On Aug. 1, 1981, MTV—the world’s first 24-hour music video television network—made history when it launched with The Buggles’ “Video Killed The Radio Star.”
Around 20 years later, MTV largely abandoned music video programming in favor of so-called reality television, an ever-evolving format that should fascinate and baffle anthropologists for centuries to come.
And while MTV has moved away from the innovation that it popularized, short-form videos aren’t going anywhere. A 2016 Cisco white paper predicts that “video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2020.”
“It would take an individual more than 5 million years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks each month in 2020. Every second, nearly a million minutes of video content will cross the network by 2020.”
Many communities—including technologically advanced churches—have picked up on this trend and are doing some amazing things with it.
Let’s take a look at…
Seven Awesome Church Videos That You Can Learn From
For these seven videos, please allow me to be your VJ (video jockey). You can call me VJ A-Con…or not.
Anyway, we’ll be looking at some really cool church videos from around the country that may make you wonder if they were produced by a Hollywood movie studio.
Just a quick note that for the purposes of this piece, we’re looking at videos like promos, announcements, and welcome videos, so live streaming and sermon broadcasts are on the sideline this time.
We’ll also take a look at what makes these videos so impressive, and how you can try some of the same techniques at your church.
Some of these churches have the budget and staff to rival a small corporation, and have their own in-house production studios. But if your church is on the smaller side and you still want to make some cool videos, there’s good news.
The smart people over at Pro Church Tools know what it takes to make awesome church videos (they create about 3,000 church video announcements per year!), but they also understand that not every church can afford a $50,000 camera.
With that in mind, here are a few of Pro Church Tools’ best resources for getting a video set-up on a budget:
- The $139 Church Video Camera Setup
- The Only Light You’ll Ever Need For Creating Church Videos
- 9 Ways To Create A Cinematic Look In Your Videos
And a few more helpful resources from Wistia:
Now, onto the videos!
What makes it awesome: I love how they filmed on location in Chicago, showing the city skyline, the L trains, the bike share system, and Lake Shore Drive; no one is going to mistake this video for being filmed in Iowa. I also really like the montage of welcome messages from church members. It makes you feel like you will be accepted as a visitor even before attending.
How you can do something similar: Get out of the lobby of your church and film out in the community you live and work in. You don’t have to live in a major city like Chicago to do this. Even in a small town you can go to the local parks, the sports complex, or the lake. Filming in places that make your community unique will make your video unique.
What makes it awesome: Jeremy Poland is a complete natural on the camera. He seems relaxed and comfortable, and that allows his humorous personality to come across easily. In fact, these videos aren’t even categorized as religion, they are categorized as comedy, and rightfully so. But notice that he never gets vulgar or disrespectful, and he still delivers all the essential announcements.
How you can do something similar: Find the goofball at your church who is always photo bombing other people’s pictures and cracking jokes, and get them in front of the camera. Church announcements don’t have to be stuffy or rigid, and they’re a great way to make use of the unique talents in your church.
What makes it awesome: Dr. David Anderson is the face of Bridgeway, and he greets you right away in the video. But he doesn’t just greet you, he also takes on key issues like boredom and segregation up front. The video also includes scenes from a typical Sunday service, so that visitors know what to expect ahead of time.
How you can do something similar: Include your church’s mission statement from a key member in your greeting video the same way you would put your most important information at the top of a resume. Also, film the congregation coming and going in the lobby—not just the service—so that potential visitors can see what a day in the life of your church is really like.
What makes it awesome: I like the countdown timer in the lower right corner, which builds excitement along with the gathering of churchgoers. The music and fast-paced editing really give Church on the Move videos a “music video” feel, and you get an idea of what the Church on the Move experience is like without any spoken words at all.
How you can do something similar: This video has hundreds of edits in just over two minutes, which would be very difficult to replicate without a dedicated video production staff. But you can achieve a similar effect by splicing in still photographs of your church activities along with the video clips.
What makes it awesome: This welcome video is short, sweet, and to the point. It has a few impressive shots, like the flyover of the church and a few clips of musical performances and services, but the meat of the greeting is just one of the church directors, Jason Kanapkey, telling us a little bit about Preston Trail and welcoming viewers to stop by. It’s not pushy or fancy, but it is genuine and effective.
How you can do something similar: Don’t try to do too much in your church video greeting! You don’t need a helicopter, drone, or staccato editing to make a great church video. If you keep your greeting to less than a minute, you can make that minute awesome by focusing on making a few elements—welcome message, establishing shots of your church, highlights of the service—as strong as possible.
What makes it awesome: Similar to Church on the Move, Abundant Life doesn’t use any spoken words to get their message across. But they do focus on showing every facet of their church community in a short time: the Sunday experience, childcare, music, youth groups, sports, and even international outreach.
How you can do something similar: As we saw with Preston Trail and now Abundant Life, keeping your greeting video to less than a minute is a great way to focus your scope on creating an engaging viewing experience for potential visitors. Another trick I really liked from Abundant Life was how they included video from an international outreach program. If you have church members traveling abroad, make sure they remember to bring a camera!
What makes it awesome: Talk about production value! The nature shots, the writing, and the epic music all make this video feel like a trailer that you might see before the next Marvel superhero movie. And this video was made exclusively to promote Easter of 2017!
How you can do something similar: Great writing also has an important place in video production. The words spoken by Pastor Jon Thompson in this piece have as much of an impact, if not more, as the majestic shots of trees and orchestral music. If you have a great writer at your church, don’t limit their talents to the page.
The Blooper Reel
Church, and church videos, can and should be fun. So here are a few videos on the lighter side from the jokers at Church on the Move and Abundant Life.
Have you seen any awesome church videos lately? Do you have any tips on creating great church videos? If so, please share them in the comments!
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