Media is a powerful thing. When employed correctly, it can enhance the communication of God’s Word and add a sense of freshness to your messages. Used haphazardly though, videos, photos, and slides can become a huge distraction to the audience. Here are five tips that will help you harness the power of media to develop, not take away from, the biblical truth you are presenting.
1. Make Sure It’s Short
If you’re using a video clip, make sure it doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you plan on playing a video that’s longer than three minutes, it’s likely that you’ll lose your audience. This doesn’t necessarily imply that the crowd will get tired of your video, but it does mean that they are less likely to be engaged when you start speaking again. Once an individual changes gears, it’s difficult to get them back on track.
2. Make Sure It Works
I don’t think it’s possible to overemphasize this point enough. CHECK YOUR MEDIA BEFORE THE SERVICE STARTS. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve see sermons implode (or at least lose their effectiveness) as a result of media not working properly. Always check your videos, slides, and photos beforehand on the equipment you will be using. All momentum and attention comes to a screeching halt when a media element either doesn’t work or turns out to be the wrong one. Plus, it’s always awkward when you mix up a picture of Samson and a shirtless photo of yourself when handing in your sermon slides.
3. Make Sure to Download It
Computers can have a mind of their own. The key is to limit the number of things that can go wrong. That’s why it’s always important to download/rip all media before playing it in service. Playing a video from YouTube or a DVD just adds to the chances of it malfunctioning. Plus, it’s more professional to run media through your presentation software anyway. I also encourage pastors to not run any media off of a USB or external hard drive. An easy way to do this is by downloading Dropbox on your personal as well as presentation computer. By linking these two to the same account, what you save on the Dropbox folder of your device is automatically stored on the presentation machine as well. Google Drive works this way too.
Tip: I use the “Easy YouTube Video Downloader” add on for Firefox to save YouTube videos. Keepvid.com is my second choice, though it isn’t as reliable. To rip DVDs I use Handbrake orFormat Factory.
4. Make Sure the Quality is Good
I know it’s not always easy, but invest time into finding high quality media for your sermons. No one wants to see a pixelated picture of a sloth when you’re talking about laziness. Find a photo that is large enough to fit the screen without stretching it to kingdom come. If you’re playing the “Sweet Brown” YouTube video as an illustration, you might not be able to control the quality of what’s been uploaded online. That’s okay. But when you do have a say, put up good looking products. When it comes to low resolution, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
5. Make Sure to Get Permission
Before using multimedia that you haven’t created or that doesn’t fall into the public domain category, make sure to get permission. Technically, churches are not allowed to play flim clips unless they have a Church Video License (which can be purchased here). There are some sites like www.wingclips.com, that allow you to purchase specific video clips that include the licensing permission along with it.
Here are five tips to think about when using media in your messages. There are many more that we could detail, but we want to hear from you. What tips do you have for pastors who use media in their sermons? Do you have a funny story about a church media malfunction? Tell me in the comments section below.
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