Can a church or minister use a vlog to expand their ministry, help grow believers or reach people for Jesus? Some people think the new craze of vlogging is the next big thing for the church.
Are you familiar with vlogging? First, we had the weblog, which the Internet quickly shortened to a blog. Writers on a blog are bloggers. When YouTube came along in 2005, people soon started to point a camera at themselves and speak to their audience using webcams instead of writing on a blog. That birthed the concept of the vlog, short for video blog.
A lot of Christians, including pastors, started using vlogging to support, expand and enhance their ministries. Is vlogging your ministry the next big thing?
The History of the Vlog
The vlog took YouTube by storm with thousands of people sharing a kind of daily video diary of their lives after Google bought the site in November 2006.
For the first few years, video blogging or vlogs felt narcissistic. The early versions were painful to watch. Then some entertaining personalities added high-quality film techniques to the brand new video genre and mostly kids got hooked.
Facebook added video and now many people post videos about their lives or rants about annoying experiences on the social media site. Your friends probably share these in your timeline. They’re hard to avoid.
Casey Neistat, one of the most popular and skillful filmmakers in the vlogging world, grabbed my attention after my son recommend his videos. Casey inspired a lot of vloggers with his attention to quality filmmaking techniques. Here’s my favorite Casy vlog below with over 19 million views.
Casey and vloggers like him proved that ordinary people with simple tools can create excellent videos.
Can Vlogging Your Ministry Help the Church Fulfill Its Mission?
I have become all things to all people so that by all means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22)
He couldn’t conceive of the modern digital world, but if he lived today, many of these Christian vloggers think he might have jumped on YouTube and started a channel dedicated to sharing the Gospel, inspiring churches to support his mission, and teaching the churches plants he started.
I got interested in using blogging for ministry when I discovered Trey VanCamp, a church planter in Arizona. The Documentary gives viewers a look at his life as a pastor, church planter, husband, dad, and lover of Disneyland.
Trey does a great job of presenting his message in a few different kinds of videos.
- Behind the scenes videos showing his life as a family man, bivocational pastor and YouTube vlogger
- Teaching videos with clips from his sermons and church training seminars
- Q&A videos that include his wife, staff members and friends
Channel’s like Trey’s can help fellow church planters feel like they’re not alone. He interacts consistently with people as they comment on his videos. I reached out to him and asked him to make a video for my church to tell us what it’s like to serve as a church planter in the Southern Baptist Convention since we’re both in the same denomination.
Trey Van Camp’s Vlogg Your Ministry Training
Now that Trey’s posted so many videos and amassed a following on YouTube, he’s sharing what he learned with people who want to use vlogging to support and expand their ministry. Trey created a series of tutorial videos that he asks participants to view on their own time. Then participants gather online to share ideas, questions, and encouragement. Once you go through the course, you get lifetime access to the community through the weekly video chats and a private Facebook group. Users post links to their weekly vloggs and ask for feedback. It’s informative, encouraging and helps users grow in their skills as short filmmakers. Take a look at the course on Trey’s website.
Dean Ralls posts videos to his YouTube channel You Matter. Dean’s a brand new vlogger taking Trey’s course. He currently has 8 subscribers (as of the date I wrote this), showing you just how early he is in the vlogging process.
I asked Dean why he started his channel and took Trey’s course. He set four goals for his channel.
- Making relationships with lost people
- Leadership development in the small church
- Give people a backstage look at his life in ministry
It’s not about making my name or church famous. It’s about making Jesus famous.
He hopes his vlog will take the message of Jesus to the lost instead of expecting them to come to him. Like Paul in 1 Corinthians 9, he wants to do what he can to “… be where the people are.”
Joshua Verwers posts videos to his successful ministry vlog entitled Joshua Verwers: Living by Faith. He says he vlogs because…
… the Great Commission simply tells me to preach to people where they are are, and people are online. Practically I vlog because I believe it’s the most effective way to let people see Christ through my life online.
Joshua’s church connects church members with him beyond Sunday mornings so he can disciple them through his videos. He likes that he can extend his ministry beyond his local church setting.
The Next Big Thing
Is vlogging your ministry the “next big thing?” Let’s not overstate it. It’s one more thing for the minister who…
- Likes to create videos
- Doesn’t mind spending some time recording events in their church or life
- Wants to reach a younger audience with the Gospel
- Sees the need to expand their ministry’s reach beyond their building and even their city or town.
Trey told our group about a message he received from one his viewers. She discovered his channel because of his popular Disneyland vlogs. She kept watching his channel because she liked the content and enjoyed seeing his life. His videos inspired her to seek out a church in her town and that all happened because God used him to whet her appetite for spirituality by first posting Disney tips videos. That alone inspired me to start my own vlog. You can find my channel intro video at the bottom.
To find success, vloggers suggest the following:
- Stop worrying about the details and just start. You learn more from doing than watching.
- Focus early on audio even though it’s a video. People will forgive video quality issues but they will quit watching if the audio sounds terrible.
- Use what you have but try to upgrade. Today’s modern smartphones film in great video. Adding an inexpensive mic to the mix will take the quality higher.
- Always choose an enticing image to use as the thumbnail and give it an intriguing title
How to Get Started
We don’t have room for a comprehensive guide on how to get started. However, you can find a lot of tutorials online. Consider Trey Van Camp’s Vlog Your Ministry course. He will start a new one probably later this summer or fall. It costs $197 to join. To sample his training, take a look at his tutorial on creating a welcome video. It only costs $20. He made a great video for potential guests to his church, which meets at a movie theatre. It got the attention of one of the most popular Church Technology Vlogs, Pro Church Tools by Brady Shearer.
Find some entertaining Christian YouTubers and follow their channels. Here’s a list of some of the Christian vloggers I enjoy. Watch them and learn by seeing. Check out the descriptions of their videos because they often post links to the tools they use to create their films.
Finally, I’m just getting started with my vlog. I have a bunch of podcasts on both YouTube and Anchor, but I started using my other Gmail address and YouTube account for a new vlog.