Here is a simple and effective way for your church to reach more people – create and share videos.
There has been a tremendous growth in the number of videos on the web. Did you know that YouTube is the 3rd most popular website n the world and the 2nd largest search engine? Guess who is 2nd? Facebook and Facebook has a ton of videos. Yes people are watching a lot of videos.
Did you know your church can use videos to spread the Gospel and grow your church? With today’s technology it is simple but most churches are not using videos to reach people either in their own community or around the world. In this post we are going to give you the basics of how to create a video and some ideas on what they could be about.
First know this, they don’t have to be professionally created. Many videos that go viral with millions of views are shot with a smart phone and have not been edited. Some of the most popular videos include children, so why not let the children of your church make a few videos. It is easy and can be done even if you have just a few children.
In a separate video I’ll be covering how to upload the video to YouTube for maximum exposure along with a few ways to promote the video on various social media channels, but today I’m going to cover ideas for your video and what you’ll need.
What should your video be about?
There are lots of great topics that can be used in a video. Here are a few:
- Christmas video – What does Christmas mean to you. A few questions that you could ask kids include: What is Christmas all about? What is your favorite part of Christmas? Why do we celebrate Christmas? What is the best present you have received? Why did Jesus come to earth.
- Valentine video – What is Valentine’s day? Why do we celebrate it? What is your favorite thing about Valentine’s day? You could include facts that show how the origins of Valentine’s day were Christian. Other questions to include: What is love? What does the Bible say about love?
- Easter – Ask similar questions: What is Easter? What is your favorite part of Easter? Why do we celebrate Easter.
- Mother’s and Father’s Day – What is the funniest thing you remember about your mom (or dad). What is your favorite thing to do together. What makes your mom or dad special? Is there something you want to say to your mom? If you are creating this video early enough you should include information about your Mother’s day or Father’s day events along with a link to the church website.
- VBS or summer events like a mission trip. I recommend creating two videos. The first one would be used to promote the event. Ask kids questions like: How many times have you been to VBS. What is your favorite thing about VBS and the second one I would do at the end of VBS where you get the kids reactions to the event. You can either use those clips to create a new video or use them the following year. If you are creating one for a mission trip you should get some powerful responses from the kids who just returned.
- End of summer, back to Sunday School – Most churches have a fall kick off and a video could be a powerful way to promote it. The video would be similar to the VBS one in that you are using it to promote Sunday School and let the kids talk about how Sunday School has had an impact in their lives.
- Who is Jesus – A few questions to ask could include: When did Jesus live? Who was Jesus’ mother and father? What books of the Bible tell about Jesus? Who was Jesus? Why did he come to earth? Why is having a relationship with Jesus important? This video could go in two directions; first you could use it to let people know about your church and what it offers for children. Second you could use it as an evangelism tool. If you are using it to let people know about your church you’ll want to include information about your church along with an invitation to come visit. If you want to create it to share the Gospel you should link it to a site that gives more information about knowing Jesus. One that I recommend is Steps to Peace with God by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Another one is NeedHim and finally we created one on Memory Cross.
Here are two videos that will give you some idea of how they might look. The second one was created with Animoto. It allows you to create professionally designed videos without any knowledge of video editing and with very little work. There is a cost but it is as little as $8 a month at the time of this writing for a personal plan.
What you will need
Making good videos has become so much simpler over the last 5 years. All smart phones can now take very good videos. A few things to keep in mind are:
- Lighting – make sure you have enough light and be aware of natural light coming in from windows. Shoot a quick video of the room to see if you have anything that is going to be causing you a problem.
- Sound – Be aware of any background noise since it will be picked up by your phone and can ruin the video. Stay 3-5 feet from the person you are videotaping. If you want to back up further consider a inexpensive corded mic. I bought one from Amazon which was under $20 and works great. You might want to pick up the extension cable also.
- You can either pause the video between kids or stop it and then put it together with a video editing program or Animoto or any of the video editing software programs available. If you don’t have someone who can edit the video and don’t have $96 for Animoto then pause the video between shots. You can still get a pretty nice video without any editing. There are also a number of apps available for Android and Apple products (Apple: iMovie, Video shop, Fast Edits)
- Finally keep the sections short. I find under 15 seconds per “scene” works best. You want to keep the video moving.
