In Layman's Terms: Pastors put technology to work during ice storm

Todd Seifert


The ice storm that hit the two states of the Great Plains Conference probably couldn't have come at a more inconvenient time — OK, any time other than Christmas Eve, maybe — to disrupt the life of the church.

The One Event youth rally in Salina, Kansas, may have been the most impacted, with more than 200 of the 1,100 or so registrants showing up to have a load of fun at concerts, worship settings, improve comedy and games. The energy in the Bicentennial Center there was tremendous. We have some great future leaders of our conference who showed up to have fun and to be fed spiritually. 

With the weather causing many to cancel their travel plans, Shane Hinderliter, our conference coordinator for youth ministries, arranged for parts of The One Event to be livestreamed so churches could host their own activities and lock-ins and join in at least some of the fun. It was a great decision and a smart use of technology.

There were many good examples of use of technology. As churches made decisions that erred on the side of caution, more than a few pastors across Kansas and Nebraska set up their iPhones or tablets and recorded themselves sharing a devotion or full-blown sermon on Sunday morning. This turned out to be a lot of fun for me. I attended worship at my home church — Havelock United Methodist Church in Lincoln — and then watched some of the Facebook Live recordings. As a result, I had the opportunity to hear uplifting messages from some pastors I had never heard from before and some from whom I had not heard a sermon in a long time.

Coincidentally, I had been planning to shoot a video sharing how to shoot video on a smartphone. Just last week, a friend and colleague of mine, the Rev. Will Rice of the Rio Texas Conference, shot a video quite similar to the one I was planning.

All this is a lead-in to a short video I produced on my iMac. It's not the best quality. In fact, I point out issues with lighting and audio that would have made it better. The sound and visuals get slightly out of sync toward the end (a hazard of non-video camera technology), and it's just a bit out of the suggested 5-minute cap that I talk about. But it does show you what you can do with a tool you may already have in your home or office. The video provides some tips for shooting video and ideas for how to reach out to your communities using video when the weather is picture perfect and not just during an ice storm. For example, short midweek devotions, promos for the upcoming Sunday sermon or major announcements that you want the congregation to hear.

My video is below and  is followed by the video from Rev. Rice that gives you fairly detailed "how-to" info about shooting and editing a video using just your iPhone. I hope you find both useful!

blog from Great Plains UMC on Vimeo.


Todd Seifert is communications director for the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. He can be reached via phone at 402-464-5994, ext. 113, or via email at Opinions expressed are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Great Plains Annual Conference or the United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter, @ToddSeifert.