• an annual worldwide focus day on a Sunday near the end of April, as the culmination of Digital Outreach Month. Churches and other groups are encouraged to create a focus spot or digital training day, either on that Sunday, or indeed at any time of the year.
• a year-round resource guide about web, mobile and digital media outreach
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A UK team has just launched a new online resource with video shorts, aimed at mid-to-late teens.
It answers questions about faith in an outsider-friendly and accessible way, so it is ideal for youthgroup members to use and share.
Founder Darren Quinnel writes:
Message to the Masses is more than just a website and resource – we exists to ignite a faith-sharing passion in young people’s hearts.
Our aim is not only to see young people understand their faith but also to help and support them in defending that faith. We do this through online multimedia and social networks, with users being able to create their own account profile, share their own personal story of Jesus and help their friends to start their own journey to discover God.
Starting a journey with Jesus doesn’t mean you know all the answers, but through Message to the Masses young people can discover answers for themselves and create firm foundations to help them understand, defend and share their faith!
Over Easter 2013, the team who produced the Falling Plates video encouraged people around the world to share it widely. They also make suggestions for sharing it as a conversation starter.
Before Easter 2013, 400,000 people had already viewed Falling Plates on YouTube. Over the Easter period, there were a further 200,000 views! The team report here on the impact.
The film captures the main theme from the Bible in images and concepts that resonate with 21st-century audiences.
#FallingPlates portrays in four minutes the universal themes of life, lost love, death, pain and faith in a God who interrupts our lives to show his love.
Executive Producer Howard Crutsinger blends stunning still photography from modern life with special video effects to illustrate the experience of so many.
Life begins happy and content as it was created by God to be. But, it’s shattered in pain leaving men and women broken, stained and burned. Into that pain, God the creator, who desires a true relationship with each person, proves his love to restore individuals and humanity.
#FallingPlates is a joint production from Cru and Strong Films. Strong Films creates short films that powerfully inspire and start conversations. Cru (also known as Campus Crusade for Christ in the United States) is an interdenominational organization committed to giving people the opportunity to respond to God’s offer of love and forgiveness.
You can embed the video into websites, blogs, or Facebook, or share the YouTube URL http://youtu.be/KGlx11BxF24 on Twitter and elsewhere. On Twitter, use the #fallingplates hashtag, so that this will be seen as a trending item.
Falling Plates in other languages
Different language subtitles have also been made and the team encourage others to do this.
Professional Web Video
Plan, Produce, Distribute, Promote and Monetize Quality Video
Richard Harrington and Mark Weiser
Focal Press ISBN-13: 9780240815091
This is an excellent book for both beginners and experts, mid-sized teams with reasonable budgets or the one-man-band working on a shoestring. In one volume it covers all aspects of planning, producing, and publishing your video.
There are individual chapters on planning, audio, lighting, using graphics and stock footage, editing, encoding for the web, using Flash video, podcasting and RSS feeds, hosting online video, promoting your video and monetizing it.
This book is firmly grounded in practical experience, and most of the chapters end with a mini case-study, which helps to illustrate the process.
Particularly helpful is the emphasis all through the book on the difference it makes when producing videos which are likely to be viewed on small screens – on tablets or mobile phones.
There are a few small disappointments: the authors sometimes assume that you have a bigger budget/production crew than is likely to be the case for most web video producers. Also, the chapter on audio assumes that you can record your main audio on the camera, and use a solid-state sound recorder for backup. This should be the other way round. But other than these minor niggles, this is an excellent book, and well worth buying. It’s available from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and other outlets.
This guest book review is by Dave Couchman, director of Focus, which produces apologetics video shorts including God: New Evidence, and After Life.
Why learn film-making?
Our digital communication age is highly visual. People expect to learn online through the moving image, especially the video short.
It has never been easier to shoot and edit video, or upload video shorts to YouTube. Video is a vital tool for evangelism and discipleship. It is an increasingly strategic skill to learn. Here are more resources:
One thing I love about Paul Clifford is that he gives stuff away. He writes in his newsletter, “The first question I ask myself every week is… what can I give away this week?”
