I have fond memories of my first opportunity to help produce a professional, video-driven Bible study—now that I’m looking back. During the actual filming of the study, however, I was more than a little intimidated.
It was a great opportunity. Our team was working with David Platt to produce a Bible study complement to his book Follow Me. We had the privilege of working with Dr. Platt over the course of two days in downtown Birmingham, and what I remember most from the experience was the professionalism of everyone involved.
Everything was organized. Every detail had been checked, re-checked, and confirmed. The venue that had been booked as the video set was both intimate and artistic. The audience was enthusiastic and appreciative. I can still remember standing behind the control board as the director gave instructions to four separate camera operators through wireless headsets—all while Dr. Platt delivered several powerful messages and taught the Scriptures with authority.
That was an incredible experience. In fact, it’s still the gold standard by which I judge any video Bible study I encounter.
Video-driven Bible studies aren’t new, of course. They’ve been available for quite some time—even back to the days of VCRs and video cassettes. Given recent advances in technology, however, coupled with the increasingly visual nature of modern society, it’s hard to find a curriculum option that doesn’t include a video element of one kind or another. But as I’ve hinted, not all video Bible studies are created equal.
So, how do you know which studies are worthwhile? Here are three factors you can use to determine whether a video Bible study is worth your time—and worth the extra expense.
The first thing you need to check when evaluating a video Bible study is the overall quality of the video itself. This is often referred to as the production value of a video project.
Because video is so popular, several publishers have taken to adding low-quality video elements to their studies simply to increase marketability—often in the form of a brief commentary from the study author, or perhaps a compilation of people describing the benefits of the material. These additions, however, rarely increase the actual effectiveness of the study. After all, YouTube clips may work for an effective icebreaker activity, but they rarely have any connection with transformational Bible studies.
When it comes to video, the old adage typically strikes true: You get what you pay for. Bible studies with a high level of production value will usually include these elements:
- Multiple cameras and camera angles. Staring at a person’s face from a single-camera shot gets old pretty quickly. Multiple cameras provide a much more interesting visual experience.
- Professional sets and lighting. The “where” matters a great deal in a successful video shoot. Look for curriculum options that include interesting locations and professional-looking backgrounds.
- Clear audio. There’s nothing more annoying than attempting to watch a video that you can’t hear very well—or that includes a lot of extra noises, blips, and static. Professional video crews know how to capture audio in a way that’s both clear and pleasant.
- At least 10 minutes per session. If you’re going to pay for a video element in your Bible study, make sure it’s worth the money. A five-minute blurb from the author will rarely be worth your time.