How Modern Churches are Embracing Video in 2019

Video is becoming that platform churches know they should utilize, but aren’t quite sure where to start. With the broad reach and accessibility of social media, streaming and online videos are now a prolific medium for sharing content and engaging an unbelievably wide audience. The uses for video are endless, be that live-streaming sermons, sharing information about upcoming events, or just giving viewers a glimpse inside what day-to-day life is like for the members of your church leadership.

On the other hand, integrating video is a daunting task for many church administrators, as there are tons of misconceptions about the necessity of costly equipment or only the highest-quality content. The truth is, however, that video can be adjusted for what makes sense for your church. There’s no just one-right-way to approach it.

At Summit 2017, Pushpay hosted a panel of filmmakers, social media experts, and creative leadership to discuss how to explode your church’s growth with video on social media. The panel included Jason Caston, founder of Church Method; Tony Kriz, author, speaker, and filmmaker; Haley Veturis, social media manager for Saddleback Church; and Alejandro Reyes, creative pastor at Elevation Church.

We’ve gathered the best, most applicable advice from this Summit panel to help you nurture your church using video now rather than someday.

5 Impactful Ways to Nurture Your Church Using Video

1) Use video to tell your (and your congregation’s) story

Jesus was a master storyteller and He hinged His ministry on telling great stories. Churches can continue that trend by using video to tell great stories, too. The impact of the stories can be exponential, helping people along their faith journeys and providing some clarity about what it looks like to be a member of their community.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Austin Stone Community Church, as many churches did, banded together to help families who’d been devastated by the flooding. The Stone team filmed the story of one family from their congregation who’d lost almost everything, and highlighted not only how the church came to their aid, but how this experience impacted and strengthened the family’s faith.  

The Stone does a great job of capturing stories through video, helping people on their faith journey but also demonstrating what it means to be a committed member of the church. The real acts of service displayed within the video shows what it looks like to journey through the church and not just stand by.

“If we’re using videos just to deliver ideas, we’re missing the heart of video,” said Kriz, a speaker on the Summit panel. “Video is an amazing parable delivery system to tell people stories in a way that speaks to their heart and transforms their lives.”

2) Tackle easy-to-accomplish, low-maintenance video opportunities

If you want to get your feet wet with video, but aren’t completely sure where to start, the Summit panel recommended beginning with platforms that are meant to be less polished, such as Facebook Live or Instagram Stories. These streaming platforms don’t require hardly any preparation and are known for being raw and authentic.

As for what to film and share, panelists recommended starting with activities that already take place in your church community. A few moments of mid-week communal worship with your church staff, for instance, would be ideal for Facebook Live. You can also post sermon recaps on Monday evenings for those who weren’t able to attend, with a live Q&A to interact and answer questions. Instagram Stories, on the other hand, are great for behind-the-scenes moments with your church.

A few practical pieces of advice from our panelists include:

  • Keep your social media apps updated so you can access all the latest features
  • Put a very small budget behind Facebook videos to target a specific audience while greatly expanding your reach.

3) Don’t be intimidated by cost

Creating videos is literally easier (and cheaper) than it’s ever been before. While fancy cameras and lighting are great, all you really need these days is a smartphone (leverage that HD camera). If you’re looking to up your game without spending major cash, invest in affordable equipment such as a tripod for your phone and microphones to improve sound quality.

Small churches may think they’re at a disadvantage with stricter budgets, but according to the panel, smaller churches are at a great advantage when it comes to creating video content because they’re able to surpass many of the layers of approval necessary at larger churches. This really allows them to be nimble and get videos up quickly.

The impact of a video isn’t necessarily tied to the budget put behind that video. Authenticity and stories that matter set videos apart.

4) Utilize what’s available to you

In addition to cost, many pastors and church staff are also intimidated by the skill it takes to make a high-quality video. Not every video has to be (or even should be) extremely high quality. Rather than approaching video from a place of feeling it needs to be perfect, instead find ways to personalize your stories on the various mediums. Show people the real life of your church and how its leaders are actively connecting with your community. Authentic content as such builds trust.

By experimenting with different mediums and platforms, a few natural options will present themselves as great things to pursue moving forward. Maintain an attitiude of flexibility and accept that this is something you’ll just have to learn as you go. You’ll figure out the platforms by using them.

Also, you can’t be everywhere at once. Find ways to include younger church members looking to get involved by asking them to either film events/moments in the church, or by sharing videos they think the rest of your community might be interested in. This will help to build a personal video library relevant to your church.

5) Be (conscientiously) transparent

The buzzword of social media is “authenticity,” and with that comes transparency. Ultimately, people are so inundated by polished advertisements and messages sent their way, it’s refreshing to go online and see something that’s more believable and relatable.

Some ways to encourage and increase transparency in video and on your social platforms is to personalize interactions, reply to video comments, and share unpolished, raw day-to-day moments. Don’t be afraid to try things out to see what works best for your church.

When being transparent and vulnerable, however, it’s important to be intentional and thoughtful about what you’re sharing, as your church’s weaknesses will also likely be amplified in the process. Think about what you want to put out and understand that once it’s out there, it’s out there. Even videos that only stay live for a limited period of time can be downloaded.

Integrating Video into Your Overall Approach to Social Media

While incredibly impactful, video is just one medium for sharing content, engaging church members, and nurturing your community. For other tips and insights about how to approach social media and marketing for your church, check out the Pushpay blog and podcast.

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