Is Filming Your Hunts Actually Worth It For Your Church And Ministry?
Outdoor ministry and filming seem like they’d go hand in hand at first glance. However, after 15 years of speaking and being a consultant to churches and denominations wanting to launch outdoor ministry efforts, I can tell you that video is more than likely NOT your answer in terms of reaching hunters within your immediate region. It may work, but you need to think long and hard before spending outdoor ministry money to purchase a professional camera, editing software, tree stand camera arms, tripods, professional audio capabilities, lights and a set for post-production filming, access to royalty-free music and the money to pay to get it, and many other elements like this that you must have to pull this thing off.
The outdoor industry is, beyond question, a video-driven industry. The reason for that is simple: we want to watch hunts, not just read about them.
As I travel throughout the country speaking at men’s events and wild game dinners, every single time I’ll encounter an energized Christian hunter that is eager to get into video production with his guys at church. People always see the end product. They see our hunts, or our DVDs, or our turkey series with Sportsman Channel, and they think, “Man, if my guys had a camera, we could share the gospel like that, too.” Let me remind you, however, that the end product is absolutely no different than the “tip of the iceberg” concept in that the tip is what’s emerging out of the water and 90% of the mass is beneath the surface. In this case, that critical mass is a long, long, very long journey filled with nothing but hard work, and more than anything, a calling to be in media production.
Before you go out and spend a minimum of $8,000 to get a bare bones production start worth having, please hear us out in terms of what God may actually be doing in the life of your ministry instead of what you’d like Him to do.
Consider these issues before you press the little red button:
Are You Measuring Your Outdoor Ministry By Someone Else’s Standard?
You see video production and you think of all the possibilities. It’s true. There are possibilities. However cool it may look, is media production your true harvest field? Notice I said your field. Oswald Chambers once said, “You cannot serve God where you’re not at.” It’s so very true. Plow the fields God gives you, and don’t worry about land you do own or have access to just yet. Just because you see someone else doing something cool, don’t let their standard of success define your standard of success.
Jeremy Harrill is the greatest outdoor ministry leader I’ve ever met, and believe me, I've met hundreds as I've traveled the nation speaking at wild game dinners and conferences. He the founder of a local-church based outdoor ministry called Heart of a Sportsman located in North Carolina.
He said this, “Everywhere I go I see guys who are so concerned with numbers - always looking for people they haven’t reached yet, while actually neglecting those hunters that they have actually reached.”
Jeremy is dead on accurate. It’s bizarre that we’ll put our eyes on the horizon and yet overlook the 20 hunters coming to our church right now.
Start with the hunters you have now. Build a ministry on that piece of ground before you start surveying property you don’t even own yet. If you and your men are being faithful to tend the fields you have now and you’re doing it well, then yes, certainly look to new horizons. If not, dare not neglect what God has given you to go chase something He hasn’t blessed.
Do You Have A Production Distribution Vehicle?
Well over a decade ago, I was that guy I’m describing. I was the guy who just wanted to video things because I saw the evangelism possibilities and that’s all I saw. I had no clue what video production was all about, and friend let me tell you, the years that followed were a brutal education. BRUTAL. The amount of time and money lost to “we need to video that” still makes me want to vomit to this very day.
Capturing video is just a small part of the process. You have to be able to edit the video you capture. Do you have the money to pay for quality production? If you don’t, your media won’t even get a viewing.
Once you edit it, the big issue is how are you going to distribute it? Web, television, social media? Video, in fact, even quality video, means nothing if you don’t have a vehicle to drive you to the viewer. Those “vehicles” are networks like Sportsman Channel, NBC Sports, Outdoor Channel, etc. If you don’t have deep pockets or an alternative idea, you’re already in trouble and you haven’t started yet!
You might think, “Well, we will just post our hunts on Facebook or YouTube.” Okay, fine. That’s a good plan. Do you have a marketing plan and the money necessary to build up your viewership and followers so that your videos will actually be seen? Are you prepared to hunt the next (2) seasons with 60 hunts on the books and only 3 bucks to show for it while also capturing b roll, interviews, build a stock media library full of still shots and live video, finding an editor who’s willing to work for free, purchasing access to music feeds for background tracks, and build a killer graphics package in order to actually make some guy trolling Facebook actually stop and watch that 5 minute video?
See, as a start up, you don’t have multiple camera crews, so it’s just your (1) camera for all (17) guys in your ministry group who hunt; and, believe me, once you get that camera, all 17 are going to want to be on filmed hunts! BELIEVE ME. If you want to get more than (3) kills over the next (2) years, then you need to travel a lot, have multiple cameras running, multiple hunters with cameramen to document them, and a wife willing to be a single mom for a while.
All of that translates into this: you better think before buying that first camera.
If You’re Called To Media Production . . .
Pick a market. That is, pick a field to plow and just concentrate there for a while. If I were starting out totally from scratch today, knowing what I know now, I’d produce videos for the web, and I’d go after hunters in my regional footprint. I’d look about 30 miles beyond my church, and target getting my videos in front of those men via the internet. Believe me, with the power of Facebook’s ad machine, you can actually get your videos in front of those people in your zip code who love hunting. That translates into reaching lost men who actually might come to your outdoor ministry events.
Jesus said, “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28)
That tells me that finishing is more important than starting. Could it be that all that money, and all that energy, and all that time, and all that creativity, might be better spent plowing a field where you’re already seeing success?