Recently, attendees of Eagle Brook Church in Lino Lakes, Minn., got a good laugh at Senior Pastor Bob Merritt’s 85-pound Chesapeake as the dog excitedly greeted his master at the door—just one of the video clips Merritt used to illustrate his message on living and loving generously. The footage played as Merritt talked and the audience continued to laugh.
“The short clip enhanced the message and also gave the audience a chance to laugh,” says Amy Anderson, executive director of worship ministries at Eagle Brook Church.
By using moving visuals, such as relevant photographs and short video clips—created in-house and taken from popular movies—the team hopes to shift attendees’ focus from horizontal (distracted by their surroundings) to vertical (God).
The tech arts team of the three-campus, 10,000-attendee church hopes their fine-tuned work makes them invisible and God more visible to their guests. Anderson offers five tips for making a guest connection via technical arts.
Work ahead. Using media effectively requires rehearsal and thorough planning. ”It’s a collaborative effort, but you need one person keeping everyone on schedule,” says Anderson. “Unfortunately in churches, pastors and the staff often work from week to week.” Instead of winging it, at Eagle Brook, the tech arts team knows the sermon series topics six months out and can begin creating corresponding art. And, like music, tech arts should be rehearsed.
Keep it short. Because attention spans are short, Eagle Brook’s clips are often around 30 seconds and never more than two minutes.
Know what people are watching. A short clip from an old movie will not be relevant to a 20-something audience. For a recent sermon series, Eagle Brook created short films that were spoofs of “MTV Cribs,” knowing that chances were good most of its audience had watched the show. (The “cribs” were pastors’ houses.)
Tie everything together. If you’re doing a message series, brand it visually in your bulletin, on your Web site and on video screens.
Think digitally. Often, first-time guests have made their initial visit to your church via your Web site. Post relevant and well-done videos on your site to let visitors know what they can expect at your church. Make sure you change the site frequently and rotate in new videos.
Why I Stayed…
“Although I grew up in church, I’m in college and haven’t made the effort to go on Sundays for a while. But someone recently invited me to Eagle Brook Church at the Spring Lake Park, Minn., campus thinking I’d like it.
“Before I checked it out, I went to their Web site to look up information about the church and see what it was about. I clicked on some videos they had used for recent sermon introductions. They were short skits done by people from the church to go with particular messages, but they seemed very professional. And they were funny, so I watched them all the way through.
“I decided to go. On the first Sunday I attended, the pastor used a short clip from the movie A Beautiful Mind, about the mathematician John Nash. The clip helped make the pastor’s message about what’s most important in life more significant. I could relate better because they were using something I was familiar with—movies.
“The second time I went, the pastor put personal pictures up on the screen during his message, such as a picture of his grandson. This really helped keep my attention. The church has three large screens in front, and the music and video clips they used were impressive.
“I’m a graphic design major, so the look and feel of things are important to me. The service was very different from what I was used to, but I really liked it. I think I was most attracted by its obvious attention to doing multimedia right.“ —Brent Johnson
–From Outreach magazine, May/June 2008