It seems that all too often we spend time insuring the sound for a worship service is as good as we can get, the stage is lit enough that the people can be seen, and the video is projecting the right words for the songs that have been chosen. We spend so much time making sure these systems support our basic service goals, but we rarely stop to think of the power we have with each system.
Some churches have begun to use video as more than just a method of displaying words, but many are still trudging along – simply trying to get lyrics to match what is being sung.
On Sunday we think of our sound system as no more than a method to amplify voices and instruments so the people can hear clearly each nuance.
I urge you to consider more creativity in your approach. These systems are very powerful in their delivery method. Sound effects, video clips, community interviews, animations, and more can all be used to deliver a message – either supportive or independent of the primary message. We have used video to show how the community feels about religion, how aware the community was of our church, presentation of the Gospel message, and more! The possibilities are endless.
For example, take a camera and a microphone and go out to the local grocery store. Ask people as they walk by if you can take about 2 minutes to ask them a couple of questions about their community –
I usually prefer to not identify that I am with a church, generally opting for a generic “community service study” or something similar. I find that doing this often gets me more honest answers. When they ask where it will be shown I once again offer a general answer such as saying “it’s a local project documentary on the community and will be shown to a group of people that are interested in the community awareness” or something like that. Don’t lie – but don’t reveal it’s going to be shown at a church (it will taint their answers). Then ask them a series of questions, such as:
- Where is the nearest library?
- Where is the courthouse?
- Where is the local little league ballpark?
- Where is the nearest church?
- How long have you lived here?
These questions seem benign enough on their own. But notice the two key questions – how long have you lived here, and where is the nearest church? Now, you should have picked a location that makes your church the nearest one – how many people know your church is around the corner or think of your church when asked this question? This could make a real good sampling to show your congregation and compare it to the effectiveness the church is having on outreach in your community. Obviously, when you edit the video you will chop out all the other questions and focus on the answer of the question(s) you are after – also how you edit the piece will determine the level of impact.
Another things we have done is ask the following questions under the auspice of “Studying the communities thoughts on religion”:
- Do you believe there is a God?
- Do you consider yourself part of any particular religion or denomination?
- Of all denominations, which would you consider the most judgmental?
- What is your impression of other people who call themselves Christians?
- If you don’t already go to church would you? If so, where might you go?
These are some basic question that we asked – and the answers were fairly predictable to the staff, however they blew the church away. Our particular survey showed a rather negative feeling towards the church in general. It really opened the eyes of our congregation.
I recall one series we did on the end of the world. We got a lot of bizarre responses, but the best one – and the one we ended on – was a guy who went into extreme detail on how aliens would invade the world and kill everyone. We asked him if he’d ever heard the idea that Jesus Christ would return at the end of the world – the man scoffed, chuckled, and said “Son, don’t you think that’s a little far-fetched?”! It made a strong impact on how deceived people are.
Our world is very media savvy. We have television, radio, and theaters all around us. With the advent of the Internet we are constantly seeking multi-media messages. Adapting our message delivery format with these tools can only help us. I encourage you to think about how you can use the tools you already have to speak to people in a relevant way.
Spread the word.