1. Don’t be intimated when starting a media ministry using screens and video cameras, but exercise caution and patience.
2. Start slowly—with the basics. Screen, computer, projector. Microphones. Video camera on a tripod. High-speed Internet access.
3. Ease into things. Add music lyrics or Bible texts to the screen during the church service, using programs such as PowerPoint or Keynote. Ask for volunteers who either have experience or the time, willingness, and ability to be trained on the various technological tools.
4. Buy the best camera the church can afford. According to Shaun Walker, senior pastor of River Christian Church, a sub-$200 HD camera can produce good images,[i] but they are usually fully automatic, which means that exposure, focus, and audio are not adjustable. “More expensive cameras allow the user to utilize manual focus and manual exposure, avoiding such issues as the exposure shunting up and down and the lens searching for focus,” Walker explains.[ii] “However, if your budget doesn’t extend toward purchasing a more expensive camera, then there are ways to avoid some of these issues. . . . A fluid head tripod is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in a production kit (apart from the camera).” Walker also recommends investing in lighting for the church’s platform/stage—tungsten, fluorescent, or LED—but encourages teams to research lighting, as each type has pros and cons.
5. Sound quality can make or break your broadcast. Audio is typically the easiest obstacle for a church to overcome: churches have sound systems that amplify the audio for the room, and this system can be run straight into the camera (with the correct cables) or portable recording device (such as a Zoom H4n, H5, or H6).
6. Post Production is something that churches should invest in, even if the plan is to live-stream the service on the Internet, according to Walker. Programs are available for the computer for nonlinear editing (such as Premiere, Final Cut Pro for Macs, or DaVinci Resolve); and apps that allow videos to be burned to DVDs, add motion graphics, etc., can also be purchased. He suggests that a church can set up a good-quality television or video ministry for just under $3,000.
7. Build a media ministry team. “Our biggest communication ministry is our media team (A/V),” says Hayley Proctor, communication director and media coordinator for the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church in Texas. Proctor works with a team of about 40 people who volunteer their time to communication. With three photographers, and several members serving as broadcast directors, video is crucial to getting the message out. “We have some very dedicated people in this ministry, and they work tirelessly to serve our inhouse and online church family.”
8. “Plan before you engage in media ministry, especially streaming services” is the advice that Proctor gives to churches. “Broadcasting your sermons is not an easy task,” she says. “It requires many hours of service, many hands to serve, lots of equipment. It’s not a ministry for everyone. Whether you broadcast or do something else, focus on what you do well, serve your local community in some new way—but do it with excellence. God deserves our best.”
9. “Use your mission as guide when deciding what format of communication you want to use,” according to Proctor, and whether it is video streaming/recording, church newsletters, or reaching out through social media, “make sure you’re doing things that serve the mission of the church.”
Proctor says that the church’s media ministry gets to serve the local congregation and the surrounding community through living out and sharing the mission: “Through grace we are a church engaging with each other and our world.”
“In a world of information overload and bad news, these teams want to share the good news of grace with the world,” says Proctor. “And isn’t that what the Great Commission is all about after all?”
[i] It may be a challenge to find a decent camera under $200; talk to another church about what cameras they use for their media ministry. Also, ask church members who have experience for their input/insight in this field.