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Good Practice

Making a video for showing online?

Eve Powers, the Digital Communications Officer at the Diocese of Manchester has created this brilliant short 'how to’ video on making good quality videos for churches. Even if you’re not making a video you’ll still enjoy watching this

Kenneth Padley of St Michael’s, St Albans writes:

A new departure for us that may work for some churches with heritage buildings is to produce an 'online tour' - not a dusty history/architecture leaflet but a 'pilgrimage' which includes appreciations from members of the congregation. I am hoping this will keep regulars in touch with their building even though they cannot access it but also act as a longer-term resource for potential visitors and educational trips. Initial uptake of episode one implies it is fulfilling this first need. More in production...

Video streaming resources

Kerith Community Church, Bracknell

Ben told us that from an online point of view, here is a list of a load of things that they have been trying to do and have found successful (in no particular order):

  • Making your streamed meeting easily available (on your website homepage, for example) and available to watch 24/7 (not just at your service time)
  • Keeping the language seeker-friendly, not using terms which are only ever heard in church, that can exclude people (asking non-churchgoing people to watch your stream and spot them, they will always find loads you never realised!)
  • Make multiple references to where our physical locations are - even if we are not currently meeting at them.
  • We have 'online hosts' on our YouTube feed to welcome and engage with people on the chat function.
  • We have a 'connect with us' button just below the online stream, where you fill in a few details and someone will connect with you the following week. We also reference this at least once or twice in the meeting.
  • We are currently pushing an Online-Alpha course
  • We are learning that people are not engaging with worship like they do in a physical meeting (due to distractions, other people around, unfamiliar way of engaging etc), so we have reduced our worship down to 2 songs (around 10mins).
  • We are trying to include as many different people from our community in the meetings - so we have different hosts, worship team and response teams most weeks.
  • Our meetings are currently pre-recorded, but our Senior Pastor or our Site Pastors go onto Facebook live straight after the meeting just to chat and engage with people. We describe this as the handshake on the way out! (this has actually been hugely popular, particularly for those who don't have much interaction with others during the week).
  • Our meetings are currently subtitled for our BSL community (we are lucky to have multiple professional transcription people.

Beccy added:

  • At the start of the lockdown we turned all our physical forms virtual (‘new to church’ card, prayer requests, giving and ‘new volunteer to help’ and 'I need help' forms). We then reset our website home page so people could be told to 'click on the links' in the Sunday meeting notice section AND we had to work out a flow of how we are going to administrate these requests as they came in.
  • We cleared all events out of the church diary so the ‘What's On’ page didn't look sad!
  • We tried to keep to the same flows as we use on a normal Sunday - so we use a Churchsuite 'New to Church' flow and rather than it being one for each site we've moved it all to the largest site flow for now!
  • New to Kerith’ events- we are thinking of an online event if we have numbers, at present the new to church response forms aren't huge- about 7 (although we know there are LOADS of new people watching the stream)
  • HOST team themselves- we decided that we need to keep training our volunteer HOST team leads in this season so have set up a Zoom chat and pray before the Sunday meeting for the team that would have been on – it’s keeping consistency and connection and making our leaders LEAD in this season which has been great for training purposes. The teams come in their tops if they want to as well to keep that sense of 'normality'.
  • Social media is now HUGE for keeping church connected and we've started Instagram story takeovers every other day from a family/individuals in the church to get some sense of family. Our daily Prayer cast 15 mins on Facebook has gone from 70 to 250 + in this season at 6:45 every morning! And we are resetting for an Alpha (it would have been our term off!).

What about those not online?

Great idea from our curate at my home church. Some elderly people have no laptop or smartphone. The only way to access morning prayer and home group was through phoning into Zoom. He has asked members for old smartphones. He has then put on the relevant software, the church will pay for a monthly sim (some recipients may give a donation) then they can access Zoom and the weekly online service.

It is possible to set Zoom up so people can access it by telephone only (for those without the internet) if you have a Zoom account. But beware of costs. It is possible to ensure that it is a local number but make sure you do that otherwise people will have huge phone bills. Some churches make their services available for people to phone in for the audio version. Here are two comments we have received:

  • Have just set up Dial-in Compline using Whypay for those with no internet access.
  • ‘Google Meet’: There is a telephone number to call, and on doing so you are asked to put in a pin number and that gets you through to the service. Our man has booked the same telephone number and pin number until the end of June, so that we are not having to tell everyone every week.

There is also a dial out service available: The Parish of East Leightonstone Blog

Other churches make the service available on DVD or CD for those with no internet.

Note there are plenty of go-to-guides for dial-a-service - see especially Revd Bryony Taylor's blog, or PaulFP's video on this subject. See also, John Truscott's Speaking To Camera Tips.

Lexi’s top tips for self-tapes

Lots of churches are asking people to contribute to the services. Here are some tips from 5-year-old Lexi about how to go about making self-tapes.

YouTube and ‘Made for Kids’

One query we had was about YouTube’s ‘Made for Kids’ designation. One church felt that because they had a couple of slots in their service designed to appeal to younger ones (which also delights the older audience) they needed to designate the service as ‘Made for Kids’. But this turned off any comments which made any live engagement with the congregation impossible, even if they ‘premiered’ the service. They felt uncomfortable about not designating it as made for kids. The advice we received is as follows:

When YouTube say ‘Made For Kids’ it's quite subtle what they mean:

  • If a video is particularly made for children (the primary – if not only – target audience is children) then you click ‘Made For Kids’.
  • If a video only features a small element that is for children, or if a video is OK for children to watch (eg. there is nothing offensive or adult in content that is not suitable for children) then you don’t mark it as ‘made for kids’. (Eg. a regular Sunday meeting geared towards adults and children is not ‘made for kids’. A purely kids work focussed video can be marked as ‘made for kids’.)

There is a separate App to the standard YouTube app called ‘YouTube Kids’ that will feature only videos that are listed as ‘Made For Kids’. So if you have your Sunday meeting including both kids work and the adult meeting, don’t list it as ‘Made For Kids’. It is possible, if you wish, to take the kids element of church and upload it to YouTube as a separate video and mark that as ‘Made For Kids’.

Here's a video explaining what "Made for Kids" means.