And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

Breaking down the barriers to in-house video promos and testimonials

People and a plan—according to Ken Dekker (a self-taught AV expert and technology volunteer at New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois), those are the two required elements for successfully using in-house videos as a promotional tool for small groups. Challenges can and do arise, Dekker added, but if a church has the right people in place and is committed to the video ministry plan, other obstacles can be overcome.

Think Like Joshua

When Joshua had to lead the people into the Promised Land, he knew he couldn't just herd everyone over the border and hope for the best. Instead, he chose two reputable, skilled men to conduct a little reconnaissance and let Joshua know if it was safe to proceed. Starting a video ministry to produce small-group promos and testimonials is not all that different.

Finding Key People

Before the first footage is shot, a church has to find people who are willing and able (as in God-enabled) to serve in this ministry. Just because a person likes to shoot home video of his child's every waking moment doesn't necessarily mean he's qualified to start and run the church's video ministry.

However, having a passion to enhance congregational life through the use of video technology, when combined with proper training and faithful congregational support (prayer, financial, encouragement), will help get this ministry off to a solid start.

Training Key People

Dekker, who started out in church video ministry after attending a local cable TV volunteer training class, said that providing training for volunteers is crucial. The worst thing a church can do is grab the nearest member with a handi-cam and ask him to film an endless list of people answering the same question: "Why is your small group important to you?" Even with editing, the "talking head" format will quickly overwhelm any heartfelt message delivered by the speaker.

Fortunately, training is readily available. "There are so many training opportunities out there," Dekker added. "When I took that cable training, I picked the teacher's brain endlessly and gained so much knowledge from that free class. Then there are community college classes in video production and editing. And don't overlook your high school students. These kids may already have some video skills your church can tap into. Mine that talent."

In addition, churches like Granger Community Church in Indiana offer workshops and conferences on using AV media in various ministries—mainly through their Wired Churches organization ( Dekker said he attended a Granger workshop about ten years ago as he was beginning to explore video production in church. "It was incredible," he explained. "They are a church that is so willing to share. Their motto is something like, 'Don't plagiarize, customize. Borrow it, change it to fit your church, and use it!'" Even ten years later, Dekker continues to rely on Granger for inspiration, trends, and techniques that will help him improve the video ministry at New Life.

Lead Like Joshua

With his reconnaissance done, Joshua prepared to lead the people into the Promised Land, according to God's plan for them. The night before Joshua's conquest of Jericho, the angel of the LORD appeared to him, and Joshua's response was twofold: he fell on his face and worshipped the LORD and asked, "What do you command of your servant?" (Joshua 5:14). Good question!

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