If you're a small church, you're familiar with the joke that churches are 10 years behind the times.
10 years ago, we didn't have YouTube.
10 years ago, you couldn't upload videos to Facebook.
10 years ago, Vimeo was scarcely a thought.
Yet today, you have free access to all three platforms to store and host your church videos, share your sermons, and create engagement.
Here are the sections to this blog post that you can jump to because it's massive:
If you're wondering what video is in the picture, you can check it out here, along with the rest of the best of the best in faith-based films and videos from 2014-2015.
You, as a church, should be engaging your folks outside of that cozy little 60-minute block on Sunday mornings we all know as "church."
You, as a ministry, shouldn't settle for the same 13 warm bodies every Friday night.
Take our faith outside the walls. Jesus did. Paul did. You can too.
You don't need Osteen's auditorium or Hillsong's reach. You can embrace the fact that God uses the few to impact the many (Esther, Gideon and his band of merry men, the 12 disciples, etc.).
Chances are you're a part of the 98% of churches that are NOT mega churches. Chances are you're a part of that 60% that don't even crack 100 attendees.
While I believe you should be discipled and you should be constantly discipling disciples who in turn disciple others (i.e. you should always be co-laboring with the King to advance His kingdom), you don't have to throw up your hands in surrender just because you're small.
God's given us multiple video/film platforms to share your message, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
His story hasn't changed. Our methods of delivery have.
So get to it. At the end of the post, I'll include a BONUS for you, the church leader, that you might be well equipped to host your videos.
This question was brought up on Quora. Right now, let's look at the top 2 platforms for storing and hosting videos for your church or ministry. For the rest of this walkthrough, I'll use "church" and "ministry" interchangeably.
1. Facebook. FREE.
All you need for Facebook is
- An email
- A picture
My parents' church is a little old methodist church in North Carolina. You know. One of those churches with about 50 people in the church - they don't have a video projector.
They don't hardly even use the acoustic guitar (organ baby!), yet they have a Facebook.
And this is a church of ol' timey baby boomers.
So bury your excuses, and fire up a Facebook page for your church.
Do you think you could honestly reach the 30 and under crowd without a Facebook page?
Carey has a great writeup about this (see his item #6) - churches have to be bolder and more engaged to reach an increasingly separated generation.
Once you have your Facebook page for your church, loading a video on your desktop or laptop is very straightforward.
As of this writing, you CAN NOT upload videos to your Church Facebook page from your phone.
A video is a big dinosaur. It takes up more space than photos or text. Pull out the laptop sledgehammer, and get started.
1. Make sure you are posting as your page, not your personal profile that you log in with to manage your Church page.
2. Select the top option for "Photo/Video," find your video on your computer, then choose it. This will bring you to a screen like this one with lots of options.
a. Make sure it's not just the generic "watch our INSERT COLORFUL SERIES NAME SERMON from Pastor GENERIC PASTOR NAME."
No one cares about the series name.
Remember, your flock wants to know what's in it for them.
Follow this blueprint: summary, encouragement, and call-to-action (CTA).
In June of 2015, I left my job as a salaried employee of a mega church to pursue Church Films full-time. I had a baby on the way and my wife only worked part-time. All year, God kept telling us to trust. So I took a leap of faith, and we are trusting Him every day.
I want you to do the same and choose to TRUST.
We put together a three-month journal to prioritize your quiet time with our Father, plan your day, dream big, and encourage others. It's a free .pdf for you to print out and use, and you can get the goods here: http://churchfilms.com.
It's really important to only have one link.
Some people nuke this and put 13 different links.
Guess what? We're sheep. GIVE US ONE LINK.
It's the lion tamer principle. Too many points of contact confuse us.
b. Like YouTube or Vimeo, you need to upload your own thumbnail (picture).
Especially if it's a talking-head video, your video will likely load with a default still (random frame from the video) that's not very flattering.
Always upload your own picture - something you picked out ahead of time.
Note: if you are going to promote your video through paid advertising, you cannot have text fill more than 20% of your image.
If it is indeed a video you will promote, you need to choose an image that's relevant of course.
It's the first impression.
Don't upload a picture of a cat if you're promoting a video about your upcoming men's retreat.
c. I leave faith-based videos on the "other" setting.
This is your call.
The other categories aren't as indicative.
d. There are several options here.
I like "sign up," "download," and "shop now" because they are pretty clear CTA's.
If you're loading a sermon or really any other church video, you could try "watch more."
This button is "optional."
For you, it's not an option. You always need a CTA.
You want people to go and share the hope we have in Jesus.
Otherwise, we just roll in like Nirvana sang: "Here we are now. Entertain us."
3. After you have filled out the info, hit upload.
If you're on a desktop, your videos will be to the left under photos.
