December 20, 2012

Christmas Messages

We all know that Christmas and Easter are the times when our churches will be more crowded than other times of the year. How are you using social media to share your congregation’s message of welcome during Advent and Christmas?

I’ve recently received two Christmas messages – both short videos – that I’d like to share. These videos were created using equipment many of us have at hand: A video or still camera (could be the camera in your smart phone) and basic editing software. And, with many who own smart phones using their video cameras to create short videos for fun, it is likely there may be someone in your congregation - perhaps a teenager or young adult - who would welcome being 'tapped' to help.

Would Christmas Disappear? is a fun ad that reminds me of long ago Sunday school classrooms with Bible stories acted out through the magic of felt boards. Created by Laurie Wozniak, communications director for the Diocese of Western New York, this ad can be customized for individual parishes and used on Facebook or other social media sites in addition to a congregation's own website. Learn more about how Laurie made this ad here.

Hannah Wilder, communications director in the Episcopal Dioceses of San Diego, inspired by the videos regularly created and used by her peers in the Episcopal dioceses of North Carolina and Utah create, worked with her bishop to create a video Christmas message. Much like Laurie’s Would Christmas Disappear? and the Diocese of Massachusetts’ “Monk on the Street” video How the Church Wrecks Christmas, Bishop Mathes’ message has an unexpected twist…

Each of these videos – short sermons really – lend themselves well to social media, offering a way to for congregations to reach out to those I call ‘the people we don’t know yet’ in our communities, people who may be seeking a spiritual home.

Here are some resources to help you get started creating your own video:

Two new companies I learned about earlier this week, Directr Inc. and Storytelling Machines offer resources for helping amateur movie makers get started. Directr offers a free app which lets users make 'real movies in minutes' and Storytelling Machines offers a free trial to help you make a video in 5 easy steps. I haven't tried either one and welcome people who do to share their experience in the comments section below.

Would Christmas Disappear? from Communication Office on Vimeo.