How your Church can use YouTube to Reach New People

Last week we wrote about several ways to put videos of sermons, services, or other church events online. YouTube was the first option mentioned, and with good reason. YouTube is so much more than a place to watch funny cat videos or learn how to program your smartphone.

YouTube is a powerful player in the world of online video. It’s the number two search engine, right behind Google; so if your goal is to have your church found easily on an internet search, a presence on YouTube can really boost your visibility. Here are some tips on how to harness the power of YouTube for your church:

It’s free

YouTube is free to use at the basic level. If your church uses Gmail, then you already have a YouTube (and Google+) account – Google offers all three as one package. You can customize the layout of your channel, put your logo or other church-specific images as your avatar and header image, and even change your YouTube channel’s web address to the name of your church.

 

Options for Video Uploads

Uploading videos is also free. There is a 15-minute length limit for standard videos, but once you verify your account, you can upload videos of any length. This can enable you to put anything from a short sermon to an entire church service on YouTube in just one video.

You can also choose to have your videos public and therefore searchable; this is beneficial if you are wanting to reach new people via your videos. However, if you want more privacy, you have the option to make videos unlisted or private, which means that only people with the exact URL (web address) of the video will be able to find it or view it. You can also schedule videos for publication after they’ve been uploaded.

Live Streaming

YouTube has recently added a new feature called live streaming. This means that you can now broadcast a live event in real time. With live streaming, people can tune into your church service or event as it’s happening, instead of waiting until after the event is over and a recording has been uploaded.

 

Analytics and tracking

YouTube also offers ways to tracks views of your videos, customize your channel and your videos, and so much more on the Creator Studio dashboard. Here you can see which sermons or events are the most popular, whether more people prefer live streaming versus the recorded uploads, subscribers to your channel, and more.

 

So many options

There’s no limit to the number of videos you can have on your channel, and if you get your account verified, there’s no limit to the length of each video. You can also have multiple playlists on your channel, to sort videos according to sermon series, or mid-week versus Sunday services, or any other criteria.

Every video has an embed code, which can be used to embed the video into another website. This way, you can feature one of your own videos on your church’s website without having to have a special video player for your site. Embed codes and share links also allow other people to share your videos out on their own websites or social media.

YouTube offers a wealth of video options and tools to help you. Using this popular resource can provide your church with new ways to reach people and share your message with the world.

60+ performers, 12 nations, 8 languages, 1 song

Psalm 117: A Global Music Video

Gregory Fish, Creative Media Designer, GNPI

There are lots of projects that get me excited, but this one was a once in a lifetime opportunity. This music video is one of my proudest creative achievements to date.

You could say that it was 20 years in the making. I wrote this song from the shortest chapter in the Bible when I was in high school. My band used to play it occasionally in youth group, but we didn’t do too much with it. Years later I ended up recording it myself in a home studio project, but I didn’t really like how it came out. Now fast forward to a couple of years ago.

I work as the video editor for the U.S. office of GNPI (www.gnpi.org). We have video-savvy people in strategic places all over the world. My fun little song says, “Praise the Lord all you nations…” It seemed like the perfect time to use the song to the fullest potential, using the vast network of international producers now at my disposal! I pitched the idea to our creative team and then to the executive team. It was a big project. Some called it EPIC! After nearly a year of planning, six months of work from 12 nations and eight languages around the world, this music video is now being released!

We hope it brings smiles to many faces and a small glimpse of Revelation 7:9, “…a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.”

 
If you like the video, would you help us by sharing it with your friends? We’ve also created a behind the scenes video with details about those who participated in the project. If you’d like to see more of that backstory, check out this short video:

5 Must-See Easter Videos

Easter will be here before you know it. A lot of churches and ministries have had their Easter programs planned since last year. But there are probably a lot of you who haven’t quite finished the planning; or something fell through and you’re looking for a last-minute video for your Easter event or Sunday school class. Christian Media Magazine has rounded up five Easter video resources that you can use.

Skit Guys

The Skit Guys are known for both their humorous and serious truth-filled Christian videos.

Their “Our Risen Savior” package includes videos, motion backgrounds, sermon outlines, and more. This package alone can meet all your church’s Easter program needs.

And on the more humorous side, here’s an “Awkward Easter Invite” video.

