Lights, Cellphone Camera, Action!

contributed by Melinda Shunk, Children’s Ministry Coordinator

Nick Garrison, the youth director at Maumelle UMC, was in a planning meeting with his senior pastor a year ago discussing how they could get the whole church involved in a spring cleaning of the church grounds. The suggestion was made that they could make a video of what needs to be cleaned and what doesn’t need cleaning. Nick knew it had to be comedic to get people’s attention. He quickly set forth recording a video that had him grabbing items that needed to be sent to the trash and others that clearly should not be thrown in the trash! They used only jesters with no sound, and it became very slapstick in nature. Nick put it together and posted on the church Facebook page. It was a hit. People were sharing the post on their pages, and the pastor used it to invite congregation members to sign up during announcements on the screens in their worship space.

After the debut of the first very simple video, the staff knew they were on to something. Together they discussed that the positive feedback from the first video was just the beginning. Kayla Tullos, the Children’s Minister at Maumelle UMC, knew this would be a great way to introduce Feast and Family Table as it was going to be a new Wednesday night program. Parents needed to see what they would be making time for in their family’s busy week. Kayla and Nick joined their beginner level video skills and created another promotional video for Kayla to use to promote Feast and Family Table. It had a little comedy and at the end of the video posted exact times and dates. The video clip promotion worked again!

The video creation duo extended its acting cast to the entire church staff. Kayla needed trunks for an upcoming trunk or treat event. She and Nick had different staff members playing different roles as they went “running in fear from Kayla who was carrying the sign-up sheet” to get people to volunteer their car. It had always been a struggle to get enough vehicles to volunteer their trunks. Before the video, she would have about 15 volunteers, and after this year’s video recruitment for Trunk or Treat she had 40! Nick says people don’t always take time to read a big write up about a volunteer need, but they will watch the 30-second video. Kayla and Nick continued to make promotion videos about Trunk or Treat, like where and when it would be held. They knew the promotions were working when people who were not from their church would come up to them in a store and comment on the video they saw on Facebook last week.

The more they made the videos they more they learned how to do it better.
They found that by asking congregational members to be actors, they had more views and shares on each video. Having staff and members in videos helped others get to know the leaders in the church. It made it easy for members to invite their neighbors when they would share a video event on their social media page. Kayla feels that video sharing on social media lets people know exactly what they are getting invited to as well as the culture of the church. They have found it to be a very connectional resource for all ages in their church. They have not only used the videos for promoting events, but for sharing about stewardship and highlighting specific ministries.

Kayla and Nick’s belief is that no matter the church size and tech-savvy abilities any church can make a video. They shoot all of their videos on their cellphones! Yes, a cellphone; so, reach in your pocket. You don’t have to invest in expensive equipment. They recommend and use the iPhone X and iMovie and Video Leap. They suggest that videos are no longer than two minutes for Facebook or a church website. Instagram is best for the 20 and under church members, so those videos must be 30 seconds. They use the videos during announcements at the traditional and contemporary worship service. If you don’t have a screen in your worship space, then no worries. Nick recommends your church get the Church App with Sub splash. It is a subscription-based program that sends a text of the church announcements (video included) to a member’s phone once their geo-tracking shows they are in the church building — no need to have a screen projection because it is right in their hand or pocket.

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