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Examples of Good (and not so good) Mission Videos . . .

May 01, 2018

It can be really difficult to come up with the ideas and inspiration for creating great videos for your ministry, so in this article I thought I would just share with you some examples of different videos that various missionaries and mission agencies have made over the years.  

The sample videos below are an assortment of support raising videos, missionary interviews, promotional videos for mission agencies, mission updates for supporters, and other deputation related materials. It is my hope that these sample videos can help you find the inspiration that you need for creating your own video, as well as help you to take note of things you may want to avoid as you begin putting together your own ministry videos.

A Missionary Life

I am intentionally putting this video first on the list because it is by far the best (in my opinion). In this short, five minute film, Jenny shares about the life and work that she and her husband are doing in Mozambique.

You will notice that the entire video is in motion (no still pictures), and simple text on the screen adds clarity to the video without being too distracting while also giving a very professional look and feel to the video.

Jenny does all the speaking in this video. She speaks very casually, has a sense of humor, and just sounds very natural in the way she talks and shares about life on the mission field. In the sections of the film where you see her speaking, she is positioned “off center” and does not directly face the camera and does not even look at the camera when speaking. This gives a very professional, “documentary” feel to the film and makes the audience feel like they are entering into the film and even seated across from her as she’s speaking.

The background music is fun but not too loud or distracting. The initial soundtrack is very fitting to the setting of the video clips being shown, it has a feel of being traditional or ethnic to Mozambique but is not too foreign that the audience would feel disconnected or uncomfortable with the foreign style. As the video nears the end you can notice the music change to be more familiar (and relatable) to the audience with a style that sets the mood to inspire the audience.

The entire movie, from beginning to end, communicates to the audience that life as a missionary can be hard sometimes, but the results are worth it!

Italy for Christ

This video is both a good example of what to do and what not to do in video production. It was created by jonwmedia on behalf of a missionary family as both a ministry update and a “thank you” to their supporters.

The movie starts out very well with a very professional feel to the film. The scenery and text on screen makes it clear that the setting is Italy, and the opening scenes really take their time to set the stage and help the audience feel like they are entering in and being virtually transported to the country of Italy.

The first few “still pictures” we see of the missionary family have actually been printed out, hung up, and then videoed as they gently blow in the wind, creating a feel that these “still pictures” are not so “still” but are included among the video footage. This exact style may not work for everyone, but I did find it to be very creative, very impressive, and so much better than just a still image on screen or a still image that has animated “panning” to try to add some motion.

After all of this, however, the style of the video changes and all of a sudden we are left with the feeling that the producer either did not have enough materials to work with or they ran out of “creative juices” after the first minute and a half of production time.

After a very impressive beginning, the movie switches to a standard “slide show” style of presenting still pictures with dialogue. There is enough panning and motion to the pictures to not lose our interest entirely and there are a few video clips and “special effects” to still make it clear that a professional is at work here, but over all it still has a feeling of being very dull and even rather “tacky”.

What’s more, when they start presenting “number of people in the world” compared to the “number of missionaries”, and then the “number of missionaries in the world” compared to how many are working “in Italy”, not only is it so many numbers that the audience feels a little overwhelmed and “lost” but they have also given a false impression of sorts by using a broad definition of “missionary” when counting how many missionaries there are in the world and then switching to using a very narrow definition of the word “missionary” when counting how many missionaries are working in Italy. This does give the impression that there is great need for missionaries to work in Italy, but for anyone who realizes that their statistics are not entirely accurate they begin to question the credibility of the information being shared and even beginning to doubt what other information may not be entirely accurate in the presentation.

Also, for only being a 6 minute video it does feel rather long and tends to “lag” in places or feel a little repetitive at times.

The video does end well, however. The ending brings back the same professional style and feel as how it started out, which helps to tie everything together and remind the audience of why they were impressed with the video at the beginning.

And the video does accomplish its goal of making the audience feel (in the end) like they have been a part of a ministry that is having great impact as a result of their support. The video leaves the audience feeling satisfied and content that their support of this mission is making a difference and is greatly appreciated.

The Hare’s First Term

The Hare family was very creative and unique in creating their own style for their presentation video. They created a sort of “scrapbook” feel in documenting their first term on the field.

Since the majority of their first-term had them focusing on learning the language of Bakoum, they decided to do the entire video in Bakoum. Not only is it pretty cool to hear the foreign language being spoken but it also impresses on the mind of the supporters that this couple has made impressive progress in their language learning efforts. However, it does make for a lot of reading to follow what they are saying, and for anyone who may be a slow reader it might be difficult to keep up. And yet, the English translation is given with very clear text on the screen, so you can definitely tell that they have done their best to make the translation clear and as easy to read as possible.