Igniter Media

Igniter Media provides quality videos on all different subjects, from invites to full stories. They offer a yearly subscription, or you can purchase videos a la carte.

Worship House Media

Worship House Media is a hub for a lot of different Christian media producers. You can find Skit Guys on here, as well as others like Hyper Pixels Media and Igniter Media, and many others. There’s a huge selection of Easter-themed videos to choose from.

Rethink Worship

Rethink Worship is another site where you can find a large selection of Easter-themed videos to fit any kind of service or program.

GodTube

On GodTube you can find everything from amateur videos to covers of popular songs, as well as the official channels for Christian artists and performers.

We hope that these video selections will help your church meet all of its ministry needs this Easter season!

Do you have other videos or resources you’d like to add to this list?

Have you seen the videos at Ministry Pass yet?

Ministry Pass has been around for only a couple of years, but founder Justin Trapp knows that he is helping people and doing exactly what God has called him to do. Ministry Pass is a website that provides a library of digital resources for churches and pastors – everything from worship slides and promotional bundles to teaching content for sermons. They offer content bundles for adults, youth groups, and kids, and they offer free online trainings and webinars, too.

Justin, who has experience both as a pastor and as the CEO of a marketing company, realized that there was a need for affordable ministry resources for small churches. The Ministry Pass website, as well as the minister’s conference they just launched this year, are specifically targeted to help churches of less than 300 people to thrive and grow.

Justin finds great fulfillment in helping other church leaders do their jobs better. He encourages designers and filmmakers to pursue their craft and their business. He also encourages the creative designers to invest in developing their business skills – to really grow your ministry, the business side needs to be handled just as well as the creative side. This is a great time for Christian entrepreneurs, he says.

Listen to the full interview here!

Visit MinistryPassOffer.com to receive a discount of $10 off a month.

Join the discussion!

The unique vision of Dan Stevers, popular Christian filmmaker

Dan Stevers has always had a passion for the visual arts. He started out studying fine art in college, and then moved towards graphic design. But it was while he was in college that he felt God nudging him to volunteer for video work and Christian media at his church.

That’s what started Dan on a new career path – creating high quality films for churches and ministries.

Every project comes from a personal place in his life. He doesn’t just jump on every good idea – he feels that a deep personal connection is what helps give his videos strength. Even now, he still feels insecurity as he makes his films. But he knows that God has called him to this, and that videos have a lot of impact and offer a chance to influence people and change their lives.

He encourages other artists to be vulnerable in their work and to tell their own story.

Listen to the full interview here!

You can find Dan Stevers online at www.danstevers.com, use coupon code CMM15 for 15% off through the end of February.

Join the discussion on our forum!

4 questions and 2 minutes would mean a lot to Christian Media Magazine

Here at Christian Media Magazine, our mission is to partner with churches, ministries, and Christian leaders who are advancing the Kingdom of God and making a difference in the world through media. We want to provide you with digital tools to help you with your mission.

We want to provide not just tools, but the best, most effective tools. And so that’s where we need your help. We have a survey for you. Don’t worry – it’s short, only four questions. We truly want to provide you, our loyal readers and fellow Kingdom builders, with the tools that you really need.

Please take a moment and review this quick survey. Your answers will help us to deliver the information, products, and services that you really want! Also, once you finish the survey, you’ll be able to see which answers were the most popular (don’t worry, the survey answers are anonymous. Your privacy is important to us).

Thank you for your participation, and we look forward to serving you in 2016!

Take the survey here!

Enhancing or Hindering God’s Word

By David Jordan

Your Tech, Media, Sound and Lighting Team can either enhance or hinder God’s Word. The main objective of the tech crew is to enhance what is taking place in your service, not distract from it.

Where are they?

The majority of the time, the only time tech teams are noticed is when something goes wrong. A microphone that is not turned on when needed and a video that will not play are just a couple things that can happen to hinder God’s Word. Keeping mistakes and/or problems to a minimum is very important to the flow of the service. Having a trouble free service is the tech team’s main objective. As I always say, the tech team must be doing things right if no one knows they are there. When no one realizes the tech team is there is when they are enhancing and not hindering God’s Word!

