Before founding Pro Church Tools Brady worked in his local church as a media director. He shares a handful of his biggest mistakes and how you can learn from them.
What’s In This Session?
- #1: Stock photos on our website homepage (2:28)
- #2: Mobile app (3:28)
- #3: Green screen for video announcements (4:46)
- #4: Watermelon disaster post on Facebook (6:07)
- #5: No compass; no “why” (7:27)
Show Notes & Resources Mentioned
- Cowboy Studio Green Screen
- Pro Church Tools
- Pro Church Tools on Facebook
- Pro Church Tools on YouTube
- Brady Shearer on Instagram
- Brady Shearer on Twitter
- Alex Mills on Instagram
The Full Transcript
Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus when we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined, as always, by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer. Today, on episode 100 of Pro Church Daily, we’re talking about five mistakes that you, Brady Shearer, made as a church media director.
Brady Shearer: We’ve spent 99 episodes, up until this point Alex, spouting advice, tips, and tactics. Sharing what we think is best. We wanted to take, I wanted to take, this 100th episode and talk about the five biggest mistakes that I made as a media director, before I stared Pro Church Tools, I was working in the local church as the media director. I was young. I was in Bible college, and I was put into this role by a senior leader that believed in me, rightfully or wrongfully so, and I had to learn on the fly. So much of what we talk about, especially the opinions that I have when it comes to, hey, just don’t do this, is something that I learned on the job, and then was later backed up by so many other experiences from other churches, and empirical data proving that there are better ways of doing things.
The thesis of this entire episode of Pro Church Daily is that when I started in this, and when so many of us started in this, we had no idea what we’re doing, and so we just do what other people are doing. We just do what other industries are doing. We just do what is available because we don’t know any better. That’s how we do this show every single day, to give you that partner along the journey, every single day. The partner that I didn’t have, so you can avoid the mistakes that I made, and I will tell you about some of those mistakes now.
Alex Mills: Right, and in this show we speak from, you eluded to it. A lot of the things we talk about, they’re tips, they’re tricks. This is how you should do this. This is how you should do this. It’s not just based off our personal opinions, or your personal opinions. A lot of this comes from the mistakes we’ve made, and realized first how not to do something, and learned along the way how to do something. This is true from your perspective and from our perspective about church, and digital communications, and this wild communication shift that we’re going through. It’s also true just in life. We learn as we make mistakes, and we realize, yeah, this is not how I’m supposed to talk to you. This is not how I’m supposed to do this. We become better people through that process. On the other side, we’re able to turnaround and tell other people, hey, I made this mistake, so you don’t have to. This is how you should go about it.
Brady Shearer: Let’s talk about the dumb things that I did.
Alex Mills: Here we go.
Brady Shearer: Number one, we had a giant stock photo at the top of our website homepage. Not only was this giant stock photo on the top, it was the whole homepage. You couldn’t even scroll on this website.
Alex Mills: It’s the landing page of a stock photo.
Brady Shearer: It was a white background, and then there was a family of three, husband, wife, and son. That was the whole thing.
Alex Mills: This is the Cardinal sin.
Brady Shearer: Yeah. Exactly. And, why is it the Cardinal sin? Those people didn’t attend our church.
Alex Mills: Right.
Brady Shearer: People came up to us and it was like, yo, who are those people? We were a church of 150, people knew they didn’t come. I couldn’t go, they’re in our second service. It’s like, those people don’t attend our church, and we had plenty of photography talent. We could have just taken photos, but we got lazy, and we just stuck up that stock photo. So when I tell you to not use stock photos of people’s faces, because now we have the tech to do it on our phone, literally in a second, I’ve made that mistake. I’ve done that dumb stuff before.
Alex Mills: I love that you did this.
Brady Shearer: It gets better. Number two, my church had a mobile app.
Alex Mills: Of course they did.
Brady Shearer: From Subsplash.
Alex Mills: Nice.
Brady Shearer: And, we talk a lot about the cost of mobile apps, the viable alternatives. A big part of that, and my knowledge of that, is because my church of 150, had a mobile app. Alex, believe me when I say, I thought it was the coolest thing ever.
Alex Mills: I’m sure you did.
Brady Shearer: I uploaded the graphics that I was making into that, and I was like, I built an app. Not many people used it, but I had built it.
Alex Mills: Oh, that’s incredible.
Brady Shearer: Now, maybe if our website wasn’t a stock photo of a family, and we had used it properly, we wouldn’t need the app. I think that, that pastor, who originally made the decision, a good friend of ours, their church no longer has an app because we learned from our mistakes. But, when you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re like, an app? Yes, that’s the coolest thing ever because you don’t think about why. You just go for it.
Alex Mills: I love how this is all coming together.
Brady Shearer: Oh, it’s coming together all right.
Alex Mills: Even just these first two. Based off these mistakes you’ve made, you can see why we’re headed in the trajectory that we are as a company, and what we’re encouraging your churches to do with your website, and with your app that you maybe have, but shouldn’t have anymore. You can see, based off of these mistakes, what you’ve learned, and now why we’re saying the things that we are.
