Why, How & When You Should Outsource Your Church Media Production | Carl Barnhill

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In this podcast, Carl discusses his journey in media, rebranding Twelve:Thirty Media to Church Visuals. He emphasizes the importance of visual media in churches, offering ready-made, custom, and training services. Carl highlights trends like motion graphics and vertical videos, advising churches to outsource and focus on storytelling while driving traffic to their websites.

Podcast Notes

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Podcast Transcription


Well. Hey, Carl, welcome to the show, man. How are you doing?

I’m doing great, Jason. Man, thanks so much for inviting me. I’m looking forward to this conversation.

Yeah, well, Happy New Year. So we’re launching this thing, it’s January, and I know that there’s been some big changes going on with you and your company. So take a moment for our listeners who maybe don’t know who you are or what you’ve been up to, bring us up to speed.

Yeah, sure. So, previously, for the last ten years, or really 2015, is when I launched full time and we can kind of get into my story a little bit if you want. In 2015, I launched Twelve:Thirty Media as a company. And so eight years we’ve been, I guess, going on nine here, we’ve been Twelve:Thirty Media. But at the beginning of last year, we started on the process of a rebrand because we were encountering some conflicts and just to kind of move us into the future, you know, a lot of people were conflicted with the name. And if I had it to do over again, I would have probably named it something different. But a lot of people were confused, you know, is it a time of day? Is it a Bible verse? What is Twelve:Thirty? People had trouble finding us on the internet, and stuff like that, and also it didn’t really say what we do and focus on what we do. And so that began a process for us.

So what we want to be known for is helping you with your graphics and video, not just to look awesome, not just to save time, but to help you visually communicate the Gospel. So our new name is Church Visuals, so very clear, we do the visuals in your church. So we serve churches, ministries, and artists, but it’s all under the big C church, so Church Visuals. So, the site’s live right now at churchvisuals.com, lots of brand new stuff there. So it has been quite the journey, man.

Yeah. Well, you know, we’ve had a relationship for a long time, and you guys have done some amazing things in the church. But tell me, where’d that passion come from? Tell me a little bit about your story.

Yeah. So I actually started out at a place called Precept Ministries, a lady named Kay Arthur, who’s a Bible study teacher. So I came in as a junior editor, I was like, 19, 20 years old, right? I’m 40 now. So I came in as a junior editor on her TV show, and this was a show that was like in literally like a hundred million homes around the world, it’s insane. And so I was an editor there and then, in like six months to eight months, my boss left and his boss left, and I found myself, like 20, 21 years old, being asked to lead a department, a media department at Precept. So I probably had 10 or 12 people under me, I think everybody but maybe one person is older than me, significantly older than me. But I learned so much there about leadership and how to, you know, not take advantage of people, and how to treat people right, and how to lead a team there.

So then I spent a few years there, and then I went to two large churches, one in Mississippi and then one in South Carolina. But the church I was at in Mississippi, this was a campus, this was a church of about I think we did like 25,000 on a Sunday, something like that, five campuses, it was huge, and I was the only video guy. I think we had a communications department, one guy did some videos here and there, for a few things, but, like, I was it. So the sermon bumpers, the promo videos, the baptism testament, everything on top of doing the production team on a Sunday morning that got the video out to all the campuses, and this is before Rezi was like, a big thing. I mean, this was like, you recorded to a drive, and you put the drives in a nuclear football suitcase and drive it across town and sync it up like that was me back in the day.

But I realized if I’m at a church at this size and I’m the only major video content creator guy, there’s no way a church of 200 is bringing on a guy like me. And so that began a journey of how can, and that God just laid it on my heart that, like, how can the church have high-quality video and graphics at an affordable price to where maybe they don’t have to bring on a full-time hire, or a full team, is there a way? And this is back in the day where the marketplaces of church media content was very, very few and far between. So that whole industry has kind of grown too, but that was kind of where he laid it on my heart, and so it’s kind of been a journey of going full time. And so 2015, I launched full-time, and so here we are almost a decade later still doing it.

