The Video Pivot

I suspect the quick pivot to online video many churches have made the past two months will affect their posture for a long time to come. Best case, if in-person church gatherings resume per usual in the next couple of months, those leaders who have spent these weeks learning and improving an unfamiliar medium for gathering and sharing will have a tool in their pocket they didn’t have before (as well as some stories to tell). Worst case, we keep learning and getting better at it–because what other choice is there?

It feels like one element that we’ll have to really focus on in that worst case is the character of video sermons and youth groups. I say “character” and not “quality,” because it’s probably not a matter of technical upgrades, cameras and microphones. Rather, it’s a matter of adapting expressions of church life to the biases of the required medium. Youth group lessons designed to be shared in-person that are recorded and shared online are a different product altogether from youth group lessons that are designed to be consumed as video.

Video is intimate. You face is close to the camera and you look right through the screen. Facial expressions mean a lot. Reading something off camera from three or four feet away, looking down at a book or a script, works to convey that this is a recorded version of something we would normally be doing in-person, but the question is how long we can keep doing that. When will another pivot be required, the one to designing classes, worship services, and small groups first and foremost as videos?

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