Church Videography

In the last two decades, technology has opened opportunities that Churches have embraced with interesting results. In 1999, one of the pastors at the Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Georgia realized that their sound room had become a media room. Looking at the cameras and sound equipment, he realized that cost was no longer a hindrance to creating professional productions. That led to the production of a movie in 2003: Flywheel. The goal of the movie was to express the Gospel in a compelling fashion.

And, churches have been taking the initiative in using their resources to create graphic messages. Sherwood Baptist Church went on to make the movie Facing the Giants [2006] and Fireproof [2008.] At last count, it was estimated that over 1,200 members of the congregation have participated in the productions []

It was with this example in mind that I was fascinated last week to read about the Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. In Christianity Today, Brett McCracken wrote “No More Cheesy, Churchy Videos” [] He began his article saying, “It wasn’t so long ago that some churches frowned upon their members even going to see movies, let alone participate in making them. But as new media and video forms have increasingly become ubiquitous and acceptable tools in worship services, that’s all changed. Today, it’s common to see a film clip or video illustration on Sunday mornings, and more and more churches have video ministries that are creating original productions.”

But, not all churches do it well – which is where Bel Air Presbyterian Church stands out. I suppose it’s no surprise that a church with a significant population of “elite, audition-based actors, writers, directors and other film/media practitioners” would be the ones to set a higher standard and provide a quality model. Their ministry carries the delightful title: BADD [Bel Air Drama Department] but their productions are anything but bad. Most of their videos are available on YouTube, about 80% of them comedy, and all of them related to relevant ministry.

I’d add my recommendation to Brett McCracken as he writes, ”BADD is neither the first nor the biggest church film ministry, but it is a good case study in what a film ministry might look like in an era of rapidly changing media.”  In fact, I’d say it’s a great case study worth the look