That is that’s a cool story because I think, as you said, there are so many churches out there that really, you know, they don’t have the tools, they don’t have the staff, they may have some budget, but they don’t really know what to do and where to go, and you’ve created a product that is incredible. Like when you look at the stuff that you guys are actually producing for churches, it’s high, high level. Yet it doesn’t have a hefty price tag with it. That’s the beauty of being able to serve lots of churches right in one space because you can really leverage that. And so how have you been able to grow? Because this is a, you know, when I think about churches that want to create video in particular, in your opinion, what have you found to be the best product for a church that’s a smaller church when it comes to video?

Yeah, that is a good question. So I thought when we first started I would serve, and I wasn’t thinking that we’d have almost 30 people on our team now. I was not thinking we would have a team that size at this place in the game. But I thought that we would serve smaller churches that had no team, I thought that that was the kind of the target. But what I found over the years is that, especially now, in every church and ministry at every level, the demands on visual media, on them, are so high that they’re overloaded, they’re overwhelmed and overloaded. I was just, as of this recording, I was at a ministry last week that’s a huge ministry that we serve with, with VBS and other things, it was Answers in Genesis, I’ll just tell you. So we serve Answers in Genesis doing their VBS and curriculum work and stuff like that. And folks like that are even, you know, we could continue to hire on team and team and team, or we can hire you who has a team, and so it’s kind of a third of the cost of a staff member, or even if it’s the cost of one staff member, it’s still going to save you tons of money, to do it that way. So that’s kind of how we’ve been able to scale is that most every church on every level and ministries and artists, they all need help in the visual media arena. I mean, video is the currency of the day. I’m sure you can speak to that, the stats on video when it comes to marketing and communications are through the roof. People watch videos all day long.

Yeah, yeah. I mean, you’re mentioning when you got your start, you know, 20 some years. Same with me. It was like we’re talking old school stuff. But today, the way that you, you know, the way that people actually respond, right? We’re just people unchurched or church people, even church people. It’s all in this, this short.

Form vertical video, right? I mean, and that’s what you that’s what you specialize in.

Yeah. So we do three, three topics or three areas. One. Oh, you were asking, how does a church kind of come in or what what is the best process for a church. So we do three buckets. One is ready made and that is a library on our site of I think I was telling you before we started recording, it’s like 40,000 something assets, individual assets that we’ve created over the years, that a church can go on and either purchase that a la carte or by subscription. And I would say if you are a church, that that’s probably where you start. If you’re looking for high quality media, you go either us or another company out there, you you get ready made media first so you can download something for five bucks, ten bucks or a subscription for a few hundred dollars. You get everything. It’s high quality stuff that that’s where you start. If you’re ready to kind of take that to the next level. We serve churches and and ministries with custom media. So if you need a custom sermon graphic, a sermon bumper, a promo video, if you are a curriculum provider or an artist that needs lyric videos, that, that sort of thing, we make all of that from scratch, for you, and and again, it it is like this, you know, you could go and hire a team or usually we kind of come in at like a third of the cost of, of one staff member. and it will save your, your ministry a whole lot of money and time. So those, those two buckets and then we also have a training bucket that teaches ministry leaders how to use graphics and video effectively. Why? Because you need to you need to use those tools to visually communicate the Gospel. We want to see salvation and spiritual growth. That’s the goal. It’s not just to look great, it’s life change. Right?