Communication

There are several things to do to keep your tech team enhancing God Word. Communication, Training, & Maintenance, are the three main things that you can do to keep your team enhancing God’s Word. The tech team and pastors need to be on the same page on what is going to take place during the service. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to communicate with each other prior to the service on what is going to take place. If nothing else the tech team needs to know if there is anything taking place that does not normally take place during the service.

Training

Something as simple as knowing what microphone people will be using can be the difference in enhancing or hindering. If a microphone is not on when needed, could change the mood of the entire service.

Keeping all the microphones on at all times is not the answer. This can cause more problems, from loss of system gain to your system feeding back easily. Only keep on the microphones that are in use to minimize problems.

Training your techs on how your system operates is a vital key to your tech team enhancing God’s Word. If you are the technical director or you are tasked with training the tech team there are some simple things to do to make your team not noticed. When training, train as if the person or persons you are training will take over your position. They need to know everything you know to be successful.

If an emergency arises where you cannot be there, your tech team should be able to still enhance and not hinder the service.

Documentation

Simple things can make a difference like labeling the soundboard, microphones and cables. Using a log book to communicate info to all techs is a good idea to make sure things get passed on to all. Keeping system info, cheat sheets and so on beside the sound board at easy access will pay off. Keep things as simple as possible. Do not set your team up for failure.

If you do not have the knowledge to advance your team to where you need them, seek out others methods for them to gain knowledge. There are conferences; geared toward church tech teams, some of them are even free. You can even find training videos on line that are free. Also there is a great resource that you can join for free on Facebook, Church Sound – Media Tech’s. Just send a request to join. Use whatever resources you can find to help enhance your tech/media team.

Maintenance

Maintaining your system is also a very vital part of not hindering God’s Word. Doing a simple sound check prior to your service can minimize problems. During your sound check, make sure to check all microphones, projectors, videos and anything you will be playing through your system, to make sure everything is working properly. Check and or change batteries in all wireless microphones. Check any lighting that will be used. Many problems can be found and fixed during sound checks. Broken cables should be either fixed/replaced, thrown out or marked if not fixed so they will not be used until they are fixed.

Performing simple preventative maintenance on your equipment can keep your system running with fewer problems. Just keeping all your equipment clean can help too. Replacing bulbs prior to them burning out, will keep everything lit up. Changing filters in your projector and changing the bulb prior to its hours being up will prolong the life of your projector. I only named a few things. Not maintaining your equipment can set you and your team up for failure.

Applying these simple things can keep any tech/media teams from any size church enhancing God’s Word rather than hindering.

Seven Tips for Church Media Production

By Todd Hampson

Source: ChurchMediaBlog.com

Quality and excellence glorify God. All projects have limitations. Here are some ways to work within those limitations and still deliver a final product that you and your team are proud of. As I’ve worked with church and para-church media teams I have seen many similar pain points arise. Here are seven key principles that will help any ministry media producer or team avoid these pain points and operate with more excellence and efficiency.

1. Have a system
A good friend of mine got a job at a very large church where things were done with excellence but was shocked when he found out on his first day that there was no system in place for initiating or tracking creative projects. They had a key employee that got the ball rolling on any request their team was given. The problem with that system is that it’s 100% reliant on one individual’s talent and work ethic. If this person were to get sick (probably due to burn out), or leave for another job, a dysfunctional mess would appear in the wake.

2. Over-clarify deliverables and details
Too many problems arise when a brief conversation about a creative project takes place or a creative meeting concludes without a follow up clarification. It is wise and efficient to carefully layout all details of a project including milestones, responsible parties, and if anything is needed from the client (ie. lead pastor, children’s pastor, whomever is requesting the service) to get started. I recommend having a short (1-2 page) agreement that people sign (or at least email saying it’s approved) just to make sure that you as the producer fully understand what’s expected of you. There is a tendency to get too comfortable and assume everyone is on the same page. This also gives you an opportunity as a producer to make sure all of the details of the project are realistic based on time, budget, and expectations.

3. Clearly I.D. milestones for all phases
Producers need to develop a firm understanding of the differences between development, pre-production, production, post-production (and even promotion/collateral). It’s also very worthwhile to take a meeting to carefully explain these to key staff who may be requesting creative projects. Because most creative ministry projects have tight budgets and tight timeframes, it’s very producer-friendly to break down functions by phases so that you can clearly point to approvals that are “point-of-no-return” (PONR) milestones. For example, when we produce animated shorts that have a specific budget and time frame we make it very clear to our clients that no timing changes will be possible once the animatic is approved. The animatic locks the timing on our edit and we create assets, split up scenes, and time out the lip sync based on the client approved animatic. The key here is clear communication. Don’t assume anything. Make sure your client knows all PONR milestones.