Brady Shearer: Mistake number three, we used green screens for our video.
Alex Mills: Of course you did.
Brady Shearer: Of course we did. Bought a green screen a Cowboy’s Studio One on Amazon, set it up with those lights that you get from Home Depot, and we filmed our video announcements on green screen. And guess what? They looked pretty good. They were pretty great video announcements, but it would have been so much easier if I had just setup a camera in our office, in our lobby, in our auditorium. If I had known that you have less setup time, it’ll look actually like your church, and our church didn’t even have good lighting, so we would have had to have actually carried the lights with us, but we dedicated our entire mid-week space to a green screen, basically. Every time we had mid-week, we had to cover up the whole thing, so that people were worshiping and not looking at a green screen because it was an eyesore.
Alex Mills: Please tell me you were putting some sort fantastical background before, like you put yourself in space, or like what did you do with the background? Was it just black, or what did you do?
Brady Shearer: No, it was, I mean, it was this motion background that was blue and had a vignette, and it had these nice motions that didn’t take away.
Alex Mills: So, it wasn’t bad?
Brady Shearer: No, it was a pretty dope motion background if you’re going to go with one.
Alex Mills: Nice.
Brady Shearer: But still, green screen is just so much more difficult, more expensive, way more post production.
Alex Mills: Yeah, just use the environment.
Brady Shearer: I’m doing it on this MacBook, doing Chroma Key, and it’s like breaking it. There was a better way, young Brady. Number four, this one is not something we talk about a lot. It’s not like a big macro-idea, but I was put in charge of the church’s social media, of course. I had been reading all these books about, you want to generate engagement. I had no experience with this, and so I was like, okay, I don’t know what to do. I know, I’ll post a funny YouTube video.
Alex Mills: Of course.
Brady Shearer: I don’t even remember exactly what it was, but I do remember it had to do with some type of watermelon accident.
Alex Mills: Oh, it was probably the video of the woman, she was like in some sort of an amazing race competition, and she launched a watermelon from, what do you call those things?
Brady Shearer: Like a giant slingshot?
Alex Mills: Yes, and it came back and hit her in face, and almost decapitated her.
Brady Shearer: Let’s go with that one. So, I post this YouTube, probably just going, check out this video. My pastors come to me and they go, what are you doing? This probably one time where I was actually trying to do what was right. I was trying to not just talk about ourselves, but I was trying to generate engagement, and it was just a little too out of our culture, a little bit too off the wall. We didn’t build up to that. We were just like, funny YouTube fail videos. It wasn’t native to Facebook because video on Facebook wasn’t a thing back then, and so I learned then, okay, if we’re going post stuff on Facebook for gaining engagement, we’ve got to have, at least be, mildly topical.
Alex Mills: A little more mindful.
Brady Shearer: And maybe a little less violence.
Alex Mills: Yes.
Brady Shearer: Finally, mistake number five. Every single mistake that I’ve talked about so far can be summed up by this. I had no compass for what I was doing. I didn’t understand the why behind digital, behind social. We talk on Pro Church Daily about your church’s mission statement. How it’s basically, however it’s summed up, at it’s core, it’s love God, love people, make disciples. What we’re doing with digital and social, and all of our platforms in new media is we’re trying to accomplish that mission statement using the new mediums that we have. Timeless message, in timely mediums. I just didn’t really grasp the nuances of digital at the time. Why would I? I was new to the job, but most importantly, I didn’t have any compass for, where am I headed with this? This is what most of us do. This is why our churches are always pointing back to Sunday because at least we know Sunday, at least that makes sense because we’ve done it that way always.
At least we can point back to that, whereas, digital, how do we natively, using these platforms, accomplish our mission statement using only this? That’s why we always ask the question, what would your church post online if your Sunday service didn’t exist? If you were still trying to help you people and your community love God, love others, and make disciples, how would you do that without a Sunday? That’s a great starting point. If I had just been able to ask myself that question when I was 18, 19, 20, it would have led to a much smarter strategy. I still might not have understood the nuances. I still might have used the green screen, went with the app, used the stock photo. You’ll learn those things over time, but if at least I had that compass, that foundation, it would have led to a more fruitful ministry in my time there, I think.
Alex Mills: That’s great, man. That’s great.
Brady Shearer: Well, it wasn’t great.
Alex Mills: Well, It’s great now.
Brady Shearer: The advice on the other side is great.
Alex Mills: Nice. So, it was worth it.
Brady Shearer: Yes. And, we are still very good friends with all of those people at that church.
Alex Mills: There you go. You didn’t burn any bridges.
Brady Shearer: No, no. No, we’re still good friends.
Alex Mills: Good. Okay. Hopefully, some of those mistakes were helpful. Hopefully, you can learn from some of it. Let me know what mistakes you’ve made in the comments. Send us an email. Hit us up on social.
Brady Shearer: Yeah, send us some watermelon videos.
Alex Mills: Absolutely. That will do it for this episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.