Well, so yeah. So, I and I am I’m really impressed these days with this, what we call a ready made, kind of ready to go. You would think, oh, I don’t want to use, like, you know, stock photography or stock video. But I tell you right, there’s some really good stuff you wouldn’t really know to. It’d be hard for you to know that was stock versus versus actually people from your church. So I encourage you, you know, church, go out there and check that out. But, you know, another area though, that, you’re you’re putting this in your in your notes and, I’m a, I’m just a huge believer because, you know, we we get to build websites around here. And whenever I talk to a church, it’s always about stories. Because, you know, if your church is growing, Lord willing, that tells me that God is in your church. He’s moving in the lives of the people in your church because you’re growing. There’s fruit and there’s evidence of that. So your church, your job, church is to go find those stories and be able to articulate and share those stories with others so that they can see the hope. You know that Jesus can give for them like they done in those videos and those stories. So in your in your what you’ve said is like the staff really can focus on those. Yes, on those stories allowing you to focus on your expertise. So explain a little bit of that.

Yeah. So if you are after custom media and you do have somebody at your church or a team of creative, staff members, I would absolutely suggest you can only tell the stories of your church. So if it is a baptism video, if it is a testimony video, it is something like that. That’s not to say that you couldn’t shoot it and send it to us, and we could edit it and make it look pretty. But if you’re trying to decide between what should I outsource and what should I keep in house, I would send us a team like us. Stuff like your sermon series graphic, your sermon bumper, your men’s conference promo video, things like that. And you focus on two things one life change stories from your church and spending time with your volunteers. Like if you can spend time with which sounds, a little off the beaten path a little bit. But if you can pastor your people well, and so that you’re not in your office fighting with keyframes or fighting with Photoshop, you’re with your people, pastoring your people, that’s something only you can do. We can’t be there. We can make a video and send that to you. Now that’s off your plate. That could be a day or two off your plate that you can now pastor your people more and tell the and also tell the stories of your church. So yeah, that’s how I would structure it.

Yeah I that’s really good advice. I mean, I give the same advice because, you know, we step into kind of the advertising SEO world and you know, church website world and all that kind of stuff. It’s the same thing. It’s like, have your ministry people do ministry.

Right? And it sounds it sounds self-serving for me and you to say that, but it’s the truth. It’s like we cannot be there. And I would rather you build relationships with your volunteers. Your people go to the hospital and visit, like, whatever that looks like in your context. it’s the truth. I mean, I, you know, and I’ve tried to get over the like it sounds self-serving to say that, but whether you use us or somebody else, it’s still the truth.

It’s true. And on the other side of that, like, you know, I was for a decade a comm director, right? You’ve spent years working in two, two big, big churches, right? And so we’ve been on that side, and now we’re on this side going, hey, there’s so much you really want to leverage this ability to outsource things that, yeah, you could hire a full time person and maybe you even do have a full time person, but they still probably need some help. And you could outsource those things so that that full time person can stay focused on other things that just can’t get outsourced. And like you said, pouring into volunteers, right? Doing ministry, not programing, not, you know, sitting there behind a computer screen, actually get out there because you can’t outsource that. Correct. And I’m finding that to be so true. It seems like more and more and more churches are, are finding the ability to outsource things that can get outsourced, like HR and, you know, communications or, any kind of like, you know, video work. You can’t outsource your children’s ministry or your student ministry, right? You know, you know, outsource that stuff. That’s stuff done by pastors and staff people.

Yeah, exactly. and I think from a and this is, I’m cautious to say this, but, I’m a motion designer. I do motion graphics work. Right. And so when I am hiring new people and our team, honestly, that’s all on the video world. That’s all I hire because a motion designer can do video editing, a video editor can’t necessarily do motion graphics. The reason why I say this is because you’re you may have people on your team that could edit video, but it’s a whole different skill set to hire a motion designer. So you might be able to outsource things that are, at a higher level or with a different skill set as your internal team. So I think those have advantages too, is you might outsource a motion designer that could make it look a lot nicer. you know, at times than maybe your internal team or your budget can withstand. I know I want to be cautious of saying that because I don’t want to ding in-house creative people who are fantastic, who we come alongside and and work with. I’m just saying that sometimes a church can’t afford a motion designer, but they could outsource one. Yeah, that makes sense.