4. Recognize development for what it is
Don’t let someone who’s anxious to move forward pressure you or your team into moving into pre-production before development is complete. If you are not clear on the concept, purpose, script, storyline, characters, world, art direction, or tone of a project it’s still in development. Make it clear that you or your team can’t move into pre-production until you are sure development is completed. It’s common for teams to blend development and pre-production together, but if you are not careful you will waste valuable time on unneeded storyboards, video shoots, script writing, voice recording or other asset creation when you find that development was left unfinished.

5. Give more time to pre-production than you think it needs
It is very common to assume that the bulk of the work is in production. This is simply not true (except for maybe traditional 2d hand drawn animation). Most creative pipelines (including graphic design, motion graphics, and video production) require just as much work in preproduction (and sometimes post, see below) as they do in production. Mentally, we give more weight to production because that’s where the magic really comes together, but be sure to carefully account for pre-production in time and budget as well as expectations. Production loses out if assets are rushed or minimized in preproduction.

6. Make sure you have to right people in the right phases (switch bus seats if needed) 
Many creative teams are made up of people that came on board at different seasons of a ministry’s growth. Many have learned new skills or have become more clear on their core creative strengths. It is very worthwhile to take a careful look at the make up of your team (in terms of skill sets) and make sure everyone is in the right seat on the bus. Many creatives are multi-talented and have a hard time seeing their own core strengths. It’s great to try everything, but to be excellent and efficient, it’s a healthy exercise to evaluate your team, not to compare their talent, but to make sure that you as the leader have them in a position where they will thrive. (BTW, I have a book and a free workbook that teams of artists can use to identify their calling and core creative strengths.)

7. Don’t under estimate post-production
I can’t understate this. So often we feel the surge of relief when the tough work of production is done, but don’t underestimate post! It’s easy to let production deadlines slip because some view post as a bit of a buffer, but it’s valuable to build adequate time and budget into your culture and systems regarding post-production. The last thing you want to do is have to pull an all-nighter or deliver something that lacks polish because post-production didn’t get the time or budget it deserved.

I hope these tips will help you as a producer or creative team member. One last word of advice. When introducing any of these concepts to your team or your leadership, be sure to be gracious and patient since the process and terminology may be a bit foreign to them. Feel free to send them a link to this post as a primer to your discussion with them.

 

Image from Lightstock.com

10 Common Questions About Using Screens in Worship – Part 2

By Len Wilson

Source: LenWilson.us

No matter what happens at seminars and conferences on images in worship, when it comes to Q&A time, it’s always the same basic set of questions. These are the basic concepts that everyone needs to know in order to use screens more effectively in worship. Consider this a crash course on screen use in your church. You can find Questions 1 – 5 here.

 

Q: What if I can’t find the image I need online?

A: Learn to take a photograph.

You can survive a little while surfing Google, but you’ll hit a wall quickly, not to mention find it difficult to explain to others why you’re surfing inappropriate websites. There are a lot of great, free sites out there. An amazing website called Blue Vertigo keeps a list of all of them.

Also, there are some good, royalty-free resource sites available. Subscription sites such as photospin.com offer an unlimited database for a single yearly fee. Or, consider a la carte websites such as istockphoto.com, which offer nice photos for as little as $1 each.

In addition, flickr has an advanced search feature that allows the user to search images from the royalty-free Creative Commons database.

But, the best solution is: Learn to take a good photograph. You’ll also get what you need if you’re shooting it yourself.

 

Q: How to we deal with copyright?

A: Sidestep it.

I don’t mean ignore it, unless, as Jason Moore says, you want to start a full-time prison ministry. By sidestep, I mean don’t even bother with anything that might have a copyright on it. Make your own stuff, or find royalty-free resources online on the websites mentioned above.

Make sure you have the CVLI license, which allows users to show major studio motion pictures in worship. The fair use argument is weak; don’t use it.

 

Q: How do we avoid burnout for our best people?