This video is a great example of how you can combine video and still pictures together and do it well. It can be very challenging to combine motion video clips with still pictures in a way that doesn’t look “tacky”, but the special effects and the over all “scrapbook feel” of the film really brings it all together very well.

The music is all traditional African rhythm which adds a touch of “fun” and “adventure” to the film. The drum rhythm is exotic enough to be entertaining and cool, but also subtle and repetitive enough that it does not distract from the dialogue of what is being said.

Overall the video is very well done, very impressive, and leaves the audience feeling like the Hare’s have been really busy and have had a very successful and productive first term.

A Burden for Unreached People

This video is a great example of how a support raising video can cast vision and inspire people to come along side to support the ministry work.

Because this video is featuring a missionary in their earliest stages of mission work it is less of a mission update and more of an effort to clearly communicate the calling and vision for ministry that God has placed on their heart, as well as a challenge to the audience to consider supporting the ministry work.

The style of this video gives another great example of how combining both video clips and still pictures can be done well.

The music and pictures at the beginning of the video give a feeling of intense urgency and need that is almost overwhelming, it grabs the attention of the audience right away and creates an immediate conviction to take action.

After the initial “stage setting” the music changes to support a more information based dialogue as the missionary lays out the specific goals and strategies for the work they are going into. It is highly informative, but very concise and to the point. Overall it communicates that a lot of thought and planning has gone into developing a strategy for action with both short-term and long-term goals.

In the end, the video leaves the the audience with a realization that the need is great but also a feeling that even though the ministry goals are incredibly ambitious they are in no way impossible but have been strategized in such a way as to be achievable.

Life With the Fulbe

I am probably not the best person to critique this particular video since I am also the one who put it together for a missionary friend of mine, however, I was pretty content with how it turned out and thought I would share it as yet another example of a good mission support video.

As you watch this short video clip you will notice that the video is divided into different sections, and each section is given a “header” to help make the transition smooth and to make it clear to the audience what each section is trying to show or communicate.

One thing that is “special” about this video is the way we incorporated some interviews with local believers. Their dialogue is in the local language with text on screen to help translate and communicate what is being said.

All of the text on screen is fairly large and the font is very simple for the sake of clarity and easy reading. Notice also that the text is either set on a solid colored background or has an outline around it to help it stand out clearly from the video. There is a little in the way of special effects with how the text fades in and out, but more importantly we were especially aiming for the text to be easy to read and easy to follow along with so that the message would come across loud and clear.

When making this video, a lot of the footage and pictures we had to work with were not the best of quality but we did our best with the material we had to work with. There just wasn’t time to re-shoot everything, or to gather new material, which would have definitely improved the quality of the video and been more ideal; but I do hope that as you watch the video you will see the importance of taking the time to get good footage and to use good equipment to get high quality images in preparation for creating your video. True preparation for creating a video should start months or even years in advance with being mindful of the equipment you are using and the quality of pictures and footage you are taking so that when it comes time to actually put together your deputation resources you don’t have to settle for just using whatever you happen to have available in the way of pictures and video clips.

Even if the quality of images wasn’t the best in this video the content of what is being communicated was excellent. This video explains a little about the tribe that is being reached, gives an update of the work that has been done, casts vision for future goals and ambitions, shares some personal testimonies, thanks the audience for their support, and leaves the viewer feeling convicted and inspired – and all that in just 6 minutes – not bad if I do say so myself!

Every 10 Minutes

If you are very short on the amount of time you have to present your ministry you might consider this particular style of video production. There is no dialogue or talking in this video, everything is communicated through the videos and simple text on the screen.

To communicate your message in as few words as possible the videos themselves need to be very well planned out and well staged in order to communicate as much as possible in very short frames. You’ll notice how each video clip is only about 2 seconds long! This makes the video move very quickly and the music is suited to match (and even encourage) this fast pace.

This style of production gives a very high quality, professional feel to the production, but it also leaves the audience feeling almost as if you’re trying to “sell something”. It feels very much like a commercial or advertisement and lacks the personal “connectedness” that other styles can portray.

Personally, I prefer the more personal “connected” style of video for mission presentations, but it really depends on what you’re going for and how much time you have to present your ministry to a given audience.

Here are some other videos you can take a look at for more ideas and examples you can learn from . . .

For more ideas check out the following:

>> 11 Nonprofit Videos That Inform and Inspire

>> Missionary Film Makers – Most Recent Films