the road

faith, jesus, and a conversation on the road

Month: April, 2014

making videos for church

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 it is already out of date.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.

a sermon for maundy thursday

Intimacy is not something that we are often readily available to share. Our culture promotes the individual, and in turn, promotes a sense of privacy in that individuality, a sense that what we do on our own time is ours and is not to be shared with anyone else. For, what would our friends and neighbors think of us if they knew that we liked to watch cheesy sci-fi b-movies late at night, or swore by the power of talking to plants in the little gardens we keep on our window sills? Surely, this is knowledge that is best left a secret except for maybe those who are the closest to us. Sharing this little piece of ourselves is so shocking and so intimate, that we can truly only trust those whom we have built a firm foundation of relationship and understanding. This moment of deep intimacy is powerful and draws us closer together with who we share our best-guarded secrets, and yet, it is a shame that we only allow a few, hand-selected individuals into these deepest parts of our lives.

The disciples themselves were privileged to experience very powerful, intimate moments with Jesus Christ. Throughout the scriptures we hear about personal commissionings they receive from Jesus, about the time when Jesus awed them with his great power and authority when he calmed the storm from the bow of their little boat, about the fantastic moment of Jesus’ transfiguration, and soon enough his invitation to enter the garden and pray with him in his last moments on Earth as a free man. Jesus continually enters into these intimate moments with the disciples to teach them not only about their relationships with each other and with God, but about their coming call to serving those who wish to follow in the footsteps of him. And yet, Jesus goes beyond this self-selected group. A group that we would expect to receive these intimate moments because they are the closest friends and family to Jesus.

Throughout the scripture, we also see Jesus entering into intimate, personal encounters with many people that would otherwise be forgotten or ignored. Speaking with the multi-married, multi-divorced samaritan woman at the well, Jesus intimates that he already knows more about this woman than she could ever share with him. Jesus walks out amongst the lepers, healing and touching, an act so intimate that it shocks the observers, leaving them to wonder if this is a crazy man walking their streets, rather than the purported Son of God.

The deep sense of intimacy that is present throughout Jesus’ ministry is culminated in the actions of this night. Gathering together to break bread, the disciples and Jesus are coming together to share in a familiar and yet intimate act. Sharing a meal with other people, like the meal we have shared together tonight, exposes a side of ourselves that we otherwise keep hidden. It is hard to keep our natural tendencies hidden while eating, so we give in and enjoy the company of those around us, trying to maintain a bit more decorum than we may otherwise in front of the television, but nevertheless sharing ourselves with each other. This is a feeling that is well-known to the disciples, who have come to feel empowered as a group of brothers doing the work of God. This intimate event has become familiar, non-threatening, enjoyable. And Jesus decides to push them just a bit further.

Stooping down, with his outer cloak removed and a towel around his waist, Jesus, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior, washes the dirty, mud and excrement-caked feet of his brothers. Jesus does this to illustrate one simple fact: “I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”(John 13:15) It is in this intimate act that Jesus shows to us the life that we are called to live. As followers of Christ, we are asked to enter into the intimate moments of our lives and the lives of those around us. When we share the intimate with each other, we share our true selves with one another. When we are truly open and honest about who we are, why we are, what we are, that is when we can be said to be followers of Christ.

Jesus brings a close to this moment of deep personal connection by reiterating the tenant upon which all of this built: “that you love one another.” It is through love that we can find the confidence to break down the walls protecting our most intimate moments. It is through love that we can in turn invite others to share in this sense of belonging and closeness. It is through love that we can, and must, model the life of Jesus, sharing our intimate moments not just with our friends or family (although this is a very valid place to start) but also with those strangers who we meet on our path. Sharing intimacy with them, we truly discover what it means to live the Christ-like life that we are called into today. Amen.