Give it a try. Most of your kids will really enjoy making the video. Next blog post will cover where to upload and how to tag it so the video gets found. Comments? Leave them in the box below.
Across the country thousands of churches will have millions of kids come to their Easter Egg Hunts, many who are not members. Here are some ideas to turn an Easter Egg Hunt into an event that adds new members and presents the Gospel.
I’ve been to many church Easter Egg hunts where kids come, hunt for Easter Eggs and 30 minutes later go home. This is such a wasted opportunity. A church down the road does it right and this is what I’ve learned from them, plus I’ve thrown in a few ideas from other churches. If you have additional ideas let me know by posting in the comment box.
Many churches gather kids together before the Easter Egg hunt begins. Here are three things you can do during this opening time:
- Have a sign in table where parents are asked for their email address if they want to know about activities going on at your church. In my opinion this is the most important thing because you can now keep in touch with them. For more information click this link which was about collecting and using email address at Halloween but would apply to Easter also.
- Hand out information to each parent with some children’s activities and invite them to come back and worship. It can be as simple as a black and white sheet or something nicer. (If you need help creating a postcard or flyer call or email us)
- Hand out a tract to each kid that explains what Easter is all about. We have some really effective ones available on our website. When you are there order a free sample.
As they gather play child friendly Christian music. The church I mentioned above has a 20 minute Easter play that portrays the last days of Jesus. They are a large church and have the resources to put this on but if your church is not that large or don’t have the time or resources there are a many short videos that you can show. Here are a few from YouTube. To download them to your computer watch the video on youtube and put “ss” in front of YouTube. For the video below the url would be: https://www.ssyoutube.com/watch?v=Y3UKd6LQKng
The following video is by Steel House Media and it does a really nice job of presenting Easter by asking children questions. You’ll have to purchase it but the cost is only $19.95. Here is the link to purchase.
The Skit Guys have a number of videos available. Click here to see their entire Easter collection.
Finally there are many craft projects available which help children understand what Jesus did at Easter. Two of my favorite resources can be found at Ministry-to-Children.com and at Danielle’s Place. If you have other resources post them in the comments box.
If you want help promoting your Easter Egg hunt using Facebook, visit our page on Facebook advertising for churches.
Are you teaching children about God’s love? Here are 3 of our favorite resources that help bring the message of how much God loves us home to children. Most can be used either in church (Sunday School) or at home. If you have other ones you like list them in the comment section below.
Love Is . . . Folding Craft Stick Craft or Plaque Craft
This fun craft project by Danielle’s Place was designed to teach children about love based on 1 Corinthians 13 but could easily be modified to help kids understand how much God loves them. It is quick, inexpensive and easy to make. Click this link to see the specific instructions on how to make. Here are a few verses that you could use with this idea:
- John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
- Romans 8:37-39 – No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Ephesians 2:4-5 – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, evenwhen we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved …
- Romans 5:8 – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
- 1 Peter 5:6-7 – Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
- Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
John 3:16 origami craft card by Memory Cross
This origami folding card has four panels that make an endless loop and illustrates John 3:16. It is a simple way to help children put the most shared verse into their hearts and minds. The video below shows how it folds. For more information, click this link.
John 3:16 Heart Coloring Pages
This can be used with any verse to show how much God loves us. It can be found on the Ministry-to-Children website.
Have another favorite craft that lets kids know how much God loves them? Be sure to post it below with the link.
I decided to write this post after watching the movie on Steve Jobs, reading his last words which I included below and going to a funeral of Jim Sledge. First the words of Steve Jobs.
“I have come to the pinnacle of success in business.
In the eyes of others, my life has been the symbol of success.
However, apart from work, I have little joy. Finally, my wealth is simply a fact to which I am accustomed.
At this time, lying on the hospital bed and remembering all my life, I realize that all the accolades and riches of which I was once so proud, have become insignificant with my imminent death.
In the dark, when I look at green lights, of the equipment for artificial respiration and feel the buzz of their mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of my approaching death looming over me.
Only now do I understand that once you accumulate enough money for the rest of your life, you have to pursue objectives that are not related to wealth.
It should be something more important:
For example, stories of love, art, dreams of my childhood.
No, stop pursuing wealth, it can only make a person into a twisted being, just like me.
