Many years ago - before I was with our church - the trend of video recording your services was beginning to take off; Costs were coming down, the ability to burn DVD's and even post your video sermon online were beginning to be a reality to even the smallest of churches. PAC was one of those churches that dove in and purchased a nice (and expensive) camcorder for that time.
When we began to dream about multiple locations, and the possibility of being a resource church to other congregations began to be a reality, it became clear the the cameras we had purchased years before needed to be upgraded.
We began to talk with our denominational district office about what it might look like to provide videos to rural churches in the C&MA (our denomination) and began to upgrade our technology. This began as we upgraded from our single camera (that was pretty expensive 6 years ago) to two HD cameras so we could work with multiple angles. We wanted to go with two cameras because we believed the quality of the footage would increase by having multiple angles that could go between a wide shot, close up and torso.
The quality improvement was immediately noticeable on the web where we would post our videos.
The next step, we belived was to get our congregation used to "seeing" the sermon on the screen. We thought - probably like most pastors in rural congregations - that video preaching would probably be a tougher sell to just introduce it without a walking into it slowly.
The first change was begin to provide a live feed of the preacher on the screen. This did serve a practical purpose in helping people at the back of the gym see better, but it also helped in having our congregation get used to seeing the pastor in video form. We did recevie some push back from a small vocal minority. Their concern was that we were making the service all about the pastor - as if it were a cult of personality. This, however, was a very small vocal minority.
For the most part, however, the congregation continued to attend without much ado about the new video feed.
The next step was for our tech team put together a video switching program that would work in conjunction with our display program, Easyworship. By using a green slide behind the lyrics to songs, they were able to have a live video feed of the worship team behind the lyrics. This, I believe, was a way easier transition than the preaching via video.
Seeing the live feed of the band allowed for some creative camera work including teaching our camera operators proper skills like zoom, pan and framing.
By increasing our video production, it also opened up the doors to more effectively teach about the role of musicians on stage and how their facial expressions, body language and fidgety fingers so easily distract from the message.
Sometimes the pastor would come up onto the stage to do a final closing prayer, 2-minute sermon summary, etc., and on the video feed, the wandering eyes, yawns and cracking knuckles would be magnified for the congregation to see and would be caught on the camera for the video.
Other times, the band, on cue, would enter the stage behind the pastor to get ready for a final song and again the camera would pickup on the stomping like elephants, wispering between band members and a on-going inside joke that they would still be chukling about.
These were fantastic "teachable moments" that would drive our Sunday Morning Producer crazy.
To transition into a higher video production was not just a matter of buying more and better A/V material. It was not just about implementing a new "system." It was about strong, intentional leadership on the part of our lead pastor and worship ministry/producer. If you are heading into a new frontier of better video technology, go slow.
Don't spend your whole budget in one shot (although you'll be tempted to!) and make sure that you know the "why" you're doing this next step. Knowing the why allows you to lead well and to call people higher!
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.