Oh, it it totally does. Yeah. It’s way. Way cost effective. It’s extremely affordable. and I see that all the time. I mean, it’s, you know, there’s reasons why churches outsource things. That’s because it’s like, well, they don’t have that expert on their staff and they don’t, you know, you don’t go hire somebody full time for that. It’s probably not a big need. And those unicorns, they’re not out there who can do like 10 or 12 great things. Yeah, you can usually do 1 or 2.

So I think so. So on on my podcast I’ve, I’ve had a couple of guys that that speak to that effect. Phil Battle’s one I’m sure you know Phil. So Phil and I are good friends and we, we talk about that quite often that I think churches think that put put they dump everything in this one job description and it and what they’re really asking for is a unicorn or multiple unicorns in that one job description. Church. They don’t exist. They don’t.

Know. And you don’t well, or you don’t have near the budget of salary. Correct.

Or it’s or it’s three. You’re asking for three unicorns in that job description. That’s right.

They don’t they’re. Yeah they might.

They might exist but and also to the stats show that if they do exist and you do get them, you you’re probably not going to keep them for more than three years. Five years maybe.

Yeah. Yeah. That that’s a, that’s a, that’s a big trend.


Unfortunately okay. So talk to us a little bit about um what what trends you have been seeing where video is being used.

Yeah, I would say motion graphics is a is a big is a big trend. motion allows you to be evergreen, meaning like if you shot a video with somebody on camera, a talent, and it’s a church staff member. that church staff member could leave. They could they it could be dated really quickly. Like, if you even if you had one guy on camera, that video is not going to last you that long before it. Motion graphics just allows you to be more evergreen. you mentioned it. Vertical video is definitely a trend. So shorts. things like that. so if you’re, if your pastor can do a little iPhone selfie video once a week, couple times a week and post that to your social media, that’s definitely a trend. I would also highly suggest that anyway, because your sermon is a gold mine of content that is highly underused in churches, I believe, to to take a pastor’s transcript and turn it into a blog and social posts and emails and and then you can have him go deeper during the week with selfie videos, things like that. that’s definitely the way to go, I think. So, yeah, motion graphics and vertical video is probably the top two that I would think of.

Yeah, yeah. And and lately I’ve been trying to teach churches that. It’s so that that that, that media is incredibly valuable. You just you just hit hit it perfectly there. But what I’ve also been trying to teach churches is that you don’t want to just put that on YouTube, although you do, because YouTube is the second largest search engine and it’s got millions and millions of people. You don’t also just want to put that on social media like Facebook or Instagram or TikTok. Super powerful right? Which you do. Right? You do, you want to put it there. But the difference but the problem with those two is you don’t own those platforms. You’re renting them. Yeah, I think most churches forget. About their website. They don’t mean.

You are nailing it with that, because that is so true. that you have to have and you guys are awesome at this of helping churches with their website and creating that platform that that they own, they control. Because you’re right. Facebook, YouTube, anybody can pull anything. Those companies can pull any content off of their platform that they want to, and we can spend our time fighting them. But at the end of the day, they own it. Yeah, I mean, they do. And so yeah, the more resources that and and the more diversified you are. You know, let’s say you house your sermon content on Vimeo as well as YouTube or or your own server. Then the then the less calls for that or the less opportunity for disaster. Yeah. If Facebook shuts you down, you could lose your entire library of oh, whatever in overnight. Boom.

Just like that. Yeah. Yeah. and my, my advice to, to churches is always, always drive them to the only piece of online that you own that you own. That’s your website. Nobody can steal that from you. They can’t change it from you anything. So if you’re not driving traffic to your website, that’s a problem. Second, if your website isn’t a resource hub. Yep, not just a brochure about your church, but a resource hub. If it’s not quite there yet, get it there.

Absolutely, absolutely.

Carl and his team build, create all that should go. On the website.