A: Move toward a manageable production schedule with limits.

Name your best three or four volunteers as producers. These people are not necessarily the best implementers, but the ones who understand your vision the best. Set up a schedule for them in one of two ways. If you operate on a week-to-week basis, use the calendar to name a weekend of the month that is theirs to run. This gives them ownership and sets a manageable service expectation. If you plan worship in series, plan schedules so that each producer is on point for a mutually agreed number of series per year.

Treat the producer as the leader of the volunteer crew. At first the producer will be the one loading images and pushing buttons. Over time, the goal is that the producer will work with a graphic artist, video specialist, and so on.

 

Q: We use volunteers and we’re hit or miss. How can we get consistent quality using just volunteers?

A: Develop design standards.

Create a style guide for your designs, which creates standardization. Do you capitalize pronouns for God? Do you use punctuation on screen? Identify these grammatical elements. In addition, name what is acceptable visually. Do you always use black or white type, or is colored type acceptable? What fonts or font families are okay? How about color schemes, use of gradients, shadows, and so on?

Some of these decisions are flexible. Some I’ll get on a soapbox about, such as use of sans serif fonts, avoidance of punctuation on screen, and the use of a reduced color palette. Watch the graphics package of a favorite television program or product brand and you’ll see the consistency of fonts, colors, and styles used.

 

Q: Producing a new service every weekend is simply too much work. How can we simplify the process?

A: Create themes and variations on themes.

Don’t try to create 52 unique productions a year plus everything midweek, too. Develop groupings around sermon series or liturgical seasons. This reduces the load to six to eight primary productions a year. For each grouping, create a primary theme and a few variations, in still and/or motion form.

While Creative Director at a church in Texas I identified a hand-written invitation on letterhead as the primary metaphor for a series on stewardship and giving. I produced a primary image that represented the series, in high res and screen res form. This appeared in posters, on bulletin covers, on the website, and so on. I slightly modified this primary image for each week of the series. Then I created two coordinating motion graphic backgrounds for the song portion of worship. These videos are simple dissolves and transitions between close up shots of envelopes and letters.

Even on a small budget and with a volunteer workforce, it is possible to create quality imagery and use your screen effectively to enhance worship and share God’s story in inspiring new ways.

 

10 Common Questions About Using Screens in Worship – Part 1

By Len Wilson

Source: LenWilson.us

No matter what happens at seminars and conferences on images in worship, when it comes to Q&A time, it’s always the same basic set of questions. These are the basic concepts that everyone needs to know in order to use screens more effectively in worship. Consider this a crash course on screen use in your church.

Q: How can we afford to use a projection screen every week?

A: Separate worship screen expenses into manageable accounts.

What’s behind the “can’t afford it” question? Let’s break it down a bit. Don’t ask me to do your taxes, but basically, there are three types of expenses: a) capital, or extra-budget acquisitions; b) cost of goods, or money spent on production; and c) operating, or overhead. For the sake of argument, as one department in a larger organization, let’s reduce screen use operating expenses to wages – paying someone to create the images. So we have: upfront equipment, production costs, and labor.

For churches getting started with screens in worship, the concerns are mostly capital. This may require a donor or other special consideration. If you’ve already gotten an equipment setup, you need to pay for image acquisition and/or artists to do the work. Starting with pre-produced images is relatively inexpensive. Allocate $100-150 a month for production right away, and begin to set aside funds for ongoing capital upgrades.

Ultimately, you may want paid production staff. This indeed requires a much greater investment. But you don’t need paid staff to do good stuff. Read on.

 

Q: We have screens but just use them for song lyrics. How do we begin to do more with them?

A: Experiment with the screen as a canvas for art.

“You’ll love the screens, Myrtle Bea. You can’t read the book anymore anyway.” Many churches initially justify their screens in worship according to what my former partner in ministry Jason Moore calls the “big piece of paper” defense. We appeal to personal benefits for the longtime saints of the church, and the grandkid argument (“It will make your grandkids want to come to church”) doesn’t work as well as the big piece of paper defense.

While transitory, the argument is right – using screens instead of books helps us see lyrics and spoken word elements better, draws faces upward, and generally increases worship participation.

Of course, screens are not a print but a visual medium – an entirely different communication system. Many churches intuitively get this after a while, and begin to experiment with art.

