One of the largest challenges facing church today is how to approach the whole concept of what is becoming known in the industry as cyberministy, reaching out to parishioners through websites, blogs, social media outlets, Twitter and the like. It is an area that has at first been met with resistance among church leaders, but the fact of the matter is that most people in this technological age receive information mostly through cyberspace. The days of paper church newsletters are going the way of the do-do, unfortunately, and whether we like it or not, something has to be established within churches to reach out to members electronically.
This can take many forms, of course. Most churches today have at the very least a website people can access to obtain information about worship times and event schedules and to find the contact information of staff members and church workers. This sort of setup is mainly used to serve the needs to already active members and is in some ways simply replacing the hard copy church newsletter.
At the Best Practices conference, Joy Hamann and TJ Winters of Concordia-San Antonio in their session Using Video in Ministry, talked about creative ways to incorporate video into your worship and church life. In their particular church they have found that video has been useful in three categories:
Announcements, 2. Testimonials, 3. Sermons. Let’s take a look at each:
You know how every church service either begins or ends with a series of announcements that a pastor reads from a sheet of paper while people fidget in their seats. Haman and Powers have turned that often boring necessity into something that parishioners look forward to. They create 2- to 3-minute videos about an upcoming event or a ministry in the church in which a representative of that event or ministry is filmed talking about how excited they are about the event or the ministry, even sometimes through song or a funny poem. Haman and Powers do not run the same video twice, even if it is for the same event, so that there is variety in the video announcements. Hamann and Winters have seen that people now look forward to the announcements in church and doing the videos ahead of time helps services to move along because they know how exactly how long the announcements will be and they do not have to worry about a speaker running to long or forgetting certain points. People who tape the announcements also are more relaxed when they are asked to do the video because they know that it can be redone, if there are any mistakes or flubs. Here is an a example of a video announcement:
Another way to use video in worship is through testimonials. So often we do not know much about the background and the lives of those in our congregation, but by filming testimonials from people who are willing to share their faith lives on tape, we can get to know each other better. These testimonials can even become part of a sermon on a particular topic or theme or they can be used simply as a way for people to be made aware of a ministry at the church that had or has a significant impact on the life of a brother or sister in Christ. Here is an example of a testimonial video:
Taking videos of the pastor’s sermon each week is a wonderful way in which a church can reach out to the community to those who are sick or homebound or otherwise unable to attend worship in person on Sunday mornings, and sermon videos are also an avenue for spreading the Gospel to those who are seeking the Lord and those who do not have a church home of their own. In many aspects in this technological, internet age, each church has in effect two congregations: the people in the pews on Sundays and those online, and putting sermons on youtube or other media outlets is the perfect start to draw someone into learning more about what a Christian means, Many pastors tell of how people have reached out to them because of something they heard that pastor say on an online sermon and how those pastors were then able to minister to those people. Here is an example of a video sermon by Pastor Bill Tucker at Concordia-San Antonio:
God is truly at work through video to fulfill the Great Commission to go ye, therefore, and preach the Gospel to every nation—even the computer nation!