The first thing I would tell any small church wanting to start up a video ministry is to start small. Remember that you never want to make giant leaps in technical ministry without the corresponding personnel to manage and run that ministry week to week. This means that you not only need the number of personnel, but they need to be properly trained and educated on best practices and standards.
I strongly caution against churches starting both a video ministry and a live streaming ministry at the same time. They really are different ministries with separate audiences and different considerations. I will discuss live streaming separately in a future article so for now let’s focus on what makes a video ministry so appealing to small churches and how to run them well.
Well before a purchase is made, it’s important to ask a few questions of the church leadership:
Why do we want or need a video ministry?
If you are starting any ministry because another church has that ministry, you should stop because your motivation is all wrong. You need to have a laser focus on exactly what you will use the video ministry to achieve. It is critically important to establish this mission for the ministry from the outset, otherwise you will always have an uphill battle trying to recruit people to serve because no one knows why the ministries exists.
What do they want to achieve immediately in terms of capability and where would they like to see the video ministry in 5-10 years?
I will say something that could be fairly controversial at this juncture; I would strongly advise against allowing a ministry to be started as a pet project of one individual or a small group of individuals without the overall support of the church. The danger is that the ministry will always be under the control of this person or persons and without the support of the church, could and often does, run astray of the church’s mission. I’ve seen video ministries used as platforms for broadcasting personal ideologies and messaging that runs in direct conflict with Scripture. With the church as a whole behind the ministry, there is a far greater amount and variety of oversight and accountability.
It’s important to not only establish short term goals, but to establish a vision for the future that allows the ministry to have “stretch goals” to aim for that allows them to track how they are progressing and growing.
What kind of commitments are the church leaders prepared to make in terms of getting the right equipment and the right training for those serving in the video ministry?
If you are not going to do something right the first time, it begs the question as to what the true motivations and priorities are with the leadership. Sometimes, education is needed to explain what the true costs are, not only in equipment, installation and training but also continuing costs, which will vary based on exactly what you are planning on doing with your video content. Please note, even if you are not live streaming your worship service, copyright clearances are still needed if you are recording ANY copyrighted content (e.g. images, videos, movie clips, lyrics, etc.). The two primary licenses to look at are CCLI and WorshipCast.
In the end, I encourage all churches to have a video ministry, but only if the motivations and priorities are in the right place to start and sustain that ministry well into the future.