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Using Video to Tell Your Story

We asked Ralph Figueroa to tell us about his work with videography, and how his company can assist our field with ministry support.

Editor – Ralph, you spend much of your time in the world of videography, which is where our culture lives today. We are a media-driven age. And there are huge opportunities for our churches to use video to tell God’s story and their stories in compelling ways. How long have you been involved with video, and how can you assist people in involved in ministry?

Figueroa – I’ve been working in production and post production for over 20 years. Much of my career has been specifically as an editor. Editing has helped my storytelling, which is, in my estimation, the single most important element to consider in a production. After all, everyone wants to be inspired with a good story. It’s true with movies, commercials, news and even fund-raising. Once you connect with a character and sympathize with their aspirations, concerns or plight, you immediately have a buy-in. You have captured the viewer’s attention and now you can go deeper.

For ministries trying to connect with people who need to hear the gospel message, you have to meet their needs, not just physically but emotionally as well, before being able to make a meaningful relationship where you can have some relevant conversations. A simple story that inspires your viewer can make all the difference in the world in opening up the channels of communication with a ministry and their audience. We are in the business of “telling stories…that’s what we do.

Editor – So let’s break this down. If I am in a local church with an attendance of 100-200 people, how can I use video to connect with my community? Can you give me some specific examples?

Figueroa – Well, there are many ways to use video, but if you’re talking about connecting with the community I would first ask, “what does your church have to offer?” I would hope all churches offer an opportunity to know Jesus, but what is your church best at? How can you set yourself apart from the myriad of other choices in town. I’m sure there would be a variety of things, but after narrowing the list, what stands out? Then, after isolating the one thing, ask “how does your church fulfill that specific need in the community?”

I like to tackle things very pragmatically before delving into any kind of video. You know, we talk about being good stewards when it comes to finances, but good stewards of your members time and resources is just as important. Doing your homework and discovering how to reach your community is key to successfully connecting with your audience. In this case, what need is your church able to fulfill in the community to warm them up to the idea of even considering your church as a place to call home. I put it that way because as Christians, we’re all in the business of growing God’s kingdom. Our atheist and agnostic friends do charity work well without the help of a church. Why your church?

With our community of believers we have several construction contractors. Almost every mission trip we take involves one of our talented members where others can feel confident as they lay block or put up siding. What a great way to ask members of your community to get involved. You’re doing something that has a tremendous impact socially and physically and you have all the time in the world to share your personal “ getting to know Jesus” story with that person. The Holy Spirit needs opportunities like this that only its church members can provide.

Now is your chance to capture those moments in video. You have great stories to capture and share, further capitalizing on your initial effort. With those stories, you can use small segments to do ad placements on You Tube and Facebook. But most importantly, these are tools that church members can use to to say, “look, this is what we’re doing…this is what I’m talking about.” I believe that is the most effective means of using videos. Flashy campaigns are not where the meat and potatoes of your marketing is…it’s “your stories.”

Editor – That sounds great! And in every church there are stories that need to be told. But isn’t video production difficult and expensive? Doesn’t it take people with technical skills, and lots of money? Most churches don’t have big budgets for this kind of thing. Give me a scenario for how this could be accomplished without breaking the bank.

Figueroa – It doesn’t have to be expensive and in reality, a good story usually trumps what’s lacking in quality. It helps to have some technical skills, but there are plenty of young folk eager to devote time to the craft of shooting and producing. You can sometimes find production folk who are willing to mentor a young church member and give them tips on what to do and how to do it. The equipment doesn’t require much these days…, usually a laptop and a camera and maybe a set of lights. Of course, if you are wanting something polished, it usually comes with a bit of experience, but it all depends on what you are trying to do.

For the most part, churches are not looking at funding a national ad campaign with outlets to broadcast on television. I imagine a church simply want to have an engaging video on upcoming events and some community involvement highlights to begin with. What I would stay away from is the idea that you have to have multiple cameras, a switcher and a bunch of gear to start. That’s nonsense! Besides that, there are plenty of large churches with big budgets that have great sermons, if that’s what someone is looking for. Are you really trying to compete against that?

Some passionate young folk, a genuine story, a simple video camera, is all you need to get started. It’s really not about the technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love technology…but only when it makes my craft easier and the reward is adding value to the overall production.

Let’s also not forget, this can be a ministry to some young folk that need to be involved. Pastors, the church board and even the church treasurer can get behind that! Guide them, give them good mentors and cut them loose! You’ll be amazed at what happens when you enable fervent young Christians and then step out of the way!

Editor – I like the idea of involving more people who may not be active. Tell us about your company and the services you offer. In what ways can you help local churches ramp up or grow their video ministries?

Figueroa – Travis Fowler and I are managing partners at Barnstorm Digital. We work mainly with marketing professionals in the corporate arena as well as non-profit organizations. Our experience spans the gamut, from multi-camera live shoots, both in the studio and on location, down to a single camera setup. In post production, we specialize in editing and graphics, but, we offer more and find the talent we need to complement a project that may call for other areas of expertise. So we offer a variety of services.

A great way we can help a local church is through a production seminar. We come in, show you how to put together a shoot. We’ll share some insights on valuable resources available to you, make suggestions on how to maximize the equipment you have, help you choose additional gear needed and most importantly, hopefully inspire you to do something great for God’s Kingdom!

Editor – Thank you for sharing your vision and enthusiasm for digital story-telling, as it relates to spirituality and fulfilling our mission. Hopefully our readers will be able to use your services to enhance their efforts. God bless!

Visit Barnstorm Digital online

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About Rich DuBose, Ralph Figueroa and Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference

Ralph Figueroa

lives in Southern California

Rich DuBose

writes from Northern California

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