Updated: Aug 22
Even if you’re not the biggest “Hamilfan” or can’t rap the entire first act from memory to impress your friends, there is an enormous amount that the American Church can learn from the success of the musical and apply to our digital content and online services.
While inspiration from Hollywood cinema and television studios has long been evident in our church media, our “world turned upside down” in the Spring of 2020. The rules we followed regarding our digital content don’t necessarily work anymore. What our people are prioritizing has changed. The way they consume content has changed.
Here’s an example:
In 2019, all of the experts would tell you that 1/3 of your livestream audience would be new people checking out your church services, 1/3 would be your regular attendees who can’t make it to the brick and mortar worship service, and 1/3 would be people who, for the most part, consider the online service as their "campus" of choice. While this rule helped drive your strategy across media, it is no longer the case.
We must rethink the intentions and strategies across all of our media and try to learn how to continue to engage our people.
What are you teaching us, sir?
1. Clarity is Greater than Flair
Hamilton keeps clarity its main goal throughout its runtime. You can see how every dollar spent on lighting, microphones, and stage design is used to maximize the audience’s ability to focus on what’s most important and clearly understand what is being communicated.
The Church needs to do the same.
You don’t see overly complex lighting rigs or stage design. No on screen text or motion graphics. “Whoah whoah whoah!” you may be saying. “When did motion graphics and titles become a bad thing?” They became a problem as soon as they distracted from what is being communicated. Flair can’t exist for flair’s own sake.
Our company exists to help churches create and utilize great digital media. We truly love graphics, websites, livestreams, etc. But we love the message even more. We love it enough to fight for clarity.
2. People Should be our Focus
As a church, as a theatre troupe, as a producer of content in any capacity, people should be the focus. Even Scripture itself, while telling the story from the creation of the heavens, gas giants, beautiful creatures and world wonders, all the way to telling of worldwide calamity and supernatural events, even with all of that the focus is on people.
How are you utilizing your media to highlight your people?
Whenever you are faced with a decision regarding graphics, website, livestream, social media content, or any other church related media outlet, choose your people.
Create a dope motion graphic welcome video or shoot a welcome video featuring a church member? Choose the church member on screen.
Use a stock photo on our church’s landing page (and get it done now) or setup a photoshoot with a few families in your church (will take much more time)? Take the extra time and get photos of your people.
What you start to notice when you view Hamilton alongside the classic blockbuster film is how many people are allowed in the figurative (and literal) spotlight. It’s very odd to watch incredible film’s like Castaway featuring Tom Hanks, which spends hours focused on a single man, but during the credits it lists the 3,000 men and women who made the production possible. As a church leader, your job is to do the opposite of this. Highlight the people and God's redemptive story in their lives.
3. A Great Story Cannot be Topped
As Aaron Burrs sings, “But when you're gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?”
The Church does. It is us who have been tasked with telling the greatest story ever told. We are the ones who keep the flame, who tell the story, who remember and remind the world what has been done for them through the life and death of Jesus Christ.
Every piece of your media needs to add to this story. If it doesn’t, throw it out.
Media in the 21st century has given us more ability to share His story than any period of time before us.
Tell how He has changed everything for you and your people.
Tell how His forgiveness is rebuilding marriages.
Tell how His joy is infectious during a pandemic.
Tell how His hope is unchanging on the precipice of a hostile election season.
Tell them about Jesus.
Don’t know what to create? Have no motivation to keep going?
Shout His praise through your worship services. Repeat His name on your social media. Showcase His redemption through your videos. Tell his story over and over and over!
Listen, at the end of the day Hamilton is an entertaining musical about a man who helped form our nation. It’s songs are catchy and using it in the title of this article helped convince you to read it and be encouraged. There’s nothing that it is teaching us that Scripture and the Spirit of God aren’t also teaching. But let’s not ignore the message. We have a savior worth praising and talents within our teams that can help take that praise to the literal nations. We have a shot to raise our voices higher than everything else going on and make Him known.
Say it with us, “I’m not throwing away my… shot!”