Small-group video studies have been around for a long time—even since VHS players. For many years, though, video Bible studies had one major drawback: cost. I remember buying Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God video curriculum and spending $200! On top of that investment, I then had to buy workbooks for each participant. Ouch!
In 2002, I was exposed to the 40 Days of Purpose campaign that Saddleback created. As I watched the videos, I had a paradigm-shifting revelation: It's possible for churches to make their own video studies. Plus, it can be more affordable than store-bought curriculum, and it's custom-tailored to your church!
Soon after, I became a pastor at LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, Oklahoma, where I worked with small groups. Two times a year we created our own video Bible study and distributed it to our small-group leaders. Every time we launched a new video study, we had more new leaders step up, more people who joined those groups, and more lives changed through our groups.
As we saw the success of these studies, I was given the go ahead to provide weekly video curriculum for my leaders. LifeChurch is a large, well-resourced church, but at that time, the idea of creating and distributing video curriculum every week seemed like a tall order. Even so, my team and I jumped in and got to work. Over the next year, we created 50 weeks of video curriculum! We made plenty of mistakes, but more importantly, we learned a lot.
Make Your Own Video Studies
Today I’m the Senior Pastor of a much smaller church. We don’t have anywhere near the resources LifeChurch has, but I’ve continued making sure our leaders have custom-made video curriculum. We've learned to make our own quality curriculum very affordably, and you can benefit from what we've discovered.
Step 1: Commit to excellence.
It's relatively easy to make a video Bible study because technology is getting cheaper and better every year. But making great video curriculum is a little more challenging. The first thing you need to decide is that you aren’t going to settle for a shaky, low resolution product with bad audio. You need to commit yourself and your team to excellence. So go ahead, make that decision now.
Step 2: Refuse to violate copyright.
Tragically, churches are notorious for violating copyright laws. Let me be clear: violating copyright is stealing. You would not steal money to produce your video curriculum, so do not steal content. Make sure you have the rights to use and duplicate everything in your curriculum: video content, still images, and music. A good rule of thumb is this: if you have any doubts about whether or not you have the rights to use and duplicate something, you probably don’t! Your integrity and your church’s integrity matter.
A great resource for content to improve your videos without copyright infringement is Videoblocks.com. There are amazing video clips, sound effects, and music that your church can use. There is a small subscription fee, but it's cheaper than paying penalties and fines for copyright infringement.
Step 3: Build a team of videographers and editors.
While having a video producer on staff is nice, it’s not necessary. My church doesn’t have a staff person dedicated to videos. Rather, we have a team of people made up of staff and volunteers who can edit videos. We have one person who can do most simple video projects well. We have another who is a wizard when it comes to 3D animation and after effects. We have another person who is really artistic and can create videos that connect with the heart. And we have another person who can shoot better footage than the rest of the team put together. Each of these people uses personally owned video equipment and software. Not every person works on every project. Instead, we ask ourselves, Who is the best person for this particular project?