When a church consultant recommended to Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Mo., that its senior minister needed an additional venue—other than the pulpit—to connect to its members, the church's ministry assistant for publications pushed Pastor Jason Edwards to consider a video blog.
"We were thinking that would require me to find a professional studio to go to each week to tape it," said Edwards, who was reluctant to add another item to his already full schedule.
One day, however, "I closed my office door, turned on my iPhone camera, shared some comments, loaded it to my YouTube channel, and told the media minister, 'Here you go.'"
Since then, Edwards' weekly v-blog (or vlog) has become a standard feature of Second Baptist's interaction with its community.
"I actually was shocked by how well it's been received," said Edwards, an Atlanta, Texas, native who graduated from Baylor University's Truett Seminary in Waco. "I didn't have any sense that it would be what it has become for us."
Edwards—who continues to use his iPhone to record his comments—tries to keep his vlog to two or three minutes and tapes them in a variety of settings. A visit to his East Texas hometown prompted a reflection (taped in his car on the drive in) on the spiritual impact his youth choir had. A discussion of the biblical concept of "Sabbath" was taped at an airport's Gate 7—a reference to God's post-creation rest on the seventh day.
Staff uses Adobe Premiere to place Edwards' name and sometimes Scripture references on the video screen. Then the vlog is loaded to the church's YouTube channel and sends out an email alert to the congregation.
"Church members say they know they're looking at a video, but they add that it's a genuine connection," Edwards notes. "For a couple of minutes, the pastor is looking them in the eye and sharing something with them. They feel connected in a personal way because of that."