God has made us one way, we can feel the love in the heart of each of us, and not illusions built by fame or money, like I made in my life, I cannot take them with me.
I can only take with me the memories that were strengthened by love.
This is the true wealth that will follow you; will accompany you, he will give strength and light to go ahead.
Love can travel thousands of miles and so life has no limits. Move to where you want to go. Strive to reach the goals you want to achieve. Everything is in your heart and in your hands.
What is the world’s most expensive bed? The hospital bed.
You, if you have money, you can hire someone to drive your car, but you cannot hire someone to take your illness that is killing you.
Material things lost can be found. But one thing you can never find when you lose: life.
Whatever stage of life where we are right now, at the end we will have to face the day when the curtain falls.
Please treasure your family love, love for your spouse, love for your friends…
Treat everyone well and stay friendly with your neighbours.
First a disclaimer, I cannot verify that these were penned by Steve Jobs. I found sites verifying and denying the words. I personally did not do any in-depth research since it is not critical to the point of this post. His final words verified by his sister were: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.”
Both lead me to the same conclusion: Life is short. Life is not about us. Life is about living for God. Jesus Christ said he was God’s Son and that no man may come to the Father (God) except through Him. After we have taken our last breath we will stand before God. When that day happens, and it will happen, how well will you have lived your life? I don’t mean how good because none of us can stand up to a perfect God.
That is why Jesus came to earth, to die for our sins so that we could live forever with a perfect God. You have been given an amazing gift but whether you except it, that is up to you. I get a feeling that most of us will live a life that we regret. One that was filled with self love and greed. In 1 Corinthians 13 it says that three things remain: faith, hope and love and that the greatest of these is love.
Life ins’t about accumulating a lot of stuff. No matter what we have, none of it is going with us. Jesus calls the man who accumlated so much stuff that he had to build bigger barns in order to hold all of it a fool. Paul on the other hand when facing his death says I don’t know which is better, to die and be with Christ or to remain so that I can love and uplift God and His people.
That brings me back to Jim Sledge. I knew Jim but not really well. I knew he was active in the church and always greeted me, even when he was struggling with Alzheimer’s. I learned at the funeral that he lived every day like he was going to be standing before the Lord, that the greatest gift he could pass on was to Love God and love each other. That he loved his family and that in the end he did not regret the way he had lived his life.
We only have one life and it is passing quicker every day. Don’t waste your life. God has amazing things that he wants to accomplish through your life. Give your life to Him and see what amazing things he can accomplish through you.
To learn more visit: memorycross.com/learn-more.
Finally trust in God. None us can predict where life will take us exactly, even those who make detailed plans for their life will find life cannot be totally planned out. There are just to many unpredicatable pieces, but God knows all the pieces. He sees the big picture of your life and will guide you if you will only trust in him.
Lastly I wanted to include Steve Job’s address to Stanford in 2005. There is a lot of wisdom in his words.
Gospel Tract Reviews: Do you use Gospel tracts? Why? Which ones do you like best?
Gospel tracts have been used for centuries as a short, effective (or not so effective) way to share the Gospel with both children and adults. While the internet has changed the way many of us share our faith, Gospel tracts can still be an effective tool. They are generally a short read and easy to carry around.
My daughter works at a Seafood restaurant, Sanibel’s in High Point NC and every week she receives 3 to 5 tracts. Some are well done with a personal invitation to visit the church and some are very ineffective.
Here is my opinion on what makes a good Gospel tract:
- Positive message that draws people to God. I personally do not like any of the burn in Hell tracts that she receives. Jesus came with compassion and love. His anger and warning to turn back and follow God or you will burn in Hell was mostly directed toward the religious leaders. While I know of a few stories that someone gave their life to God as the result of receiving at Gospel tract I think most are one step in leading people to God. I like them if they present the full Gospel or have a link to the web with more information. A QR code with a link is even better but I do not eliminate Gospel tracts that do not present the entire Gospel on them.
- An interesting design or graphics that draws attention. If you find one that captures attention either through really cool graphics or a creative design that Gospel tract will far more likely to be read and kept.