Most art falls into one of two types: representative and abstract.

Typically a church will start with representative art, or what we might describe as illustrated text. We craft our sermons and our services as before, and then look for opportunities to illustrate. Usual suspects include Renaissance era paintings, nature footage, church-y artifacts and pictures of people. Eventually this becomes tiresome or insufficient to capture a concept. Not knowing what else to do, churches swing to the other end of the spectrum and project abstract “holy blobs of color.” Abstract, amorphous shapes, lines and bursts of color morph across the spectrum of design, and make some in worship nauseous.

Perhaps blobs are meaningful to some, but it seems the primary benefit is their supposed lack of interference with the “foreground” of text. This in itself is telling – we refer to text as foreground and image as background. Even with such lowered expectations, much of the time blobs fail the lack of interference test. Neither approach gets past the AV Mentality, which sees the screen as background for the main feature, text.

A third way is interpretation—images based in reality but not directly illustrative of our concepts. This is the essence of metaphor. We connote rather than denote. We approach an idea through a comfortable side door. We don’t illustrate the kingdom of heaven with pearly gates but we interpret it with a kernel of wheat. This is Jesus’ method. It’s visual and it works.

 

Q: We have screens but they just seem distracting. How can they enhance worship in a way that feels natural?

A: Move from illustrating propositions to telling stories.

As hinted above, when our main concept(s) in worship are propositional—when they seek to prove arguments, as a scientist making a case—we’re reduced to ornaments and illustrations. Such an approach is indeed distracting from a good case, like histrionics in a courtroom. Making use of the screen leads us to re-evaluating our entire communication strategy in worship. Is the goal of worship to make a case, like a lawyer? Whether theologically right or left, most churches are still quite scientific in their worship design.

Instead of thinking of the screen as proposition illustration, think of it as story opportunity. Many in ministry associate art and story with beauty, in a negative way: myths and fantastical tales that are nice ornaments to the real work of systematic theology. Yet in some ways story is more reality than abstract theological proposition.

Consider the Pixar film Up. The crux of the film’s narrative is a beautiful scene near the end when the man, after one last moment remembering the beauty of his longtime marriage, looks around his house and realizes he’s living in the past. His story is literally weighing him down and preventing him from saving his new, young friend. He pushes the big pieces of furniture out the door, the balloon-hoisted house lifts off, and they are saved. The clip preaches well on a variety of topics, from living in the present to accepting God’s grace to dealing with grief.

Effective use of screens in worship means a reevaluation of our very communication approach in worship. Are we more comfortable with propositions, or can we (re)learn to let stories inform us as Christ followers? The distraction question is symptomatic. The real answer is to start learning communication strategy from the visual storytellers of our culture.

 

Q: How much is too much? Some Sundays, we feel assaulted by a thousand random pictures.

A: Create “dynamic stained glass.”

I visited a church once to lead a seminar. The host proudly showed me his PowerPoint file from the previous Sunday. In it he had 75 slides to punctuate the sermon, every major sentence animated with flying “word art.” Wham! Boom! Pow! Those poor worshipers.

Less is more. This is a fundamental value of screen use.

Find a core image, hopefully metaphorical, and build your service around this common theme. Some variation of this image will be your ongoing visual representation, and will stay on the screen throughout the service, as if you were in a cathedral. The only difference is that screen art is dynamic, not static.

 

Q: We cannot afford professional designers. How can we create non-cheesy images ?

A: Discover the power of references.

The secret ingredient to professional artists and designers everywhere is references. Biopics of Jackson Pollock flinging paint in his Florida room obscure the daily task of working in a culture of design. Most artists don’t work in brilliant, tortured isolation; they look at other artists. They keep browser bookmarks handy to reference for inspiration. This is standard protocol.

Some recent favorite reference sites include FubizThe Inspiration RoomBefore After Magazine, and Book Cover Archive.

When you visit these sites, don’t copy and paste. Pay attention to individual elements within items that strike you, such as font choice and placement, color scheme, use of metaphor, composition, and so on.

Say, for example, you want to use a water image for baptism but you want to avoid using somebody’s party photo album on Google images. Instead, go to one of these sites and look for ways others represent water. Use these concepts as inspiration for your own look.

Do this, and you’re on your way to becoming a designer.