Towards the end of May 2017, a project to make Bible teaching videos appeared on Now, one year on, we take a look back at what has happened in the last year and our hopes and dreams for the next year to come.

The last 12 months

The first series: the Sermon on the Mount

The initial KickStarter campaign ran for one month and raised sufficient funding for us to both purchase the basic equipment that we needed to film the videos as well as provide funding for me (Alan) to script, plan, film and edit the videos. Filming for the first series began at the end of July 2017 and continued through until the end of August, after which the videos were edited and the leader guides written.

The first video was release on the 1st September 2017, and each subsequent video in the series was release in the weeks that followed. The complete Sermon on the Mount series is now available as one complete download bundle.

Christmas Special

Thanks to a generous gift from one of our supporters, we were able to begin filming a Christmas special in December and release it just about in time for the last weekend before youth groups and small groups had their Christmas break. This gift also helped us begin writing and preparing for…

The second series: When God seems silent, from the book of Habakkuk

We began pre-production for the Habakkuk series way back in January. However, despite being a shorter three-part set of videos, The Habakkuk series has been a hard series to make, taking twice as long to produce as we had initially planned. We’ve had to battle through numerous scheduling conflicts, camera and equipment problems, editing headaches (caused by the camera problems), mysterious software rendering glitches and adverse weather (we filmed in a 30°C temperature range, from -5°C on one day and 25°C on another)!

Still, through the LORD’s goodness and the kindness and generosity of people who were able to give a few timely one-off donations, we have finally arrived at the point where the videos are finished and now available to use.

The next 12 months

Colossians: Rooted and built up

The next series of Video Bible Talks is already in pre-production, which means I am writing the scripts and beginning to roughly storyboard the intro, outro and illustration segments of each video.

I must admit that I am a bit nervous about this series. It will be an eight-video series, which is quite a massive undertaking. Plus, there is still the question of whether or not we will be able to raise the funding for this series to happen or not. More on this in a minute.

An additional component to Video Bible Talks videos

Each Video Bible Talk video comes with a Leader Guide. This is a suggested session outline with discussion and application questions that flow into and flow out of the Bible passage and the teaching on each video.

In addition to the usual Leader Guide, each Video Bible Talks video from the Colossians series onward will also include a Parent Update video. These will be 1-2 minute summary videos of the Bible teaching in each session that youth group leaders can email and share with parents and guardians.

The Bible is really clear that the primary pastors of children (including teenagers) are parents (Deuteronomy 6:1-9ff, Psalm 78:1-8, Ephesians 6:4) and so we want to help youth group leaders to support parents by keeping them connected and involved in the teaching ministry that their young people are a part of.

One of the most exciting ideas that we would love to roll out over the coming months is to start producing Video Bible Devotions. These are intended to be video-based alternatives to purely paper-based Bible study notes that teenagers and younger people might do as part of their regular quiet times or devotional times.

The format would be shorter videos between 3-5 minutes in length that give a verse or passage from the Bible, a teaching point or summary of the big idea in the text, and a starting point for any application from the text into our day-to-day lives.

Although we are still looking into this idea to see whether it would be a useful and achievable venture, we are nonetheless excited about what impact such a resource could have on young people in the UK and around the world, especially if we could combine it with paper-based notes (that provide questions and prompt people to allow time for reflection) or provide them via an app (or other similar mobile-platform) further down the line.

Our biggest obstacle

Free to use… but not free to make

We (the Video Bible Talks trustees) love making these videos available for free (here’s why, if you didn’t know already). We would love to not only keep making more Video Bible Talks videos but also to see other video Bible ministries like Video Bible Devotions get off the ground.

However, although our videos are free for people to use, they are not free to make… in fact, far from it.

As a rough guide, each series costs £2000 for the first episode, and £500 for each episode after that. This is working on a per-production schedule, where we make one series at a time from start to finish and then make the next, and so on.

Now, while this sounds like a lot of money, it actually isn’t (not for video, anyway). For instance, when we were planning the first series of Video Bible Talks, we were quoted anything from £2,000 to £10,000 per video.

We have been greatly blessed by people supporting our initial KickStarter campaign one year ago and by people giving occasional one-off donations. We thank God so much for these gifts and would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to you, if you are one of these people.

Yet there have been a number of months where we simply did not have enough funding to make ends meet. Thankfully, in between filming and producing these videos over this last year, the LORD has graciously provided some paid work for me so that we could pay the bills. We also have a small core of regular supporters who make a big difference to our ministry by giving sacrificially each month towards this work.

However, the biggest obstacle to furthering this work of Video Bible teaching is the struggle to balance ongoing regular costs and expenses with the unpredictable nature of how people give towards this work.

We are not so much looking for a small number of people to give large amounts. Rather, we are looking for a large number of people to give a small amount regularly, such as £5 or £10 each month.

Therefore, we are setting a goal to grow the regular giving that we receive over the next few months from £300 each month that we currently receive to £1500 each month (or more – any surplus being used to shorten production times and extend the possibilities of this ministry, if the LORD allows).

This may seem like quite a colossal task… and in one sense it is, unless you break down the big task into smaller more manageable steps.

We are not so much looking for a small number of people to give large amounts. Rather, we are looking for a large number of people to give a small amount regularly, such as £5 or £10 each month.

So, can you give to this work?

If everyone reading this post was able to give £5 or £10 each month to this work then we would be able to…

  • Switch to a yearly production schedule and work on multiple Video Bible Talks series at a time.
  • Increase the number of series we produce each year from 2 or 3 series to 3 or 4 series, plus 1 or 2 one-off standalone videos.
  • Continue to develop the Video Bible Devotions idea and start producing video-based devotions for people immersed in an audio-visual culture.

So how about it? How would you like to be part of a growing ministry to bring faithful Bible teaching into youth groups and small groups around the world and to put regular time in the Bible back on the radar for people disconnected from God’s Word by the culture around them?

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Published by Alan Witchalls

Alan Witchalls is the Producer and Director of Video Bible Talks. Alan is a trained Christian Minister with over 15 years experience in youth ministry. He lives just outside of London with his wife and two children.