What's in this session?

  • #1: Short (2:12)
  • #2: Abstract (3:16)
  • #3: Curiosity (4:20)
  • #4: Emotional (5:16)
  • #5: Incomplete (6:30)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Well, hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily, the show where in 10 minutes or less, you’re going to get a daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we try and navigate the biggest communication shift that 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, we’re talking about five tips for crafting the perfect sermon bumper script.

Brady Shearer: Sermon bumpers, Alex, are that 30 to 60 second video that you play perhaps to transition in service from the announcements to the message. That’s what we do at my church. Really a great way to queue up the message as the pastor prepares, walks it onstage, has their bible, just getting everything ready to go.

What’s great is that it’s especially helpful at setting the atmosphere and doing a little bit of a teaser when it comes to what the congregation should expect with the upcoming message. Now, with that being said, scripting a sermon bumper is not something that most find easy. What I see with a lot of sermon bumpers is they become this really wordy, really descriptive, overly verbose, not teaser of the trailer, but essentially a full explanation of the message.

Alex Mills: Yes, and we see that in movie trailers, too.

Brady Shearer: We do.

Alex Mills: There’s nothing worse than when a movie trailer comes out. You’ve been waiting for this film. The Avengers is coming out, and you watch the trailer. It’s four and a half minutes long, and it’s like, “Well, I don’t have to go see the movie now. You just told me the whole script. I’m good.”

Brady Shearer: Exactly.

Alex Mills: That’s really disappointing. I hate when that happens.

Brady Shearer: That’s why movements like Star Wars Pure and Marvel Pure came out because you can’t even trust trailers anymore.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: It’s going to give away everything.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Similarly, you don’t want to give away everything with your sermon bumper within the script, so we wanted to offer five tips for crafting the perfect sermon bumper script. I’ve been creating sermon bumpers for now more than half a decade for churches all around the world. It was one of the first products that we offered for churches. I think if you still go to sermon bumper, with an S?

Alex Mills: I don’t know.

Brady Shearer: SermonBumpers.com.

Alex Mills: Dot com.

Brady Shearer: Dot com. SermonBumper.com, SermonBumpers.com. Someone try that. We’ll see what happens.

Alex Mills: Yes, and we’ll make one for you.

Brady Shearer: Yes, and if you land on there, buy one and we’ll make one for you. We’ve done this so much. Here are the five biggest tips that I’ve learned from creating all these different scripts.

First, you want to keep it short. Punchy, short sentences, short words. I mentioned being overly verbose a moment ago. That is one of the cardinal sins that I see with sermon bumper scripts. You don’t want to have lines and lines of text. You don’t want to become overly verbose where you’re talking and talking and the person who’s sitting in the pew is trying to race through and read on the screen because they know that the slide is going to change and they’re not going to get everything. Often I’ll use two, three, four, five word sentences. I’ll use single words with periods after each.

What you’re trying to do with a sermon bumper is you’re trying to create an emotion and an atmosphere with the video. This is why the music is so important, and this is why when it comes to sermon bumpers, you don’t even necessarily need to shoot a ton of custom stuff. It’s not really about the visuals necessarily. What it’s about is an atmosphere and creating an emotion. That’s very easy to create with short words and the music behind it and really any type of good visual. That’s the first tip, keep it short.

Tip number two, keep it abstract. What you don’t want to do is make very explicit word for word statements. You want to create this emotion. The type of words that are best at creating emotion are abstract. You’re trying to not explicitly state what’s going to happen. You’re not doing a hermeneutical exposition of a scripture here, right? You’re not getting into the Greek and the Latin and the Hebrew and the Aramaic.

What you’re doing is you’re creating atmosphere, you’re creating emotion. The more abstract language that you can use, think poetry, think the psalms, think the proverbs, okay? You’re not getting into, “He begat, he begat, he begat.” You’re just doing basically a little psalm, “Even though I walk through the valley.” Whoa, there’s some emotional and some rich imagery right there. “I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” That would make exceptional sermon bumper scripts.

Alex Mills: There you go. Well, I think you’re trying to create intrigue with these sermon bumpers. You’re setting up your pastor for success to get up onstage and fill in those blanks, and that leads us right into your next tip, which is curiosity.

Brady Shearer: Curiosity. You are not giving away the entire movie. You’re not giving away the spoilers of Avengers: Infinity War.

Alex Mills: Don’t do it.

