This week I wanted to highlight the ministry of two Evangelical Friends and some of the cool things they’re doing.
Matt Taflan and Shawn Belt, both from Ohio, have joined together in Florida to make short video devotionals they are calling DVDevos. They see this as an opportunity to bring together creativity and Christian faith, for the use of discipling others in biblical truths. I personally think it’s a real interesting project and something I’d hope succeeds. I see the project especially helpful for youth ministries (though not limited to that sphere) where teens look for something a little more media-driven, but I also think it will inspire more young people to combine their faith and creativity and get involved in the arts.
I remember meeting Matt and Shawn years ago. Shawn and I both went to school together at Malone College. He was a few years behind me, but I still remember the excitement and enthusiasm that surrounded him everywhere he went. I also remember we took one a Bible class with Dr. Herbert Dymale together, always a memorable experience! And then later we worked together some as youth pastors for the Friends church, bumping into each other at rally’s and what-not.
I met Matt when I was a youth pastor at Barberton Evangelical Friends Church in Ohio almost 6 years ago now. The first time was at a youth rally Willoughby Hill Friends Church puts on every year known as Youth Explosion. He was running the video cameras and showing some of the videos he made called Face-Ups. The point of the video short (1-3 min) was to teach a basic Christian truth in a visually appealing way – we all loved the what he put together and it was a big hit with the teens. A couple years ago he flew out to LA to be the director of photography of the film I directed called,Liars and Cheaters.
A Short Interview with the Makers DVDevos
What is the point of this new project and what do you hope to accomplish?
MATT: DVDEVOS exists to challenge and encourage people in their lives with a God who loves and pursues them immensely. We want to create a base of people who are interested in pulling together their passions and talents and ideas to ultimately glorify God.
SHAWN: The goal of DVDEVOS is Christian discipleship. The core of DVDEVOS is audio/visual media in a dvd format, including core videos of 9-12 minutes, other smaller videos, as well as independent music and artwork, which is meant for both group and one-person settings. We hope to introduce this type of tool (discipleship media) to whoever God leads us to.
How did you get started doing this?
MATT: 7 years ago I had the initial idea for DVDEVOS. I had a name for it and some basic ideas. At the time I had no working knowledge of video equipment or technique, but over the years the idea has changed a bit.
How do you both know each other – How did you end up working together?
SHAWN: I met Matt at a summer camp for Friends back when I was in college and he was just out of high school. We happened to meet back up when he needed a place to stay and moved in with me up in Chardon, Ohio. It was while we were living together in Ohio that we started work on DVDEVOS.
What’s your background in video production?
MATT: I have my associates degree in Film and Video Production, I studied at Full Sail Real World Education And I graduated in October of 2006. I’ve been operating my own video production business on a smaller scale for over 5 years.
SHAWN: None, haha.
What kind of equipment do you use?
MATT: Whatever I can get my hands on. I own a Mac G5 with dual 2.7 Ghz procs and I run FCP and Photoshop CS, and dvd studio3. I have an old Sony TRV900 3CCD camcorder I’m still stuck with for $ reasons, but its been around the world with me (literally) and it gets the job done.
SHAWN: Big expensive stuff, I think…
What use do you see film playing in the life of the church?
MATT: I think that the use of film for Christians’ sake will be limited to the minds of the people that use and absorb it. There will always be those who are captivated by its form of communication above all other forms, and as long as this is true, then these same people will sustain it as an art form irreplaceable in todays society.
SHAWN: So much of our culture is visually-oriented, so it would seem that visual media could be a good tool. Depending on the group of believers, film can be a major way that they get good teaching.
How do you come up with the ideas for the videos?
MATT: We gather ideas from times we spend with God in deff. Ways. Listening to preachers, music, friends, nature… Almost anywhere that the voice of God can be heard.
SHAWN: Jesus gives them to us. Life experiences are a big source of what we talk about. The Bible and literature from Christian authors provides a large source for me, because I see ways to synthesize lessons and teachings or to relay them to audiences that I want to reach. Another source is stupid stuff that Christians do or are taught that make no sense at all so we feel the need (or desire) to make fun of it as much as we can, then laugh a lot (just cruise
through town and read all the church-building signs—i.e. You catch them, well clean them???–>no joke, we actually saw that one down here in Orlando)
Most of life these days consists of visual and audio media coming at us in one way or another. Because of this I think it is both important for Christians to abstain from ingesting large amounts of media, and also be involved in it, participating in the good of creativity.
Something like DVDevos brings up the question about what tools are best to use for sharing God’s message with others? Do we in the process of sharing God in various forms of media make the medium itself a god? And how do we avoid falling into those kinds of traps? How do we use media to promote community and not more individualism? These are questions all Christian artists need to ask.
What I like about Matt and Shawn’s project is that they are trying to take something that often gets used for less-than-kingdom-purposes and use it for good. We can’t avoid the culture, we can pretend it’s not there, but we can’t avoid the effects it’s having on those around us. Christians too need to be involved in creating art in ways that understands its power and tries to use it for God’s purposes.
With the success of the Nooma films I think it’s apparent that there is more to be gained by Christians involving themselves in this area of the arts. And I am glad that we’ve got some Quakers doing it!
The guys also tell me you can email them for a free copy of their intro DVD (see email below).
All photos property of taflan pictures
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