I was going through my hard drives today trying to find a particular shot from an old project, when I stumbled across some comedy pieces I put together for my church a couple of years ago. Watching productions after putting them to bed for a while is always an enlightening experience (and probably one of the most helpful things you can do to improve your work) and I was a little nervous. I was relieved to see that they were in fact funny after all.
The biggest take-away was the fact that I can't believe the kinds of things we get away with during our annual missions conference. It is a fun time, and the highlight of the year for our church. There is always some ribbing of our guest missionaries--if you can call comparing them to Charles Manson "ribbing"--and they seem to enjoy it. The fact that it is balanced out with a heavy dose of appreciation for their calling and an abundance of gifts probably makes it okay.
Having been in well over 1,000 churches in the past 15 years, I can tell you that the kind of videos we produce at my church would never work in the majority of them. Not because the people would not enjoy them, but because the staff would be terrified to put themselves in silly situations for fear of losing the respect of their people. I think that is a shame, because the bond that is formed between the staff and the church members through this kind of thing is priceless.
I will never forget as a young preacher's kid visiting a friend's house on a Sunday afternoon. As we were eating dinner, my friend's older sister commented that she always assumed that my family ate mostly steak dinners and other fine foods. Truth was, meatloaf was about the fanciest we ever got. Church members, especially young Christians, often have misguided assumptions about the pastoral staff.
In short, I think it is good on special occasions to get the pastor and staff to have a little fun--and video is the perfect way to do it. Put them in a funny situation and exaggerate their personality traits a little. No need for a fantastic script or even a real plot. Just make them a special agent or a sports hero and everyone will eat it up. The end result will be a staff that is viewed as more approachable--which should be the goal if we want to have maximum impact in people's lives. We will talk about some specific ideas in future postings, but in the next day or two, I will post some of the missions conference videos we have done in the past.