If you're on your phone, your videos will be above your photos.
4. You can feature this video or pin it to the top of your Church page to be your virtual "billboard."
If it's important, pin it.
5. You can add your video to a playlist.
This makes the most sense if you're running a series or anything thematic where you need to group similar videos.
a. Go to your video menu.
b. Click the "edit playlist" button.
c. Select "change videos."
d. Videos that are already in your list are blue. To add another video, just click it.
6. You can share your video anywhere.
Facebook has over a billion users. BILLION.
By default, your video will play in SD. But the "HD" button in the lower right hand corner allows you to toggle HD on and off.
Still confused about SD and HD? Take a minute and learn the difference.
So why Facebook again?
Post/upload your video as your church page, not your personal page that you log in as.
Choose the top option "photo/video," find your video, then fill out the info fields.
Hit the blue "publish button."
Pin and/or favorite your video.
Group this video into a playlist, especially if it's a sermon or thematic in nature.
The beauty of Facebook is sharing, so share that turkey!
2. YouTube. Also Free... Mostly.
You need the exact same things for YouTube as you do Facebook.
But in my estimation, YouTube - since it's been hosting videos far longer than Facebook - has a lot more bells and whistles to it.
Let's keep it simple.
You want to take your sermon, VBS highlight video, testimony video, etc. and upload it.
Good. YouTube is still a titan for web traffic.
The best thing going for YouTube is it's ridiculously easy to shoot a video and upload it, then share it.
Your phone can take a video and a default option should be to share it to YouTube.
It's incredibly universal.
Let's assume you're on a desktop. If you're uploading anything that's been edited or that's over 5 minutes long, I doubt you will want to do this from a mobile device.
If you have a gmail account this is an easy login. If not, go create one. Google offers free products across the board, and the cost of admission is creating an email address.
1. Login to your YouTube dashboard. Look for the upload button in the top right corner.
2. The next screen is pretty cut and dry.
Leave it on public.
You're sharing the message of hope!
Unless it's a preview file for internal use, leave the default setting alone.
Note: the other options are "unlisted" and "private."
a. Unlisted - available to anyone who has teh video link
b. Private - requires a password to watch
3. Fill in everything in the dialogue box that pops up.
a. Same as before, you want to follow the blueprint of
- Encouragement (you're a ministry for Pete's sake - show some love!)
- Call-To-Action (CTA)
If you didn't read this part of the blog already, click here.
b. Use tags (think hashtags) to make your video index easier in searches.
CAUTION : don't use a typing accelerator in this area (like aText) if you're using routine tags.
For example, I use "Go Boldly, Church Films, Bold Nation, Christian Podcast" as a base set of tags for my podcasts.
If I add them via my typing accelerator to YouTube in the tags field, I'm hosed.
c. Same as before, you want to upload a custom thumbnail.
Let me repeat that.
UPLOAD A CUSTOM THUMBNAIL - ALWAYS.
If you don't, you will likely have a discolored, low-res, and/or unflattering thumbnail, like this one.
d. Chances are you will need to add this video to a list of some sorts.
... a sermon series
... a round of testimony videos
... your announcement videos
... your videos of Uncle Bob (every church has one)
Even if you don't want to group these, you need to do it for your audience.
It makes searching easier.
It's for them. Your video is for them. Not you.
You can create a new list or add your video to an old one.
e. Monetization is something you can look into.
If it's your video through and through (and all of its ingredients, like music), monetize it.
Reread the parable of the talents and be good stewards of God's resources.
f. The advanced tab is just that.
Most of those options you will leave alone.
The category is something I leave on "film and animation" because it's in our name - FILM.
Choose what's best for you.
They do not have:
But they do have nonprofits.
4. At this point, you're ready to hit that shiny blue "publish" button in the top right corner.
5. Once the video finishes uploading, you will notice a set of options below the video.
The pencil is for making edits to the information you already entered.
The option for annotations looks like a dialog box.
It’s a way for web users to click on your video and be redirected to another site, video, etc. Don’t use these. Let me repeat. DON’T USE THESE. YouTube is phasing these out for the newer “cards” option.
Also, the annotations do not work on mobile devices. So just skip these because mobile users account for at least half of your viewers. HALF. And that number will grow.
The cards, however, work across all platforms - desktop, tablet, and phone.
Select what you want the card to link a user to - your ministry website, another church video, etc.
Then drag the cursor along the timeline to where you want the card to pop up.
The little info symbol will remain clickable in the upper right-hand corner throughout the video, no matter what device you are using. The timeline is simply a way to let YouTube know “Hey! Show this the info and picture to my viewer at this time!”
