You can move—or distract—your audience with video. The motion picture can help you drive home a point, or drive aimlessly into oblivion.
I’ve seen churches make good use of video, and not so good use. I’ve watched the searing story of a faith-filled church member who was dying from a terminal illness. And I’ve sat though a pointless screening of a clip from a Hollywood sequel.
So, how can you use film and video to enhance a sermon, talk, lesson or seminar? Here a few tips.
1. Use the medium for its strengths. Film and video combine pictures and sound to draw in the audience. So, use video to depict a scenario that adds visual and audio meaning, or evokes an emotion, or provides context. Don’t use video just to add a video component.
2. Show the right length. What’s the right running time? Just enough to tell the story, make a point, or evoke the emotion. Then stop. Sometimes that means 30 seconds. Sometimes it means 30 minutes.
3. Let the film speak for itself. Resist the temptation to translate it or interpret it for your audience. Let your people think. Let the Holy Spirit work in them. Jesus rarely interpreted his parables. He usually let them stand on their own. Sometimes a film’s message and impact are all you need, without sermonizing at all.
4. Invite your audience to unpack the film. Show a clip, then pose a good question for people to discuss with someone next to them. This allows everyone to reflect, talk and find individual meaning. These “pair share” conversations work with any size group, from two to 2,000 and more.
5. Use good stuff. “Good” means it’s captivating, surprising, related to your message, and memorable. Hollywood movie clips, though slick, are often overworked, predictable and forgettable. And on-line Christian stuff is all-too-often hokey, stilted and just embarrassing. So, choose carefully. Create your own videos, using the true stories of people in your community. And try the powerful true stories in Group’s new Lifetree Film Clips.
6. Stay legal. Most pre-recorded DVDs are generally restricted to home use only. Know and abide by copyright laws for public exhibition in venues such as churches. Read details here for permitted uses. Many churches also buy a license from CVLI.
Move your people. Use film carefully.
Hey Thom, glad to see the film clips of Lifetree available. Always such great stuff. I’ll take a set!
While I would like to hoard these clips, I am sure someone else can use them more. Will the LifeTree Film Clips be available from now on? How often do they come out?
Thanks, Mark. Yes, Lifetree Film Clips DVDs are available now and in the future. They represent some of the best short films that are featured every week in Lifetree Cafe venues across the country. Six different films are available now. Others will be released every six months or so. Keep an eye on Group.com for current titles. And you can see a sample clip from each title here: http://search.group.com/search?p=Q&w=lifetree+film+clips&image.x=27&image.y=24
Thom, This is really great news! I assume the average length depends on the topic? Are the previews available with the clip? I can see the previews being a great teaser!
Mark, the Lifetree titles usually break the video content into multiple clips, each lasting just a few minutes. You’re free to use each short segment singly or all the segments together. And each title has accompanying discussion questions and Bible references.
The preview samples are not on the DVDs, but available on Group.com. You can grab them from there to promote your sessions.
Incredible! This is great! Very well thought out!
I find video clips extremely helpful in bringing out conversation and if done well, can bring people to share subjects that were not on my radar – but on theirs. A great way to connect and share Christ in a real way! I’d appreciate a set for future such conversations.
A well edited video clip can get the message home faster and more cleanly than most other forms of communication. Good points–Good stuff
Thanks again Thom. So true! This can be used well and enhance the message or completely distract. It needs to be connected to careful thought every time. Thanks for the reminder. Keep them coming.
Thanks, Thom! You can never go wrong with Group! I’m a “Group-ie”! Elise
Great stuff…especially the legal/copyright info!
it’s amazing how people connect to media! i love your take on ministry, thom!
I use Video Clips most every week. I have found that the visual aspect just helps tie everything together. The children leave with a visual impression in their mind and I have found they think about that video sometimes for weeks. I Love Group Publishing and the resources they make available for Children’s Pastors. I would love to have Clip DVD I can promise you, it WILL be used !!!!!!
Great info…and great reminders!
I was just asked to oversee and revamp our children’s ministry. This is a great article. The video clips would be very helpful!
Hey Thom, This blog post came at just the right moment. We are beginning to use video clips more in our services for various applications from sermon illustrations to announcements. Some we are producing ourselves but most are clips from movies or have also gotten from companies that produce clips for sermon illustrations. Great info to keep in mind when selecting clips.
Excellent tips for using video. I actually do videography myself and particularly enjoy putting together “Video Verses” and motivational messages (see my YouTube channel for examples). Thom is right on with his tips. Make it REAL! A great resource for clips on just about any topic or location that you can use to create your own videos: http://www.videoblocks.com
Great resource and appreciate you putting it out there!!
I love video clips and think they add a degree of spice to a sermon, but like any spice a little goes a long way and if you overdo it, the spice can overtake the dish (sermon). Great idea’s here!!
Love these tips! And I’m definitely a fan of these particular clips! Thrilled that they are out there to use as illustrations/teaching helps.
Great tips! I love being able to use media with the kids in our ministry!
Great tips for something I have had some success and some failure with.