First off, I will admit that I’m a little bit freaky when it comes to producing quality media for the church… and I realize that this post may garner some negative responses from churches that are trying but falling short. My hope is that this post might cause some re-evaluation of how some churches use video elements within their own scope and limitations.
Like most media-geeks, I’m on youtube quite a bit… and I watch a lot of videos produced by churches (or church people). While most smaller churches (or churches with less gear, experienced staff, etc) seem to stay away from elaborate productions such as sermon bumpers, testimonial stories, or music videos, there seems to be an open ticket for everyone to take a whack at doing announcements on video. Now, I realize that announcements in any form can be the bane of any church that is trying to establish a good flow for their worship service… there is no way to transition smoothly from a great worship set to talking about the church-wide rummage sale or upcoming business meeting… BUZZ KILL! …but I also realize that if you don’t let your congregation know what’s happening in the non-Sunday life of your church there will be no non-Sunday life in your church… but there are some really BAD church announcement videos out there!!!
My take: Churches need to look at their situation and figure out what works best for them; First, figure out what your priorities are… how much information do you need to get out to your congregation and how soon? Some things may need the attention of a stage or video announcement while others may be better suited for your bulliten or church website. Prioritize what gets the bigger spotlight and proceed… and by proceed, I mean to work with what you have. I have what I call the because we can theory; “We have a camera, a projector, and some screens… we can do video announcements!” …Just because you have those items doesn’t mean you should use them like this. Technology will always be a get-what-you-pay-for category; cheap cameras, editing software and projectors will only take you so far… much the same way that if your youth pastor is also the church video guy, he will only have so much time (and energy) to do all of his tasks well. A well produced video announcement is no different than a well written and crafted song in your time of worship, or well prepared sermon… you will only get out of it what you have put into it.
Second: Do only what you can do well. The because we can theory says to do what ever you want simply because you can… forget the poor results, just do it. I have been around church stuff long enough to be well-over the mindset of “Bless his heart, he tried so hard…” Translation: That sucked but Jimmy sure likes playing with that video camera, doesn’t he? Are video announcements (or any video element) important to you because you feel that they will better reach your people with the proper impact and garner a great response, or are you doing them because you can and they’re not doing much except taking up time in your service? I like to evalutate things on a grade curve (still very subjective, I know). If the proposed video element doesn’t hit about a 7-8 minimum (on a scale of 1-10), don’t even bother… your energies are probably going to be much better spent elsewhere. Hit youtube, search “church announcements” and see what’s out there… I’d say that the bad ones out-number the good ones by about 10-1! If you would like to be effective with yours, make it a priority. Hire a well qualified person (or find a really talented volunteer) and give them the time and tools to do the job well. If that is not possible in the present, start planning for the future.
Third: Be strategic and and focused. As I stated previously, firgure out what needs video support and delegate the rest to your bulliten or website. Let’s face it, if you do a video for every meeting, event, bake sale, youth camp, bible class…. you won’t have time for your sermon! One way to think of things is that most people tend to remember things in 3s; Choose your three main items and give them the attention they need. Be short and to the point (pardon me for the old show business line) …leave them wanting more!
One quick thing to consider: If your church is already doing a pre-service count-down, consider using this time for your announcements. This can be as simple as a power point presentation with a countdown clock on up to a well produced mini news magazine about the events and activities at your church. This is a great option that can encourage your people to show up on time (or 5 minutes early… Imagine that!), and give you a chance to get your announcements out without taking up any time within your service. Here is an example:
If I may be of any assitance in helping your church with media elements, please drop me an e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here. My desire is to give God our best so that we can foster great environments for worship.