More and more parishes are starting to incorporate video on their website. Video can be a great way of demonstrating what your parish has to offer and video is becoming a very common way for people on the Internet to learn and explore.
I’ve received requests from churches on how to videotape and publish their homilies. It’s a nice idea, but not the place to start with video. Video should first be used to help engage and reconnect with your parish. If you’re thinking of getting started with video, the place to start is thinking of it as an engagement or even marketing tool. Video can be a powerful way to help urge potential parishioners or former parishioners to come to Mass. It can be an effective way of communicating your mission. The goal of these videos should be communicate who your parish is and urge the viewers to come to Mass; to be part of your faith community.
In the era of YouTube, these videos need to be short, very short. One to three minutes is probably ideal. For those that don’t know how, we’ll cover how to get started with YouTube and embed video in your site in the article, but I can virtually guarantee you that well over 75% of the parishioners you have that are under the age of 25 now how to do this. You don’t need to hire a professional videographer. You need to find a volunteer within your church to help create one. You don’t need to purchase an expensive video camcorder, your smartphone is one.
Here are a few ideas that you can use:
- Many websites have a written “Welcome Message” from their priest or deacon, but something I would love to see on every parish website is a video form of this. Not only can the priest explain the culture of the community and their mission, the video shows the extra effort to introduce the parish and its members so visitors will come celebrate with them.
- Video testimonials can be extremely powerful. Record parishioners talking about your faith community, how it’s affected their family life and strengthened their relationship with God.
- Pick a question and spontaneously record selected parishioners after mass. What do you love about your church? What my faith means to me? Where do I find God? Or whatever question you wish to ask.
- Get creative! Hold a contest for your parishioners or school children to create a video introducing your parish, where the winning video will appear on the website.
- A lot of Archdioceses have jumped on the video bandwagon as well. If you don’t have the time to create a video right now, check your Archdiocese’s website to see what videos they have already made. I would imagine your diocese would be thrilled to help you incorporate them into your website. For example, if they have produced an annual Stewardship Appeal video, you could place that on your Stewardship or Online Giving page.
- Still can’t find content or think of a good video to use, check out Busted Halo’s video series. They often have a huge collection of very short videos on tremendous amount of topics including the meaning of the Sacraments and Holy Days. They may seem very basic to you, but these videos aren’t for you. They’re for the people you aren’t with every Sunday in Mass.
My parish experimented with video a few years ago. The one video that we produced that received a tremendous amount of views was when on a whim our priest between services on Ash Wednesday offered “ashes to go” and a blessing for anyone who wanted them in the Starbucks parking lot across the street from the church. Now, I know some may object to this approach the priest used, but to the community at large, it showed our priest reaching out and engaging in the community. On our parish website, that video received over 20 times the views the other videos we produced did.
Two great examples of a parish videos are below. Not only does it show images of the community, include testimonials and a messages from the priest, but invites the viewer to, “Come, Join Us.” Now, these two may have been professionally produced, but they offer a great outline of the message to convey.
Remember, keep the videos short and sweet. In our always-on, hype-connected, multi-tasking culture, the best way to guarantee that your video receives few views is to make it too long. If you have 30 minutes of content, great. Make it a video series, not a lecture.
These videos need to be inviting. There’s a lot of hype right now about the need for the Catholic Church to be “more engaging,” but we can’t engage our parishioners until they meet us at Mass! Your website can be a great tool to let them know they have an open invitation.
Author’s note, thanks to Clare Zajicek for many of the ideas in this article.