E-zekiel.com is Church Website Software.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Church websites for moving ministry.
Churches use Web videos to teach and to reach.
By Jason Otis
If you’ve been in church life for awhile, you might remember “missionary slide shows” of days gone by. That’s when missionaries came in from the field, set up a slide carousel in a church’s fellowship hall and clicked their way through the images of their work for the Lord.
That concept hasn’t changed. Christians still want to show how the Lord is at work in their missions and ministries. The use of Internet-based video and audio technology, however, has opened new avenues to communication, starting with the church’s call to reach and to teach.
At Countryside Christian Center in Clearwater, Florida, sermons aren’t always “all talk.” Sometimes, they’re partly video. The church – which has a membership numbering in the thousands – uses video technology to enhance the pastor’s message while breaking up the pace of the service and keeping the congregation engaged. That’s agenda item #1: use Web videos to aid teaching during worship services.
The next day, the videos serve a second purpose. Ranging in length from three to seven minutes, with a tone that could be humorous, serious or thought-provoking, the videos are posted on the church Web site and are used as a promotional tool for the services themselves. Members refer their friends to the church site to see the videos, generating hundreds of views each week. And these well-produced videos – many times taking 40 man-hours to produce – begin to reach others.
“We’re a large church with about 3500 people, and video is a big part of what we do,” said Glenn Davis, the church’s executive pastor. “It connects people to our church. It connects people to our messages. It’s important for us to have our videos on the Web because people go from the Web to the inside of our church.”
Countryside Christian Center is just one of many churches today that have discovered that, for many visitors, the path to the pew begins with a connection on the Web. This integrated use of technology with the ministry of teaching and reaching is able to convey the style and emphasis of a church, to highlight missions and ministries and to show visitors how they can connect. And they can see it all before they even leave the comfort of their own Internet access.
In the case of Countryside, the collaborative tools of content management available from E-zekiel.com and the free video-sharing site, E-zekiel.tv, tie together to create this synergy. The church size makes its possible to devote man-hours and other resources to video production. But many, many others are also taking advantage of low-cost video production and easy access to free video-sharing sites to tell visitors what they’ll find once they step inside the church walls. And many, many Americans are tuning in to the online video phenomenon.
A Growing Trend
According to a 2009 Pew Internet and American Life Project survey, a full 62% of online adults have watched videos on video-sharing sites – a figure that is nearly double the 33% that were online video viewers in a 2006 survey.
Breaking down the results demographically, the 2009 survey shows that 89% of Internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 watch content on video-sharing sites – with 36% doing so almost daily. For online adults between the ages of 30 and 49, 67% use video-sharing sites. That number is 41% for Internet users between the ages of 50 and 64, and 27% for those 65 and older.
The trend is partly fed by broadband connectivity; high-speed connections are running in homes of 63% of American adults. Among these broadband users, 69% watch videos on video-sharing sites, with 23% doing so on a typical day.
So, yes, online videos are growing in popularity, certainly in the younger demographics but in the older as well. And increasing connectivity is making this possible.
Reaching a Younger Audience
Given the differing relationship to technology between the young and old, Countryside Christian Center has also used video to maintain a demographic balance to church growth.
Founded almost 30 years ago, the church has a senior pastor who’s been there from the beginning and is now in his late 60s. He’s joined in the congregation by a large senior membership that dates back to the church’s early days, but Countryside is also growing in younger members.
As Davis explains, their use of technology and videos in the service has a lot to do with keeping the congregation balanced, age-wise. And it makes sense that these younger members, who feel more engaged through the use of videos in the service, would also be the ones referring their friends to the church’s site the next day.
How About You?
In a time of tight budgets for both churches and their members, financial considerations are paramount. Countryside’s investment in video production may be above or below your own video budget, but that doesn’t mean your participation has to be in that ballpark. With free video-sharing sites like E-zekiel.tv, and low-cost video cameras, you can be online with your own message very quickly. To get started…
Select Your Focus – What purpose will your online videos serve? Ultimately, they’ll be used to communicate something about your church to someone who needs to know. But the specific video uses could range from welcoming visitors to the church and explaining beliefs or providing spiritual information to promoting church events, creating mission trip reports and sharing member testimonies.
Make Your Plan – How often will you post videos? Once, weekly, periodically? Determine your timeline. Who will participate on camera or behind the camera? Gather your participants.
Point Back to Your Site – Your Web site is your hub for global communication, and that’s true with videos too. As you create and share videos, keep pointing viewers back to your Web site. When you use a free video-sharing site, you can add your Web address as a part of the video details. Additionally, you can create a multimedia page on your site where videos can be archived in a searchable format. As with all efforts at reaching and teaching, of course, the goal in leading folks to your videos ultimately is to lead them to your pews.