Top Gospel Tracts
Here is a list of some of the top Gospel tract companies that you may want to check out. I left out one because I do not agree with their methods (or designs. They make really ugly tracts). I know a lot of people love them and their message but personally I would not want to be standing in front of Jesus trying to explain why I handed out those tracts so here is my “sanitized list”
- Living Waters tracts. They do a lot more than just tracts but each tract that I have seen I’ve liked. Good message and nice design.
- Billy Graham Evangelistic Association – Billy Graham has been a beacon since the 50s sharing the Christian message and his organization continues to spread the Gospel in many different ways.
- Crossway – They are a large publishing house and purchase American Tract Society a few years ago.
- Memory Cross – Ok you are on our site but if you landed here from a search engine we make a variety of origami inspired tracts for children, youth and adults. There is a video below that shows how they fold.
- Tract Planet – They produce tracts both custom and standard
- Fellowship Tract league – They take donations to cover the cost of tracts and then offer them for free if you cannot afford to pay for them.
Here is the video I mentioned that shows how a Memory Cross folds.
What do you think makes a good Gospel tract and which one do you use?
Peace can be an alusive thing in our lives. When I think of peace the first thing that came to my mind was sitting on a tropical beach with the breeze blowing, reading a good book with no cell phone or distractions and no worries. How about you? What is your idea of peace?
I’ve found that the reality of peace and the accompanying traits: contentment, joy, happiness, love, nothing to worry about and no regrets about the past have little to do with where I am or even my circumstances and more to do with how focused I am on my God. I’ve also observed that in other people.
The American dream implies peace can be found by becoming successful and earning lots of money. I’ve never earned a million dollars in one year so maybe I’m below the threshold but from what I’ve seen is that while money can make life more pleasant it cannot give you peace. The children in the Dominican Republic with little in the way of material goods seem to be as much at peace (and happy) as children in my upper middle class neighborhood.
In Matthew 6:25 – 33 Jesus says a lot about peace, worry and joy.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Personally this verse helps me take the focus off me and put it on God and his kingdom. What we do and strive for should not be about us and what we want to accomplish but our focus should be on God. If we do that he promises to transform out lives and we’ll find that peace that may seem so elusive.
One way to do this is to dwell on God’s Word. Matthew 6;25 – 33 is a good one to start with. Here are a few more that you might want to check out:
- John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
- Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Another resource to check out is What does the Bible say about peace? In order to have peace we need to submit our lives to God and allow him to take over our life and then to fill our thoughts with God’s Word. If you would like more information about what it means to follow Christ visit peace with God.
For a long time I was opposed to short term mission trips. They are expensive and it would be cheaper to hire someone in country to do the work but then I took my first trip. It opened my eyes and totally changed my mind. There is something about experiencing life in a third world country that had a profound impact on me.
I’d listened to missionaries talk and show pictures at church but experiencing it first hand was life changing. It gave me a passion for helping and changed my perspective on what I really needed. In many countries they are worried about living where in America we are concerned about our standard of living.
I came across a video that four friends, Matt, Andrew, Chris and Jon made when they decided to experience what it was like to live like 2.8 billion people in the world on $1.00 a day. They decided to go to Haiti a few months after the earthquake and experience what life was like in Haiti, living on $1.00 a day. The experience changed all of their lives and Matt and Andrew started an organization, Poverty Resolutions that sponsors mission trips to Haiti as well as providing ongoing support for the people of Haiti.
There is nothing like experiencing it first hand but this video is as close as you can probably get and if you came across this post because you are going on a mission trip to Haiti it will help you prepare for your trip.
If you are looking to take a mission trip to Haiti Matt and Andrew have some life changing trips set up. Click this link to find out more.
Mission trips have had a profound impact in my life. It is no longer about me and what I can get but about what I can do to make a difference in the lives of children who need help. I’ve been involved in mission trips to the Dominican Republic and that is where I want to help. The pastor that we work with in Barahona Dominican Republic opened an orphanage to house boys ages 7 to 17, most of whom were on the streets. For $1.67 cents per day the Foundation Center of Helping Hands orphanage can feed, clothe, house and educate a child. The orphanage can house 100 children which means they need $5,000 a month.
As I write this there are 35 children and they have been struggling to gain additional funding. If you are reading this and feel called to help click you can visit their Facebook page and click the donate button. I started a website where the proceeds are going to support the kids. As of this writing it has only been up a couple weeks but we hope within 6 months that the site will provide a significant amount of their monthly needs.
