Church Video Storytelling – 3. Plot

The Church Video Series – Lesson 30

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As we continue in our section on storytelling we arrive at the third component of every great story, and that is plot.

Obviously every story needs a plot of some kind, however basic. But what makes a great plot? What elements comprise a plot that will draw the audience in?

I believe there are two elements of every plot/script/timeline/sequence that will set your video up for success.


Element #1 – A Personal Story

Facts are facts.

They’re sterile and stagnant. They don’t carry emotion or personality. And while they may be useful for proving something intellectually, rarely do they persuade someone to action.

You may have heard the statement, “You’ll never argue someone into the Kingdom of God.” This statement basically means that, when you’re sharing the Gospel with someone, the wrong way to do it is to present them with empirical evidence to disprove their objections to faith.

And that’s because for most people, emotion is what drives action. And that’s why every video you make should have a personal story as part of its plot.

Share an anecdote, a story from your life, a success, or a failure, because every time you do that, you transform the person on screen from a two-dimensional talking head into a 3-D person with a past and a future into a person with vulnerabilities and hopes.

And when you do that, they become a person that your audience can connect with. This is the same as when a pastor begins his message with a funny story or personal experience. You need to be doing that in your videos.

Element #2 – Conflict

Every great story needs conflict — something the character overcame.

This is why the Bible talks on multiple occasions about the power of testimony,  about sharing our overcomer stories — because each of our  stories has some sort of conflict. And that’s why I love making baptism videos so much. The conflict and story is already there. All we have to do is make it come alive on screen. Even the simplest video can have conflict.

Let’s take a look at both of these elements — story and conflict — at work in a very simple video.

This  video was written by Marshall Davis Jones and filmed by Stillmotion. It’s called Spelling Father.

You’ll notice that the cinematography itself is very simple. There is only one location and only a couple of different angles shot throughout the entire video.

The focus of this video is the content, the plot.

Marshall Davis Jones starts by sharing a personal story, a dream that he had. And this is what draws you into the video. You care about him, you’re interested in him, and once he has your attention, he starts in on the conflict.

His conflict is over the proper spelling of the word ‘Father.’

And once his conflict is overcome, he hits us with his point, his purpose, the thesis of his video.

And that’s what our final lesson in this section of The Church Video Series is focused on: the thesis. What is the purpose of your video? And why should people care?

I’ll see you in the next lesson.

Click here to go to the next lesson in The Church Video Series. Or you could click here too.


  • bradyshearer


  • Lankesh11

    Conflict, yes. But not too much conflict. We don’t want an action-thriller on a Sunday morning. 🙂 I like the idea of letting people share their own conflict because they will usually stop short of sharing too much.

    • bradyshearer

      Why not too much conflict? I don’t like this idea that church has to be cotton candy fluffy all the time.

      Life isn’t easy. Life is full of tension and disappointment, as well as hope and redemption. Church has done a good job of overemphasizing the positive side of life and shying away from the negative. And that’s not helpful for people.

      A couple of months ago our church had a guest speaker in. She was living with terminal cancer and everything that could have gone wrong so far had. When she finished speaking there was no resolution, she wasn’t healed, and there was palpable tension in the room.

      But at that point we all began worshipping God and that worship time was more memorable than any other I can recently remember.

      So yes, I think conflict should be present and I don’t think it always needs to be resolved with a nice bow and cherry on top. If stuff is sucky, that’s okay, let’s acknowledge it and point our eyes to our God who is Sovereign over it regardless.

      Sorry for the rant haha 🙂 You just hit a pain point in me. Haha.

      • Lankesh11

        Yikes. Great story, man. I guess I was thinking about creating artificial conflict just for the sake of stimulation, excitement, trying to get adrenalin, rather than the spirit of compassion flowing.

        But of course real tragedy and destruction of lives occur and should be acknowledged in the church. As well, I think Media is a great way for us to share those stories.