Yeah, you’re nailing it. Absolutely. It’s not just the front. It is the front door, but it’s also I you need to drive me there. Like, if I’m a member of the church, I’ve got to have a reason to keep going back. Yeah. Not just I mean, if I’ve seen the brochure, I’ve seen the brochure. There’s no reason for me to go back. But if there is content for me to engage with during the week, whether that’s sermon, devotionals, event information, any of that type stuff, drive me back there. It’s man that that you’re dead on. That’s exactly right.

Yeah, I love that, I love that. So, how does so tell me again, you know, because you mentioned the best way, probably to get started with, with you guys would be just doing some kind of a a purchase of a video short or. Tell me about that again.

Yeah. We have a, we have a free account on our website. So you’ll get a bundle of free media. it’s like $300 or something of, of completely free media and also access to a bunch of courses completely free. So that’s probably the easiest route for people to go church visuals. Com you can sign up for a free account and then if you like it, you know, our readymade is available a la carte and subscription. The the training content. 90% of our training content is free. So you’re talking podcasts and courses and webinars and articles and all kinds of stuff complete, completely free. and so I would say that’s a those are a good entry points. So just church visuals. Com and sign up for a free account and away you go see what you think.

You pretty much serve any size church. If you’re a church plant or you’re a church of, you know, yeah, 50,000 people. Right. You have a solution for everybody. Yeah.

So the readymade is kind of the, the, the Walmart approach a little bit, I guess. Right. It’s the, you know, the bottom shelf, easy to reach kind of stuff. Yeah. and then the more your church grows and is ready for custom media only designed to you. And that is so ready made. There’s advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are it’s a very affordable, it’s very high quality. The disadvantage would be you run the risk of the church down the road using the same exact thing, which there’s so much out there. I would say take the risk, especially if you’re a church plant, like, yeah, do it. but when you’re ready to move, which we’ve had a lot of churches that like, hey, I’ve been using you for Ready Made for years, can you make me some custom stuff? And a lot of churches do both. They’ll do ready made for a lot of, you know, graphics that you don’t, you know, happy Mother’s Day. You know, there’s we can make it custom for you, but it’s right there. so we have churches that do both. We’ll do our subscription and also have us, do you know all of their sermon stuff? custom. so, yeah, kind of kind of, no matter where you are in the process. And and that’s on purpose, man, because I’ve been there, I’ve been at the, at the church that like, I’m the one man band guy trying to make it all happen. So if I can pull some ready made stuff and go ahead and get that going while I’m doing this, I mean, the the needs on visual media, what are what have you found the just the stats on on video with communications and and marketing. Oh just through the roof.

It’s through. It’s tremendous and and it’s hard I like I got I’m just one church on my head right now. They can’t they can’t keep any of their people around. That’s the problem. Like you mean staff staff. Right. So you know, these young younger you know, younger people come in and and they learn and they get they get trained up. And then guess what happens. They go chase more money. And you know, you can’t blame them. Yeah. They’re gonna go take a job at a, you know, some corporate that’s going to pay them double. And that’s been the problem with most churches that I, that I get to work with is they’re, they’re retaining that talent is really difficult. So having an out of, you know, having a solution like you guys is really an answer to prayer because it’s affordable. Like video is not cheap. No it’s not I mean and the price tag is sometimes like a shocker. And you’re going, yeah, yeah, but you’re wanting this custom piece for, yeah, a two minute clip or something like that. Yeah. It’s going to cost thousands. I mean that’s just.

