Using video well to provoke thought
A great way to complement other things in a church service with video is by using it to provoke thought. I hope that if you’re part of a church then your church leaders are really keen for you as a community to engage with God’s word, the Bible. That’s one of the main reasons we meet together, isn’t it? As a community of God’s people, we hear God speak and so seek to live for him, spurring each other on. So how do you do that as a church? I hope at the minimum you read the Bible together. And I assume you probably have a talk on the Bible from your pastor. And I hope the aim of both of those is what I mentioned above. So how do you use video to complement these?
A short video can be effectively used earlier in the service to ‘warm people up’ such that when they hit the Bible reading and/or sermon they are in a better headspace for hearing the Word together. Your purpose of using the video is to get them thinking about what they’re going to be challenged about. It may be that you use it to raise questions, challenge assumptions, or even start dealing with roadblocks – you know that baggage that people bring to their reading of the Bible or applications that are made? A video can do this in a way that you can’t. It can give people the space to start those questions rolling and visuals that might raise things you can never articulate. Yet at the same time, because it’s a video designed to specifically provoke thought, it won’t be taken as the authoritative word. But rather, it should stimulate people’s minds so that they are better prepared to consider main points and applications of the Bible reading and sermon. Let me give you some examples of different styles of videos that are useful for provoking thought in different ways…
This is the video style where you use animated text to carry the video. You can use this style for lots of other purposes too – like Bible reading, teaching, or even to tell a story. I think a great way to use this style is to provoke thought. The most common example of this video style used for this purpose is by asking questions with the text, and then using animation and text to demonstrate or tease out these questions. “What’s God’s Will?” is a good example. They have used kinetic typography to cleverly provoke thought about what people might be asking about how to know God’s will.
This video style obviously has a very wide range of use. When used to provoke thought, you can put together something that gives a short grab of a person’s life and presents an idea about something. They’re often good for provoking thought because it’s easier to avoid preaching. You just raise an idea. I like the way “Blindness” does this. It’s short and visually stimulating, as well as intriguing – you’re waiting until the last shot to see what the blind man is painting. And then it simply leaves you with the question of what it means to really see. I’ve used this to lead into a talk on Ephesians 1, claiming we all need our eyes opened to who Jesus is, as well as a talk about what many people are like in the western world who though they are well off, they close their eyes to who God is.
I think if you’re going to use vox pop at all, use it to provoke thought. It’s often a bit lame for advertising and I hate it when it is used to build a straw man. But if you want to get people thinking about something, give them a range of people’s thoughts or questions on the topic to get them thinking. You also need to do it well though. “Lies” does both. It’s based around a simple idea (on a bus and using masks, both of which create an isolated yet confidential environment – you feel like you’re invited in to some of these people’s secrets. It also gives a good range, and offers some observation without making judgement. Good for provoking thought!
This is part of a series on using video well