Brady Shearer: We won’t do that here, either. I’m tempted to tell you that I will not give away any spoilers to Infinity War, though if you’re watching this and you haven’t seen Infinity War, that’s on you. That isn’t on me. Be better.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: You want to create curiosity with your sermon bumper script so that when your pastor walks onto stage to deliver his or her message to the congregation, they are set up with the right emotion, the atmosphere in the room is correct, but they don’t know what’s about to happen. They have a rough idea. They’ve got the abstract. They’re in the right emotional state that you want them to be in, but you’re not about to walk up there and explain what has already been explained in the sermon bumper.

Alex Mills: Right. Yes, you want to answer the questions that have been aroused by watching the sermon bumper.

Brady Shearer: The word that you used especially there I liked, intrigue, curiosity. Tip number four, emotional. I don’t know how much more we need to talk about this. We’ve been pretty upfront about that thus far in this episode. You want to create an atmosphere. You want to create emotion.

If you’re doing a very epic series called Gravedigger, you might want to have some epic music and some epic words to accompany that so that when your pastor walks onto stage, everyone knows, “Oh yeah, this is going to be a life or death sermon series,” and then he doesn’t go into Song of Solomon.

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: You don’t want that type of contrast. You want everything to flow correctly and along the same vein, all the water moving in the same direction.

Alex Mills: Yes. The emotion that you set up with the sermon bumper, like you said, has to be congruent with the actual sermon itself.

Brady Shearer: Ooh, congruency.

Alex Mills: You like that?

Brady Shearer: Look at you, you little wordsmith.

Alex Mills: Yes. That’s me. I can write a script for you using these words if you’d like, SermonBumpers.com.

Brady Shearer: SermonBumper.com.

Alex Mills: Possibly.

Brady Shearer: The first bible college paper that I ever got back, which I got 108% on.

Alex Mills: Stop it.

Brady Shearer: My doctoral professor said, “Son, you are quite the wordsmith.”

Alex Mills: Oh my gosh.

Brady Shearer: I didn’t know what the word wordsmith meant.

Alex Mills: Dictionary.com.

Brady Shearer: I had to look it up. The irony was so great, I was like, “Well, got to drop this class.” Fifth and final tip for crafting the perfect sermon bumper script is incomplete. This goes along with curiosity. It goes along with all good storytelling. You’re not there to answer the question that you’re proposing. You’re there to propose a question and create that cliffhanger, create that open loop in your church’s mind where they have this curiosity, this intrigue, but you haven’t come in and closed that loop.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: Lost did an amazing job of this.

Alex Mills: Oh, yes.

Brady Shearer: They were the first really mainstream especially drama on TV that did this well, where every single episode would end and they’d open a new loop.

Alex Mills: Yes, they would.

Brady Shearer: You’re like, “Well, I have to watch the next episode.”

Alex Mills: Yes, see the next one.

Brady Shearer: It’s 3:00 AM. It’s binging this eight years after it was released because now I’m 20 but I’ve got to keep watching, and then they don’t answer the question in the next one. They just open another loop and you’re like, “Darn it, what’s in the hatch?”

Alex Mills: Endless loops, yes. Smoke monsters, yes.

Brady Shearer: I got to know. Oh, the smoke monster. A show that’s doing this very, very well on TV right now is The Good Place. The Good Place? Is that what it’s called? The Good Place.

Alex Mills: I don’t know. Haven’t seen it.

Brady Shearer: The Good Place, yes, with Kristen Bell. This is more of a drama but more of a comedy, more of a sitcom that’s traditional. At the end of every episode, they’re opening a new loop. You got to follow up with the next one because they’re leaving each individual plot incomplete. You want to do the same thing with your sermon bumper scripts.

Alex Mills: Awesome. Those are five great tips. Now, if I wanted to see somebody put these five great tips into action and see a script for myself in its completion, where could I find one of those?

Brady Shearer: That was shameless. I’ll take it, though. In the show notes for this episode on both YouTube and in your podcasting app, we have a link to a PDF where you can get pre-written sermon bumper scripts. You don’t have to copy these scripts per se, of course, but they’re examples of a number of different sermon bumpers that I’ve done taking these five individual tips and putting them into action. You don’t need your email or anything. Just click on the link.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: You can see the PDF directly if you’re listening on your phone or if you’re watching on YouTube and you can browse through the sermon bumpers that we’ve done. Of course, SermonBumper/SermonBumpers.com. Someone go there because I want to know what happens when you do go there.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you next time.

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