Now Go! and make Digital Disciples
In my writing and workshops, I often reference one of my favorite videos, The Easter Story, by biblical storyteller extraordinaire Casey Wait Fitzgerald of Faith and Wonder. Obviously this is a great time of year to share it again!
Let’s break down why this video has such an emotional impact:
- It takes the traditional language of the Easter story from Mark 16:1-8 and sets it free, allowing it to ride on the breath of the Holy Spirit. The scriptural language is a foundation, not a boundary. The text serves as a starting point, but the exclamation, emphasis, and energy are all supplied by the story tellers.
- The storytellers represent diverse ages, genders, verbal abilities, and ethnicities. They are dressed in their Easter best or wear sweatshirts or no shirts, they hold stuffed toys, they stand, they sit, they jump, they dance. They are each in their own context, in their own homes, gardens, offices, classrooms, and outdoor spaces.
- Some of the storytellers speak solo, others speak in relation to one another – families, siblings, youth groups all chime in, all voices blending and flowing, one into the next.
- The storytelling ability of the speakers differs wildly. Some are comfortable in front of the camera, some speak with slightly awkward inflection, as if they are not used to an audience. Some children gush with emotion, some adults exude a quiet intensity.
- The video production is clearly not a slick professional effort – the camera often shakes, some folks were filmed horizontally, some vertically. Some families gaze intently into their computer as they record their parts, some young participants are recorded as they careen through the house.
- The audio quality is good and the background music adds to a sense of continuity.
- The video doesn’t relegate the viewer to a passive role – it is invitational and directive. “So now it’s up to us…” the graphic suggests, followed by the admonition to GO!
- There’s a dance party at the end.
- Most of all, the video feels authentic. It is obvious that these are real people, each made in the image of God, each at their own point in their faith journey. And yet, they are united in this story, taking scripture and giving it life, breath, personality, and energy.
Consider making a video with your faith community
Cell phones allow a high-quality recording of both video and audio; and apps such as iMovie make video and sound editing incredibly easy. But before you grab your cell phone and round up some storytellers, here are some things to think about before you begin:
- What scriptural story might tell? Would you choose a story to celebrate a highlight of the church year – Christmas or Easter? Or might you consider another story that emphasizes a particular shared experience, interest, or ministry of your congregation?
- Could the making of a video be part of an specific program, such as VBS, or other formation activity?
- Who will you invite to share in the telling of the story? How can you encourage a broad section of people to participate?
- What training, instruction, support, and encouragement will participants need? Will you rehearse in advance, telling the story for one another? Will you give any direction on effective storytelling? What work will you do with participants to deepen their understanding of the story?
- What resources do you need to prepare for participants? If you provide the scripture reading in advance, how will you move your participants from merely reading the words to telling the story? Will you ask them to paraphrase or re-tell it in their own words? Might you ask prompting questions about their favorite parts?
- Will you record the video at a centrally designated location and time, or will you ask people to submit recordings they make? If so, you may want to specify file formats and let people know the best way to get their files to you, via Dropbox or a shared Google drive.
- What app will you use to edit the video? Remember, most videos shared on social media are SHORT in duration – keep it under 3 minutes!
- If you use music in the background, do it legally. Apps like iMovie have a limited selections of background music that you can use, or you can search for other royalty free music sites.
- Make sure you have video release forms from all participants.
- How will you share the video? What social media platforms?
“Disciple” is defined as someone one who accepts and assists in spreading the message of Christ. It is not enough to be disciples ourselves; we are charged in the Great Commission to go and make disciples. Digital platform offer an exciting and far-reaching way to live into that role. What are you waiting for?
- Lisa Brown, Director of Digital Ministry
Our goal at Membership Vision is to help churches and other faith communities to tell their stories in the digital space. Each church, irrespective of size, has a living and active story to tell, and technology provides an opportunity to share that story in a way that is welcoming and engaging. Technology can also distract us and keep us from connecting with one another. It can be a burden to keep communications current, to engage in the many ways that members of your community connect with each other, both inside and outside of the church walls. We aim to remove technological hurdles and allow churches to communicate online in an effective and sustainable way. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 626-0143 to talk about the ways we can help your church build a digital presence.