Here’s the gist: Churches are missing the chance to use the Sunday sermon every week for compelling shareable content, starting discussions, and driving newcomers to visit.
You’re probably already working to make your social media accounts worth following. You likely cycle through variations of the following types of posts:
- A nice graphic or image with a Bible verse overlay
- An announcement about an upcoming event
- A sermon quote with a link to the sermon podcast
- A discussion-starter with a simple fun question
That’s all good! The best thing about developing this type of content is that it’s easy and quick to create. The downside is that it can get repetitive, which leads to ever-diminishing engagement.
What’s more, as social media shifts more of its focus and algorithmic preference to video, static posts are losing attention. More people scroll past your images and text posts than ever. You’ve probably seen this over time; fewer likes, fewer shares, and narrower reach.
Most churches stick with this simpler format because it takes less time and resources. After all, there’s a big leap in effort and cost when you go from basic, static, generic content to something more dynamic and unique.
However, and here’s the main point, more dynamic, unique content means more engagement. Social video is really hard to do well on a consistent basis, especially for churches. Church resources, talent and budget, make producing good social videos difficult.
That difficulty also means that there’s less social video out there, which has led to an incredible arbitrage opportunity.
Big churches know what’s up.
The large churches in America are already two steps ahead in this area. They’ve been investing significant resources to produce engaging social videos for years now. And they’ve gotten good at it. They have whole teams dedicated to it. That’s how serious they are and how much they know it will pay off.
They have video teams on Sunday morning getting dynamic shots of worship and preaching, with multiple cameras and a live switcher, all feeding to a central location where it’s streamed online and recorded for later.
Then their dedicated video editing team gets to work on the recording, producing a tight, multi-angle video of the whole sermon along with a half dozen short video snippets designed specifically for social media.
They invest all of those resources because they know that social video works. They know that live streams get watched. They know that eye-catching social videos are more likely to “stop the scroll” than any other type of content.
They have data that proves that when you add captions to a video it gets more views and likes and shares. They have stats about the optimal length of a sermon video clip.
They leverage all of this money, people, and data to drive massive engagement on their social accounts.
What can smaller churches do?
There are real obstacles and challenges for smaller churches to produce solid dynamic and unique content. Most smaller churches don’t have the people or the money to produce the same level of social videos that big churches can create.
What few resources they have are already stretched just to get a sermon recorded and uploaded in its entirety. Rewatching, trimming, adding bumpers, exporting, and scheduling snippets is a whole different level of work.
An online survey of churches that produce sermon video snippets weekly showed that the average time to produce 3-4 snippets is about 2-3 hours per week. That’s a ton of time to create 3-4 pieces of content for social media.
If your team is a mix of full part time ministers and a few volunteers, then carving out 3-4 hours a week is going to be nearly impossible.
Here’s what you should do:
- Start with one sermon per month. Taking the time once a month to create compelling content from your pastor’s sermons is better than nothing.
- Keep your edits simple. You don’t have to create an artistic masterpiece. Just a short clip of your pastor making a compelling point is enough to start.
- Try your best to include captions. 85% of social media users watch videos with the sound off. And data shows that captioned videos get far more engagement than those without. Use rev.com to create the captions.
- Schedule your videos only during the week following the relevant sermon. People will be confused if you post a video of a past sermon.
Use this exercise to refine your workflow, test different lengths, get used to picking out great moments, and find out what style works best for you and you congregation.