What does a good church video look like? I’ve seen a lot of them in my research, and partly the answer is, “It depends”. It depends on the context of the church, the audience of the video and its purpose.
Barneys Church Sydney recently published their new “Welcome” video – and it works (you can see how it fits on their website here). I think it is a really good example of a church welcome video that will still be current in a month, a year – even a few years – because it has these features:
- Simple, but well executed. People are in focus and clear, backgrounds are in the distance but relevant (at church, in the vicinity). Voices are clearly heard, lighting is even and consistent.
- The people on screen are church members speaking naturally about something that important to them, and you can see it in the way they speak – including the um’s and ah’s. They are a range of nationalities and ages, and this reflects the makeup of the church.
- As a welcome video, it gives people a reason to visit – “Here at Barneys, people are challenging what they’ve been told and considering Jesus for the first time” and shows newcomers what to expect when they come
- The music and style is secondary to the message.
This video won’t date as quickly because it isn’t aiming to be trendy in the music it uses, the visual treatment or camera angles and lots of B-Roll. It’s aimed at a broad audience and I think it will speak to a lot of people, well – and mostly, I think that’s because of the authenticity. When watching people being filmed for a video, they are most relaxed and natural when speaking about the topic that they love. Ironically – they are also trying to reach people at an age when authenticity is valued, so I think their video strategy works well with their audience.
The other part of the answer doesn’t change. It should be best quality you can afford to film (ie. if you have a smartphone, that’s it. If you can get an SLR with video capacity, use that instead) and edit – quickly. Video needs to be current, and its value will be decreased if it include content that dates quickly or can’t be updated.
Spending a sum of money to obtain a professionally scripted, filmed and edited video is one way a church could approach the challenge. The risk of course, is that the process involved means the content needs to be triple checked to make sure you aren’t promoting things that will be cancelled, welcoming from a minister who leaves later in the year, or comes 6 months before a major church redesign or strategy shift.
However, if you have the skills ‘in house’, I think you should make the best video that you can plan, script, film and edit within a month. All this because if you are making something that needs to be updated every 3-6 months – like a welcome video for the service, an event promo or a video for your website or youth group – this is a reasonable turnaround within the planning timeframes I’ve seen. You need to allow time to meet, plan and decide the content, in addition to organising all the filming and the follow on edits and updates. If the best skills and equipment you have in-house are an iPhone and iMovie, then work on getting this workflow running smoothly, before you invest in expensive gear and software (which may end up underused anyway).
If it’s “not good enough” – either because you, the video maker, weren’t very dissatisfied with the outcome despite doing your best, or because it doesn’t suit the church service style or strategy, then give it a break and consider other innovative ways of doing communication within and outside of your church. Maybe you could make a better investment in training up welcomers, or building your church’s kids program, or partnering with local groups to serve your community. There are lots of ways to reach out to the community and reach in to build up the church, without needing to use video. It may be that making your own videos is simply beyond the capacity, gifting or needs of your people.
Recently at our church, we’ve started a weekly “Church News” video, which is by no means perfect! But we’re working on how to have a dynamic video that welcomes newcomers and helps them get connected, streamlines announcements, and encourages church members. Doing all of this and pulling the technical side off is something James Kirsop has been blogging about here: