Embracing digital media is a must for the continued relevance of the Church. Embracing new types of media shows that a church is interested in staying relevant in connection with the larger world. This also includes being adaptive to the constantly changing landscape of digital media, knowing that mastering only one specific skill, and ignoring any other avenues for expression and connection, leaves us woefully behind as the months and years progress. It’s often said that once you buy a new piece of hardware (a new phone, computer, tablet, etc.) it is already out of date. This same sentiment is also pretty accurate when it comes to producing media itself. Digital media is constantly evolving and adapting to new technology and new audiences, and if the Church refuses to adapt along with it, then the Church will never reach each successive new audience.
One such form of digital media that is being embraced by churches is the production of videos. Ranging from slick, high-end productions to lovingly-made, no-budget vignettes, videos have become a necessary piece to helping advertise, evangelize, and respond to the community of the church, both locally and globally.
Videos can also be very intimidating. They require at least some knowledge of how to work a video camera (of some sort), access to and knowledge of video editing software, and a certain level of creativity that can appear daunting at first. I myself have created two videos in the past two years, so I understand these fears and concerns. But, as I discussed with my last post, we have to be willing to learn in order to better our church. This is why I recommend a podcast entitled “How to Stop Making Boring Videos with Jonathan Halls,” which can be found at http://theelearningcoach.com/podcasts/5.
This podcast dispels some of the myths that make video creation a mystical act, while also providing some very important insight not just into the production of video, but a focus on understanding how the viewer will take in and react to our video. Halls argues that “People get bored real quick and I think if we don’t have the action on the screen to keep people’s attention, we shouldn’t be using video.” This means that simply shooting one, long, uncut shot of a person speaking into the camera and calling it a good video, will never generate a lot of interest in the video. It is also important to not have your viewer bored, because they will forget the message being given. A talking head can only explain so much before the message is lost, but when you utilize video to show actual visuals (examples given by Halls include “role play in management training, how to use body language to convey communicative messages, or something like that”) the message is retained by the viewer.
In order to illustrate some of the concepts that Halls argues for, I want to breakdown two videos coming out of the Episcopal Church, both of which were produced on a minimal budget.
Serve Christ Maybe:
Ask Fr. Rob: Episcopal Church vs. Roman Catholic Church?:
The first video, Serve Christ Maybe, was a bit a viral video in the Episcopal Church world when it first came out, being shared by many across the country in my facebook newsfeed. It is easy to see why. The video is fun, engaging, and charming. It gets its message across in an easily approachable manner, and the message as presented is catchy and interesting. It makes you want to attend acolyte training if it will be even half as fun as the video.
The second video, is a prime example of what not to do. While the information is important and worth sharing, at just over nine minutes whatever message was hoped to be shared has long been lost as the viewer is likely to have already moved on because the video is not engaging. This video is a clear illustration of the many elements that Halls argues against in the podcast interview, and when compared to the first video it is clear that even with a minimal budget, you can present (even old, dry) material in new and interesting ways.
If you are considering producing a video of some element of life at your parish my first suggestion is: Do it! Resources abound to help guide you through this process and you can be successful. In order to be successful, search out those resources, including the above podcast or Halls’ book Rapid Video Development for Trainers. If you refuse to listen to what the people want, you will not produce a good video, simple as that.