We all know video is growing as an increasingly popular communication channel, but when USAToday recently (mid July 2012) used one third of their page that previously was all television scheduling to list recommended web video programs, my initial response was that it was an interesting article.
A few days later I realized that this listing of web video channels, YouTube series, and featured video programs wasn't a one-time article, but a consistent feature. This is a significant shift--including web video with mainstream television--following are some observations and advice for church communicators. We want to learn all channels of communications so that we might communicate clearly the gospel of Jesus. With that in mind, following are some comments and initial suggestions on learning video for church communicators.
Cisco’s VP for Marketing and Emerging Technologies, David Hsieh comments on the pervasive nature of video:
“Video is invading all aspects of our lives.” He says, “Today over half of all Internet traffic is video—51 percent. And based on the current trends, we predict that in the next three years over 90 percent of all Internet traffic will be video.”
Video isn’t just for entertainment anymore. It’s crossing over into all aspects of our lives. As an example, Hsieh says that he recently met with a client that works in the healthcare industry and that he learned that some hospitals are now turning to online video as a means to educate patients about how to continue their care after they leave the hospital. . . . .
It’s clear that, in modern society, people crave a quick, easy way to consume information. They don’t want to have to read big chunks of text, don’t want to have to search around for explanations and online video has positioned itself as the perfect way to provide people with that quick, easy to consume content that they crave, when and where they crave it.
How should churches respond?
No, video won't replace all other forms of communication, but it is a tool to add to our communication toolbox so that we might "be all things to all people to win some." However, once a church realizes the importance of video, the frequent response is to put up talking head videos of the senior pastor on YouTube and then announce you have a video ministry. If you want to do more, the popular perception of YouTube is that it is really simple, easy, and anybody with a catchy, funny, or inspiring enough video will have a successful video ministry.
Unfortunately, it really doesn't work that way.
I've spent a lot of time on YouTube lately trying to understand how it works and how I can make the most of it to equip and inspire church communicators. Part of that has been to study some of the popular producers and to look the advice YouTube gives on realistically how to make a video channel that will have significant impact on the audience you want to reach. I've realized that it is much, much harder and more difficult than I imagined.
At the same time, if you follow their instructions--which require a tremendous amount of time and precise, repetitive work--chances are you will create a very useful communication tool for your church.
One set of instructions is their Creator Playbook
The Creator Playbook from YouTube is a fantastic resource for creating a credible YouTube channel. Here is the link to it: http://www.youtube.com/yt/creators/playbook.html. The ebook--it's free for anyone who wants it.
The Creator Playbook has 91 pages of how-tos. The book is one of the most useful, well-written and laid out of any ebook I've seen in a long time. It is worth the time to download it simply to study the structure.
More than that, it is a reality check. If I want to use video effectively to help train church communicators (and notice I said help train, not everyone is into video and I will continue to practice what I preach on the need for multi-channel communication), it will take lots of time, work, focus, and prayer for understanding to make it work. The big and splashy aren't what count--it is learning how to do many new, repetitive, tasks: adding annotations, creating playlists, sticking to release schedules, better links, captions, descriptions--learning how to use analytics. Yet when I get past the initial, "Oh, my....how will I ever do this?" --there is also a growing excitement of how powerful the final results can be and awe of the incredible tools the Lord has given us.
How this YouTube experience applies to church communications
Success in church outreach and growth is similar to success on YouTube. There is a belief some churches that if the church prays enough (not to diminish the power of prayer and its absolute necessity) that the church will discover some magic tool that will solve all their communication challenges and have newcomers flocking to the church and members growing into mature disciples.
It usually doesn't work that way.
Church success in fully fulfilling the Great Commission (having people come to know Jesus as Savior and grow to mature disciples in Him) is not done with one flashy PowerPoint, a cool church video, an expensive outreach campaign or any other one thing. Like the work required by the YouTube Playbook, church growth in numbers and people in Christ-like maturity requires many, communication pieces done well and repeated indefinitely. Once again I am reminded that effective church communication, like many other aspects of the Christian life is "a long obedience in the same direction."
To check out my updated YouTube Channel and view over 100 FREE instructional videos for church communicators, go to: http://www.youtube.com/yvonprehn