One of the questions we get asked on a regular basis is how to develop and train volunteer media teams. And while we don’t often have volunteers on our team, we know that they are an integral part of a lot of church media teams. So, since we aren’t as experienced in that area, we talked to someone who was. Today we have a special guest post from our friend, Justin Piercy. Justin works in the Service Programming Division at Connexus Church, a North Point Strategic Partner just outside of Toronto. I have seen his leadership at Connexus first-hand, and I was completely blown away by two specific things: 1) the quality of media their team is producing and 2) that his media team is almost all volunteers! His heart for his volunteers is infectious and his love for the local church is incredibly inspiring. So we asked Justin to give us a peek behind the curtain of their operation and let us know what he’s learned developing one of the most impressive volunteer-based media operations I’ve ever seen.
Everybody, meet Justin…
Creating media that leaves a lasting impression can be very challenging within the context of a small church or ministry. During my time at Connexus Church, a strategic partnership of North Point Ministries, one of my top goals has been developing a team to produce large amounts of media. Since Connexus is a multi-campus church and does some locally developed content on Sundays, our media needs can be … intimidating. I’m sure your church’s needs can be as well.
It quickly became apparent to me that I would not be able to personally produce all of the media that our church required, at least not if I was going to continue paying attention to the remainder of my responsibilities. Also, I didn’t have the budget to outsource any significant portion of our media executables.
I was stuck. My guess is if you are responsible for media production at your church you’ve felt that way too.
Over the last few years I’ve intentionally built a volunteer media team that executes the majority of our media deliverables. The shift from staff production to volunteer production is possible, and I would argue it’s more effective than keeping all production within staff responsibilities, especially within the context of small or mid-sized ministries.
Over time, as your volunteer team becomes more effective, it may even be possible to bring them in as contract employees, interns, or even part-time employees. Once you already have the fruit, the investment is a much easier sell.
My top 5 learnings as I’ve grown the team to date:
- Invest heavily in your team members. For media, focus on depth, not breadth, when building your team. Media production is a highly technical and detailed process. One really skilled person is of more value than 5 people who can hack a PSD. Take the time to train the people you bring in really, really well. Excellence attracts excellence, so the better your team members get, the better talent you will end up attracting as your team grows.
- Develop Scalable Systems. If a team member is constantly having to ask you what their next piece is, you’re not setting them up very well. Expectations should be clear, and your systems should be able to help you manage ten people just as well as you can manage one. We use a media production master document that has been really helpful as we’ve grown our media team. Also, things as simple as having a standard file structure and a systematized archiving procedure can be really helpful.
- Use the right tools. Properly equipping your crew is one of the wisest things you can do when building a volunteer media team. We use Adobe Creative Cloud to outfit our heaviest producers with the newest Adobe programs. Also, if you’re not using Dropbox, you should be. There is a cost associated with using these things, but it is more than worth the return.
- Make sure your communication lines are clear. This goes between both you and your team, as well as between you and your lead pastor, and any other department you develop media for. Ask a lot of questions, listen well, and teach people how to give and receive criticism well.
- Give away ownership. This is where things really get fun. Once your team members start developing their eye, give them freedom of choice regarding design. A couple of my designers now develop key art for message series and events, and it’s consistently excellent. Others will plan and execute entire video shoots. Teach your team how certain designs, layouts, and styles communicate with people, not just how to make things look good. Give them freedom. You might be surprised. One of our volunteers served as the Art Director for our entire capital campaign and accompanying series last year. He did a fantastic job!
Some of our favorite tools & resources:
- Abobe Creative Cloud Subscription Plan
- Dropbox → Seriously, this one is essential.
- Media Production Master template → Simply duplicate the document, then duplicate the template sheet. Rename it for your series and put in the launch date. The rest of the timing fields will then backdate to the timeline of our choice. Fill out the responsibility fields then share it with your team! You may need to change the specs, pieces, and templates. Just wanted to show you how we use it.
- CMG Monthly Mega Pack → Fresh Backgrounds delivered to your inbox every month.
- The Envato Network → Tons of fantastic stock resources for very reasonable prices. Also, tons of tutorials for your team!
- What The Font → Not sure what font that is? Find out here!
- Video CoPilot – If you use (or are just starting to use) Adobe After Effects, you need to check out the resources on this site.
Examples of the Connexus Church Media Team’s Work: