I suppose I’ve been trying to answer this question from the moment a friend introduced me to Adobe Premiere LE (2001). I just never officially asked it until now. But with thousands of video options for church leaders to choose from, all within a weekly click of the proverbial download button, the question couldn’t be more timely or more relevant.
Should there be a video standard for churches? Of course there should. Theologically, the whole of Scripture speaks of a Creator painting a creation that drips with breathtaking awe and magnificence. Paul indicates that God’s creation is so powerful that His invisible attributes can be seen in creation, even though He Himself is invisible (Rom. 1:20). It’s that beauty, Paul says, that takes away my stupid excuses about God’s existence.
Of course there should be a video standard for churches. The teenage girl part of me wants to whine, “Duh”.
The very first mention of any spiritual gift in the Bible is in the Old Testament (believe it or not), where Moses speaks of the gift of creating art:
“He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.” - Ex. 35:35 (NIV)
Even the way God has created humanity is described by David as something that has been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139: 14). When I look at my wife, I agree with David.
Of course there should be a video standard for churches. That’s not even up for consideration. It’s actually the wrong question to be asking. The right question to ask is this: What should a video standard for churches look like? That’s the real question. The standard will come from an honest answering of three simple questions, and will look different for each church:
Question #1: Does the video convey theological integrity?
This question isn’t the first question most of us think of when we’re talking about video standards. But it should be. Is the video under consideration telling the truth of Scripture? If the video says, or implies something that doesn’t fit with the overall message of Scripture, then don’t even move onto the next set of questions. Just stop right here, and slowly move away from the video.
- Of videos that use “worship” and “music” synonymously. That connection is nowhere in the New Testament. New Testament worship is synonymous with surrender, not music.
- Of videos that treat evangelism as primarily the words we say. God is far more concerned with the glory of the One our actions point to.
- Of videos that guilt people into tithing more. They are out there, and they are popular.
If you think videos aren’t teaching theology, then please think again.
Question #2: Does the video offer artistic beauty?
The videos we create and/or download must be beautiful to look at. In the world of film, there are some key questions church leaders need to be asking here:
- Is there a beauty in the coloring of the film? Whether the film has been colored cool (i.e. “No Country for Old Men”), or saturated with brights (i.e. “Pink Shorts” by Steelehouse Productions), the viewer should be taken beyond the native coloring of a Handicam used at a girls junior soccer game. Trust your eyes. You know it when you see it.
- Is the audio beautiful? Many church videos have audio that leaps in and out of distortion, while others force the user to turn the levels up and down because there is no consistency.
- Is the acting beautiful? Many Christian filmmakers have no budget, so they hire their friends and family to play key roles in their mini-movies. Our team does that too. Just make sure that these people can really act, and are really believable.
Content is not king. Beauty is. Content never changed anyone’s life. Beauty, however, changes our lives every day. If given a video option that nails the topic, but is poorly done, I implore pastors and church leaders to not use that video.
Question #3: Does the video add to what God already wants to do in your service?
Make sure the video adds to, and supports the environment God is already creating in your unique worship services. Your church is unique. Treat it as such. In other words, don’t add a video just for the sake of having a video. Save your time and your money. Only use a video if it really works for you. If you’re trying to “fit” something that doesn’t really fit, then please don’t use it.
A Closing Word
Should there be a video standard for churches? Yes. So may we become church leaders who care deeply about every single piece of media that goes up on the screens of our auditoriums. As we make these decisions, we help shape the direction of filmmakers and artists in the church. It’s bigger, and far more important, than paying twenty bucks for a funny sermon-starter.