NOTE: you can’t have a card send a user to any ole crazy website. It has to be your YouTube channel, one of your videos, or your website. Don’t fear. There’s a way around it. If you want to direct a user to your ministry’s Facebook page, for example, you will have to use a URL mapping with your website. I used
/youtubefacebook -> facebook.com/churchfilms 301
You have to check with your host (Squarespace, Wordpress, etc.) to implement a URL mapping.
If that last part is complete mumbo jumbo, make a mental note to look up URL mapping and just direct a viewer to your church home page or other landing page in the meantime.
As of this writing, you can have up to 5 cards per video - DON’T. Use only 1 card per video. Remember the lion tamer principle! You don’t want more than one CTA (call-to-action) for your audience!
One last word about these “post-publishing” tools. To the right of the “cards” option you’ll see “subtitles.”
In my experience (which is all of one video at this point), YouTube does an okay job auto-subtitling. Google is very sophisticated, and with enough time, it will become a very effective tool.
If you want to subtitle a short video, let YouTube try, then go back and edit as necessary. Don’t try this feature on a sermon!
This subtitles feature alone sets it apart from Facebook video, but there are other features that make YouTube the place for maximum control of your videos.
6. Use the Creator Studio as needed.
Here, you can search the YouTube audio library for CC0 (public domain) music tracks or a handful of music tracks that you can use with attribution only.
“Falling Down” by Ryan Little courtesy of http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Ryan_Little/
is a simple attribution I can include in my video and/or below it in the description.
You will also notice an option for live streaming in the Creator Studio.
If your church is a small fry, don’t worry about live streaming just yet. I will talk more about it later as I roll out the blueprint to launch a church for under $10,000. Christ loves the church - let’s plant more of them!
7. Share your video!
Underneath the name of the video, you will see the option to share, embed, or email your video.
The URL that crops up from sharing is the easiest one. You can also copy the URL from your web browser.
If you have a website, you might use the embed feature. Might. It seems to be less of an issue these days with hosting sites being more and more accessible to everyday joes.
See all of the options to share your video? Stick to Facebook. If you are a church, you should have:
A dedicated video platform (YouTube)
And one other social media platform
And that’s it. Don’t spread yourselves too thin. Remember the game of Risk? You are not doing anyone any good with mediocre stuff spread out across the web. Focus on quality.
These days I mostly just focus on Instagram, and I occasionally load videos onto Facebook and YouTube. Sometimes I retweet someone, and I use Twitter for research.
But I am sticking with Instagram for now. In 2 months, the Church Films account has tripled its following.
What’s your one platform?
8. Speed up your video.
To do this, hit the cog wheel in the lower right-hand corner.
Select the speed option to slow your video down. Facebook doesn’t have this feature yet.
The best thing about a YouTube video is its ability to speed up the video.
It’s not like the ole days of VHS.
When you fast-forward these puppies, the audio speeds up in a very natural way.
Which makes for quicker learning.
9. Change the resolution.
Facebook has two settings. SD and HD, and the default is SD.
YouTube detects your connection and auto-plays the most sensible resolution for you.
But you can choose from several options, up to the max resolution of the file you upload.
You can also show your video in 4k (not that you need this for your church any time soon, let alone the consumer world - it’s all marketing hype).
Eat that Facebook.
The one downside to YouTube?
You might sit through ads before your video.
You might sit through an ad during your video if it’s a certain length.
For example, I was going through a ten-minute workout video the other day, and the video stopped 5 minutes in to show me an ad.
What the deuce?
YouTube released a new, paid service about two months ago so you can dodge the ads, YouTube Red.
It’s $9.99 a month, and I’m not an affiliate.
I’m sure Facebook will follow suit.
3. Conclusion - FREE IS FREE.
Here are the not-so-fun facts I've been avoiding until now.
The video requirements for these platforms - let's knock these out in one fell swoop-
-next week. If you want them. Comment below to let me know.
You have a wealth of choices.
Facebook is just so easy because we all log in there to check for messages every day anyways.
YouTube has more features.
Facebook doesn’t allow you to speed up videos or choose your own resolution. But it will.
YouTube is clunky at times and it doesn’t have anywhere near the built-in, customizable advertising features that Facebook does.
If your ministry needs to promote a video to a certain audience, you’d go broke with Google ads. Facebook is far better and way cheaper at reaching 25-year-old single dads who buy designer clothes for toddlers, if that’s who your ministry is trying to reach.
So there you go. I've used and still use both platforms for uploading videos.
I want you to do the same for your church/ministry.
I put together a resource for you, a simple .pdf with all of the information in this blog post - plus:
- You'll get the scoop on the third platform Vimeo and its detailed walkthrough
- You will learn the 3 best online places for storage. Videos take up so much space, and you'll need some cloud storage.
Comments? Questions? Let me know below. This ministry exists to serve the Lord, His church, and His people.