Jesus realized the power of telling stories when He taught and communicated with others. Using illustrations is just as powerful today. We live in an entertainment driven culture, spending billions on movies, DVDs, theater, music, and other entertainment.
If our culture is willing to spend so much money to watch visual stories (i.e. movies, etc.), then shouldn't the church be investing in communicating this way? As a pastor or group leader, sermon illustrations bring to life the truth you are seeking to communicate.
Why do we need videos in church?
Churches are a part of the culture we live in. Illustration videos play an important role in your church or group, providing not only an excellent visual tool to help communicate a life-changing message, but to provoke thought, inspiration, and understanding, with an approach that's entertaining.
Every church has its own unique qualities or "personality" if you will. Videos can be used to enhance this uniqueness, and can be used in a variety of different settings and groups to serve many different purposes.
There are a multitude of topics ranging from marriage, Jesus' teachings, the Holy Spirit, stewardship to cults. Working with hundreds of churches every week, I see one of the most effective ways ministers use videos is to support a theme or provide an illustration. Karen Donovan and her husband, Pastor Joe, lead the people at West Bay Community Church, a new church with a small but growing congregation in Largo, Florida.
"We use videos to reach as many people as we can in every way we can," says Karen. "Some of them have incredible production values yet others may have a more homemade look. I use them both. Different situations require a different approach."
Pastor Rick Rocco of Frontline Christian Church, a new non-denominational church plant in Hamden, Connecticut explains, "I didn't realize that when I stumbled across that first downloadable short video, my entire ministry would change. I run two separate types of services, one family worship service on Sunday and one Emerging Church on Monday night...we use videos for both. My congregation is excited and is retaining more of the Word because of video tools."
Here are more examples: The video Rush, by Golden Lamb is a fast paced vignette documenting a businessman's busy schedule from dawn to dusk. It poses the question; is the rush worth it? A parenting video called Fatherhood by Stewart Redwine takes a humorous look at how parents can make mountains out of molehills in their children's lives. And, in an artistic interpretation The Stations, Ghislaine Howard's paintings cause us to do more than wait. Her stark images will help your congregation enter into the reality and the horror of Christ's agony.
In addition to supporting sermon themes and illustrations, videos can be used to show a compelling testimony, add humor, or as a closer.
"With the advent of video in mainstream church ministry, we have seen a dramatic increase in our sermon effectiveness as well as the tremendous impact that a carefully crafted video illustration or video vignette brings to the service setting," says Pastor Steve Mohr, who leads a post-modern church of 350 plus in the Assemblies of God denomination in rural Seattle. "We use [video] materials for a welcome/greeting transition; humorous interludes, as well as serious media to set up the message or to enhance a point of the message."
One area where we have seen explosive growth is in the use of videos for worship. In the video Galaxy, by Highway Video, the producers created compelling images of the universe with graphics and animation. Visual metaphors are used along with worship music to usher in an extraordinary worship experience.
Pastor Scott Keller of Skyline Community Church in O'Fallon, Illinois states, "[Videos] have provided our creative team with fresh ideas, such as using a video along with our own praise band to play live over the video. It looked like we had spent hours putting it together and it made a huge impact."
There are numerous videos to support virtually every category topic. What touches an individual? It may be the music, the words on the screen, or the story itself. Whatever part of the service they are used, videos can enhance our experience with God, help drive home the message we are trying to communicate, and add impact and effectiveness to the church experience.
With the excellent media sources available today, I encourage you to go beyond the "normal" routine, and try adding a new video component to your service. You may be surprised at the results.
George Temple is President of Sermonspice, located in Fresno, CA -www.sermonspice.com