He sometimes makes his ebook Tweeting Church free on Kindle when you sign up for his newsletter.
Paul is also a keen advocate of video production, and writes:
A few weeks ago, someone introduced me to Powtoon. I’m not sure who or where I heard about it, but I did. I signed up for the beta, but while it’s great, I’m a videographer, so I can already do everything it does and with more control. So, I created my own product announcement video for Church Video Summer School [watch it below]. It was fun and I thought, “Hmm. I bet there are people that would like to do the same thing, but don’t want to (or can’t) take the time to draw the characters and props.” So, I’ve taken a few minutes to zip up the resources and upload them to one of my favorite file sharing accounts. Grab the drawings in this zip file. You should know that the background image is a crinkled piece of legal paper in tiff format and the little dudes and props are all PNGs so they’ll work anywhere you want to add that hand drawn look even if you don’t want to make an animation. Heck, if you watch the Powtoon tutorials, you could even use them there. I’d love to see anything you use them for; it comforts me that these giveaways are helpful.
Because a moving audio-visual is potentially attention-grabbing and memorable. We living in a visual communication age. We need to learn the skills of creating short effective video clips, both for church communication and online evangelism.
Because video shorts are effective evangelistic conversation starters, shared on a mobile phone, or in Facebook and Twitter. Learn more.
Cardboard testimonies are a highly visual, often moving, way of briefly sharing the story of God’s hand in people’s life stories. They are relatively easy to plan and film.
It’s another way of creating video shorts that can be shared in Facebook, Twitter, on a church web site, etc. Of course, just as in writing out a longer testimony for outsiders, avoid jargon and exaggeration or overclaim: read more.
Australia is probably similar in religious attitudes to most European countries, and Canada. Check the detailed infographic below of Australian views.
There are similar figures available for Europe from the Eurobarometer and Gallup Polls – unfortunately these do not measure animosity/hostility as such, though this may overlap considerably with the percent of non-theists in their research results.
USA is numerically very different, but George Barna Research recently reported that over the last decade, as a percentage of the population, there was zero gain in the number of Christians in America, despite the fact that $500 billion was spent on domestic ministry during that same period!
Some of our failures may be attributed to failing to understand the current context. This explanation and chart of ‘withreach’ versus ‘outreach’ is hugely helpful.
Note that around 20% of people in Australia claim a mild to strong animosity to Christianity. Understanding people’s attitude is a key to effective evangelism, and the Gray Matrix concept (a modification of the Engel Scale) is hugely helpful in visualizing this:
The church has historically fished in a very small pool – that of ‘churched’ people, ie. those with some degree of Christian background. We have often barely connected the other far larger segments of the popular, as this short story Emlyn and the Far Pools suggests. (Read in text form – available to freely reproduce.)
Since its launch in 2005 (history), YouTube has grown to be the definitive place to find and share video shorts. By 2012, 60 minutes of new video content were being posted to YouTube every minute, with over 2 billion videos viewed worldwide each day. It’s the default place to post short clips, with Vimeo as a distant second for longer videos. YouTube is now the world’s second-largest search interface, after Google.
The ‘print communication culture’ that lasted since the invention of the printing press is being rapidly superceded by the new ‘digital communication culture’. The differences are far-reaching and transformative, because not only are digital media a different means to communicate, but they are transforming the way our culture thinks. For a detailed unpacking of this ongoing change, read Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Len Sweet.
Print culture was, naturally, text-based, but also tended to be ‘left-brain’ and analytical. Digital culture is visual ‘right-brain’ intuitive, and story-based. In many ways, it is nearer to the oral communication cultures of many countries outside the West. Indeed Christians, being generally bookish people, do not realise the extent to which many even in the West read little, especially books, and have always learned orally via TV and film.
Video shorts are therefore a natural expression of digital culture, and hugely significant for ‘unexpected’ social-networking evangelism. (For an intentional audience, longer films up to feature length are also strategic.)
There is huge potential, both in sharing conversation-starting video clips on Facebook and other social networking systems, and in creating new video shorts.
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