Yeah. So a normal custom sermon bumper for us a 30 to 60 second piece is 500 bucks. Okay. Yeah. Which for some churches that is like, what, 500 bucks? But like, if you broke that down from a full time staff member. Oh, yeah. Down to the month, down to the week, down to the hour. I mean, and you’re also using it for 4 to 6 weeks. I mean, it’s it’s super affordable. Yeah. It is, you know, and and when you put it in big I mean sometimes with custom we’re talking bigger numbers. But like, let’s say if you did a retainer with us for let’s just say 10 to $20,000, okay. You couldn’t hire a junior video editor for 20 grand? Oh, no. You know what I mean. Like so. So I mean, even though it’s these big, bigger numbers, when you put it in perspective, like, we’d have to get multiple 40 to 50 or plus thousand dollar a year full time hires and pay their insurance and pay their I mean, the numbers start to make more sense, you know? Yeah. Um.

Yeah. Those junior, those junior level guys, they grow up, they grow up trained up, and then they.

Yeah. Or they start a family and they’re like 20 grand, like, yeah, I can’t, I can’t afford this. I can’t afford my house, man. Yeah. So exactly I.

Agree with you. I think there’s a balance to say. You know, you always like we do a lot of com con, you know, communications consulting and stuff like that. And it’s it’s some for some churches it’s like that’s all they want to do is outsource all that to us. No problem. But most churches, it’s kind of a balance between having somebody on staff who. Yeah, who has awareness of it, who can do it. But you’ve got this tool that’s outside who you know, missional marketing for, for you guys is. Yeah. You know, it’s it’s the idea that we care desperately about. About Jesus. And we want to we want more and more people to follow him. And so we’re very eagerly yoked with the church in our in our mission together. Yeah. And that’s the same with with you guys. Yeah.

I think your, your name says that and you have a specific skill set. I mean we use you guys for SEO and for, for other work. Why. Because you guys are skilled in that area. And I think that’s the same for for churches. Like why try to go out and hire a full time SEO guy when I can have the power of the team of missional marketing and the experience. Yeah. Behind it to to do so, it yeah, it really starts to make sense.

It’d be. Yeah. It’d be the same thing here too. Right. You know, so I don’t know church visuals. Com I tell you I’m, I’m so pumped and excited for.

Thank you for.

You and, and, if you guys don’t know Carl, he’s just a great guy. He’s got a cool thing going on here. And so go check church visuals. Com brand new name, brand new website. It’s 2024. What are you what are you looking for in 2024? What’s man.

So, uh. It’s funny. So we’ve been working on this new website for almost a year. I mean, and this rebrand stuff. So honestly, I’m looking forward to, like, a nap, like, that that’s what I mean, to be honest. Like, you might see me at conferences and stuff still, but, like, I’ll be, like, dragging, like I need a nap or something before I. So that that’s not the answer that you were expecting. But like, just to collapse for a few days is probably what I’m looking forward to the most.

Oh that’s awesome. Well, I know that, you know, God’s blessed you. And there’s a reason why, thank you. And you’re you’re just like us. I my prayer at missional marketing. And I’m sure it’s the same thing. You’re you’re at your your company is if God’s not in it, I want it to collapse like a bad talker. Absolutely.

Yeah. Yeah. And and I go back to that that like your video and graphics could look incredible. But if you’re not seeing life change happen in your church, who cares? Like we’ve got to it’s got to be about the Gospel. Yeah. And and you guys have that in your name I love that that like it is missional. It it is about the Gospel. It is. And if it’s not I you know, I don’t want to do it.

Who wants to be a part of that. Yeah. Yeah. But Carl thanks, man, I appreciate you. Thanks for, for jumping into our podcast today and just teaching us a little bit more about this. And again, guys, go to church visuals. Com check out what what Carl has built here. It’s a it’s a cool thing. And if you’ve got any even if you’ve got any just questions he’s available. and so reach out to Carl I, you know, what’s the best way to get Ahold of you for somebody? Yeah.

You can email me directly. Carl at Church Visuals. Com if you have any questions or find me on the socials. all of that. So. Yeah. Man. Jason, thank you so much for for having me. This is such a blast. Really. appreciate you inviting me to come on.

Well, thanks for thanks for joining us. And, until next time, thanks for tuning in to our, our podcast.

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