"She wanted to be just like the bigger kids in Sunday School," said Collier of the toddler's role while working in her church video production room. "So (Mila) pressed the button for the microphone and repeated the words after me."
Collier is one of the on-site production managers at Studio 3:16, an in-house ministry of St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church, a mile south of GVSU's Allendale campus. And she was teaming up with young Mila on a pre-schooler project called "Tiny Ocean Tails."
The modest-sized church formally opened the studio early this fall – complete with facilities for filming (in 4K resolution!) and video editing. There's also camera/sound equipment which can be checked out for various "in the field" video projects.
An initial adult effort has already brought results. Church member Beth Dykhouse videotaped her testimony, which includes the story of losing two of her children, one in a fatal fire. Her husband showed the video to a woman at his workplace. "She started crying and said, 'I guess I need a come to Jesus moment,'" Beth said. Her testimony is posted with other videos on the Studio 3:16 youTube channel,
BUILDING BLOCKS FOR GROWTH
The groundwork for the studio was laid last year, when the church applied for a grant from its Lutheran denomination's district office.
Working with a creative team, church treasurer Jody Owen headed up the grant application process.
"We put together a room-by-room list of what we needed to pull off this ministry," said Owen who was a "project
implementer" during her corporate career. "We may be a smaller church, but we have a skilled group of people," she noted.
"As a group we decided this was the right ministry to do, so we would go forward no matter what."
The application included funds for improved sound and video capability in the church sanctuary. From there came an entire church technical revamping which dedicated two rooms for video recording and production.
Among the improvements: electric power upgrades, Wifi signal boosts and placement of video monitors throughout the building.
The key part of the grant was to equip the Studio 3:16 rooms with cameras, lights, backdrops and microphones, plus computers and software for video and sound editing. The volunteer team priced out all the items and submitted the application.
The good news: a grant of more than $50 thousand covered one-hundred percent of the cost. They adopted a mission statement/slogan for their church's tech-savvy effort: "Connecting people to Jesus in a digital world."
"With the help of God we now have a new vision, evangelically minded with an outward focus," said St. John pastor Rev. Marin Cerchez of the new ministry tools.
A NEW APPROACH
The strategy for Studio 3:16 is intentionally hands-on.
"Some churches ask young people to be on their video tech team, but really they're looking for grunt workers," said Kristen's husband Kevin, also a Studio 3:16 production manager. "But here we ask them what's on their heart. What do they want to create? A movie, interview show or some other ministry project?"
New ministry avenues have brought new opportunities.
The older Sunday School students are producing a puppet show series "Animal Safari." Directed by the students and church education director Tracy Scott, it recently debuted during a worship service. Their initial story is "The Tale of Two Lions" a lesson on pride, including a Bible verse and closing prayer. (see it at online ).
"The Color of Hope," a short film written and directed by Kevin Collier has been entered in the Concordia Film Festival in St. Louis.
An area pastor from Pakistan is scheduled to record sermon videos in his native language.
Pastor Cerchez himself (a former medical doctor with several advanced degrees) will host a video teaching series with titles such as "The Bible Explored" and "Found By Jesus."
Currently, the studio is open three days a week. But an increase in demand could expand its hours.
The kids' interest in the media tools has already led to expansion - an extra computer donation helped begin "Studio 3:16 Jr."
The area community has been discovering this ministry. Collier says website visitors to the church and studio have increased markedly since they went "live" and completed several projects. "We've already seen God beginning to use the things that have been produced here."
(See the "Tiny Ocean Tails" sneak peak video online . For more information on Studio 3:16 visit www.stjohnstudio316.com).
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