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14 Commandments of Video Preaching


[Editor's Note: This article by Jim Tomberlin first appeared on CTT back in 2012. It's advice is still current today – we hope it helps you understand the in's and out's of video preaching.]

Of the estimated 8,000+ multisite churches in North America, half deliver their sermons by way of video and the other half utilize live-in person teaching.   With this many people worshiping and receiving spiritual instruction in this manner, it is very important to keep these “commandments” in mind when delivering sermons live as well as via video.

1. Thou Shalt Omit References to Time, Day, and Weather. The most difficult thing is to remove all references to time of day, day of the week, and the weather.  Avoid “tonight” or “Saturday.”  Better to use words like “today” or “weekend.”

2. Thou Shalt Place the Camera Well. Position the camera where it is the easiest and most natural for the speaker to look into. Don't make it awkward for the speaker by forcing him to crane his neck to peer into the camera.

3.  Thou Shalt Include Everyone. Look directly into the camera near the beginning and end of each message. This makes a video audience feel included.

4. Thou Shalt Practice Good Eye Contact. When speaking, it’s very powerful to look directly into the camera periodically throughout the message; especially when addressing the off-site campuses and at drive-it-home moments, eyeball the camera.

5. Thou Shalt Use Lighting to Your Advantage. Use camera lights in a way so that the speaker will know which camera is the live camera. In other words, make it easy for the speaker to do their job well.

6. Thou Shalt Help Everyone Feel Included. When praying or making applications, include references to the people in the off-site campuses. Once in a message is all that’s needed to make hundreds of people sitting in an auditorium miles away to feel included in their own church.

7. Treat Everyone as Equals No Matter Where They Are. Avoid words like “satellite” and “main” campus. They connote in-equality.

8. Thou Shalt Avoid Awkward References to the Worship Team. References in the message to worship leaders or vocalists by name can be awkward or meaningless because they are different at the other campuses.

9. Thou Shalt Avoid Unruly Camera Shots. Avoid camera shots that remind viewers that they’re not there such as audience reactions, audience cut-away shots, or side-shots of the speaker.

10. Thou Shalt Keep the Camera Shot Tight. Stay with continual close-up head shots (video needs to feel larger-than-life), minimizing the number of full-stage and full-body shots.

11. Thou Shalt Not Distract Viewers with Distracting Backdrops. Make sure the backdrop behind the speaker is not a distraction. Remove anything that isn't essential and keep it uncluttered and simple.

12. Thou Shalt Include Images That Correspond with Speaker References. Make sure the videocast includes anything the speaker references (For example: “That’s her picture you’re now seeing on the screen.”)

13. Thou Shalt Make Sure Every Speaker Knows These Commandments. Be sure to give these guidelines to any guest speakers so that they too can make the most of your church's video ministry.

14.  Thou Shalt Smile as Much as Possible. Smiling helps connect your audience and keep people engaged. Smile a lot!

Remember as you prepare your messages to be mindful that you’re teaching a multisite flock that encompasses more than those in the room with you. They see you as their pastor and spiritual leader. They feel connected to you, they love you. They come because of the spiritual teaching they receive from you.

Jim Tomberlin
Jim Tomberlinhttp://multisitesolutions.com
Jim Tomberlin began his multi-site church journey in the mid-1990s when he was the senior pastor of Woodmen Valley Chapel. In 2000 he went on to pioneer the multi-site model at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. Since 2005 he has been consulting and coaching churches in developing and implementing multi-campus strategies. As Founder and Senior Strategist of MultiSite Solutions , Jim leads a seasoned team of practitioner specialists who can help you maximize the redemptive potential of your church.


  1. I disagree with 9 and 10. Cutaways to the audience bring you into the room with them. They’re also helpful for b-roll to cover cuts that the editor has to do.

    Close shots should be the norm, but an occasional wide shot might help the viewer engage. A tight shot on a moving pastor is sometimes really annoying. In fact, I can say the constantly moving background (because the pastor is moving and the camera has to keep him/her in the shot) will be MORE annoying and obvious with a closer shot.

    I’d replace those with “Thou shalt keep within the time alloted.” One of the pastors I edit consistently goes 20 minutes longer than we have for satellite services. Every time he speaks, we have to figure out some way to cut out something (without making it obvious). Chopping off the beginning or end aren’t options, so we’re stuck trying to cut out a story or two in the middle and trying to find a way to pick it back up where no one will notice.

    Other than that, great stuff. I want to echo the time stuff. It will be really hard not to mention the big game that happens after service, but it’s such a distraction to say, “Let’s hope our billy goats win another one” when the viewer the next day (or week) knows they did (or didn’t).

    • Hey Paul! Thanks for adding your two cents. I know my readers really appreciate another point of view. Love your addition to stick to the time alloted. We’d all gain years of our lives back if more speakers would adhere to this one . . .


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