God calls us to do what we can. Anne Frank was only 13 or 14 when she wrote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world”. Short term mission trips can change lives. Consider taking a family trip. It would be an amazing trip that your kids would not forget.
If you are looking for some amazing handmade jewelry, clothing, accessories, home decor or Haitian Metal Art visit our site. Every purchase makes a difference in the lives of children. If you are going on a mission trip check out the resources from Memory Cross. They have a variety of tracts for kids in Haitian.
Many people think about visiting at church during Christmas. Here are a few ways you can use Facebook to reach people during Christmas.
Evangelism at Christmas – How to use Facebook
Ready to get started? There are several ways to reach people using Facebook both free and paid. Today I’m going to talk about the paid option. We’ll cover the free option another day. Check back or subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out.
Facebook allows you to reach a very specific group of people using their advertising platform. You will need a Facebook business Fanpage. To get started click here and then create your ad. The first thing you will see is to choose your objective which could include: boost your posts, promote your page, send people to your website, reach people near your business, raise attendance at your event or get video reviews. Several are potential options depending on what you are trying to accomplish. If you have already created a post and want to promote it, choose boost your posts. You could also send people to your website for more information or if you have an event you are promoting you could choose raise attendance at your event. For this example I’m selecting reach people near your business.
When you select this option you don’t (as of this writing) have the ability to target specific groups but you can target men, women, both and age plus the radius around your church. You’ll see something like this.
This is the quickest and simplest way to run an ad on Facebook. Just set your budget per day and how long you want to run the ad. Facebook will tell you approximately how many people you will reach each day. In later posts we’ll talk about other targeting options that allow you to choose a more specific audience.
Here are some of the other ways to reach people and some of the advantages and drawbacks we’ve found.
- Newspaper advertising – This has historically been one of the ways churches have used to reach out to people. If the price is right it might still make sense if you have some extra money in your budget but there are a number of reasons I do not recommend newspapers. First their readership is declining so your ad is going to reach less people. Second people have a tendency to skip over ads. Finally you will reach people who are to far away from your church.
- Radio – Expensive and the reach is generally 50 to 100 miles so people hear your ad and will not travel that far. Also most radio stations are experiencing a decline in their audience.
- Direct mail – The post office has actually done a good job creating a very targeted program called Every Door Direct Mail. While you cannot target the kids of people you want to reach, you can reach everyone in a carrier route. I’ll be covering this option in another post. It is more expensive than Facebook.
Halloween will be here in a week and many churches held their Trunk or Treat on Sunday October 25, 2015. We decided to take our grandchildren to two Trunk or Treats tonight. Both were packed. The weather was perfect which probably helped but I praise God for the huge turnouts.
The first church we visited was Community Bible Church in High Point and they had a good church marketing piece for Halloween. They probably have a membership of 2,000 or so. The children’s pastor, Dave Annan is a friend of mine and I saw his post on Facebook and decided to go. They had a children’s service at the beginning with music, entertainment and a message. There were so many kids there that there was not enough room in their sanctuary to hold them all. We arrived about 10 minutes late and could not even get into the sanctuary.
Afterwards they held their trunk or treat. If logistics can be worked out I recommend having a check in where you ask for parents email address if they want to keep in touch with what is going on at the church. In this case it would have been difficult since there were at least 1,000 kids and parents. They did the second best thing by creating a simple postcard that told about the children’s ministry and gave the website and phone number for people who wanted more information.
Church Marketing for Halloween
It was something that was simple, inexpensive and could be done by every church that holds a trunk or treat. Our church did not do that, but next year we will!
Another good idea that one of the members of the church I attend, Covenant Church United Methodist, did was to hand out stickers instead of candy. Kids had so much candy another piece meant little to them by the end but the last car had run out of candy and were handing out stickers. The kids were loving them because they were something different.
If you decide to hand out stickers Memory Cross has some of the best prices on stickers. You could hand out a sheet of stickers to kids for less than the price of a piece of candy. We also have some fun Halloween tracts that children are sure to appreciate which present the Gospel.
If you attended a Trunk or Treat did you find anything that was particularly effective? Be sure to post it below.
Here are a few pictures from our Trunk or Treat