand what is going on.
Launching Your Church's Video Ministry
Even though it was quite the headache at times for me in getting our church prepared and ready to have a video ministry, it has been worth it. It has been used by people to check out our church before attending. It has been used by those that were ill or shut in to watch our sevices, and it has been increasing our influence in our community.
Don't be immobilized by fear of getting something wrong. You will. However the grace of God is bigger than your ability.
Launch your church video production ministry and watch what God does with it. Be faithful in the little things and He will grow your ministry into something that is a blessing far beyond your wildest dreams.