Ralph Winter is a top Hollywood producer who has worked on such films as The X-Men, Planet of the Apes, and Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country. I heard him speak at a creative conference last week at Daybreak Church in Michigan. At this conference he made a very bold statement, "Short Film is the new teaching pastor." He was suggesting that in our media driven world, a creative short film (much like Rob Bell's Nooma videos) will replace the "in person" teaching pastor as the most effective method for teaching. I really wonder if his statement will hold true and also wonder if it will hold true within the context of student ministry.
There are churches such as Life Church in Edmond, OK that already use a short film product as the primary vehicle for teaching in student ministry. This multi-site church centrally produces a short film product that is used at all 8 locations for their students. I am personally beginning to wrestle with this becoming a possibility for our student minsitry at CCC. Will we be able to continue to hire campus pastors with teaching ability when we go to 10 or 20 or 100 locations? Or should we centralize the teaching compenent and hire leaders for each location?
Here are some of the pros and cons I am wrestling with. I would treasure and thoughts and feedback.
1) We live in a media saturated culture. A short film allows us to use a familiar vehicle to commucate God's truth.
2) Students usually do not remember the theme of a night within a few days or weeks but they can quote movies that they saw years ago.
3) Short film allows you to tell a story with your words and the environment serving as teachers. The visual and the audible learners may connect.
4) Though you have to pour more resources into the short film to make it effective, you potentially take pressure off the campus staff freeing them up to lead more effectively at their location.
On the other hand:
1) If your campus people do have teaching ability, you need to find ways to leverage that gift.
2) Student ministry is TOTALLY relational. If all the teaching is done via short film, the campus must work overtime to make sure the campus is relationally strong.
3) It may be difficult to address specific needs at a location through a short film. It will have to be broad enough to connect to different locations and demographics. This will put more pressure on the small groups to make sure that personal needs are addressed in relation to each topic.
I am not sure where we will land as a ministry, but I am sure that we will experiment with the short film over the next few months. We may come up with some hybrid model where some weeks are short film while others are "in person" teaching.