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Technology: Digital libraries

Technology: Digital libraries

Technology: Digital libraries

Charlie Horrell, CEO at Imagen, details how places of worship are sharing their growing digital libraries

It’s becoming increasingly vital for places of worship to be tech-savvy and innovative in order to engage existing members, especially young people. Consequently, video and image assets are becoming an integral part of the global worship community, both to encourage greater participation and to expand and connect with others. This is leading many religious institutions to record and post videos on their websites or social media so that busy individuals can catch up with sermons on demand. However, for more technically challenged organisations, storing and sharing their growing content libraries is proving difficult.

The challenges

Capturing content is something some religious organisations have been doing for a long time. Consequently, they now have a significant back catalogue which means it can be difficult to find archive footage. With a growing library, pinpointing a certain clip that contains a particular message or sermon can be a difficult task. Yet, this content is valuable and can’t be recreated. Therefore, storing it safely and being able to access and share it easily is essential.

Charlie Horrell, Imagen CEO
Charlie Horrell, Imagen CEO

Most religious institutions aren’t known for their technology. Rather, they often have ineffective systems in place to store and share content. So, how can places of worship overcome the challenges an extensive digital library presents?

The solution

As these organisations continue to create new content on a more frequent basis, the size and scale of the problem they are dealing with in terms of the management and storage of content will grow in tandem. To alleviate this, these organisations must look to implement a more robust, cloud-based solution that has the benefit of being able to scale as they accumulate more content and followers. This will ensure their digital assets are not only protected but can also be reused in the future.

Pastor Jack Hayford's subscription platform, the Gateway Resource Library
Pastor Jack Hayford's subscription platform, the Gateway Resource Library

While this will require a small initial investment of time and money to implement, it is a low-risk, high-reward option that will allow religious entities to safely store, search and share content with their followers. This could be particularly helpful for those organisations that want to provide services that fit in with increasingly busy lives.


There are already a number of places of worship that are adopting a single digital solution to capitalise on their content catalogues and to cater to the growing demand for video content. This demand is evidenced by research that found that 31% of all millennials watch videos pertaining to faith online, a number that is set to grow in line with the expectation that by 2021, 82% of all consumer internet content will be video.

One organisation that has recognised the importance of these trends is Christian Vision, which uses Imagen’s video management platform. Since implementing a cloud-based content platform, it has been able to share its collection of videos, both old and new, with its subscribers worldwide. Embracing this technology also presents an opportunity for religious bodies to digitise footage that may currently only exist on film or video and is therefore easily lost, damaged or destroyed. This is something that American pastor Jack Hayford has recognised in digitising his sermons spanning almost 40 years and making them available to the public online.

Adopting a cloud-based video portal also offers religious institutions a growing number of digital capabilities. For instance, Christian Vision makes use of speech-to-text technology, which enables large volumes of uncatalogued video to be indexed and searched using natural or specific phrasing. It also makes it possible to generate automated transcriptions from videos or audio, which can then be shared or even translated into other languages to reach an even wider audience. A further function is being able to annotate videos with notes and information so that extra information can be conveyed to the viewer.

The need to digitise physical assets is an issue most of us can relate to in our personal lives, with many of us likely to have old photo albums from our childhood or video tapes containing camcorder footage stored in shoeboxes or at the back of a cupboard. However, with so much sentimental value often attached to this content, most of us are willing to pay for a cloud solution that will allow us to digitise and store all this content in one place, giving us assurance of its long-term security. For places of worship, safeguarding content in a digital library could also present the opportunity to monetise it and help to open up new revenue streams for these institutions. For instance, they may decide to set up subscription services to enable the wider community to access particular content or allow broadcasters to buy certain resources for films.

Pastor Jack Hayford has also set up a subscription platform to allow people to sign up and gain access to sermons and resources from over 30 years, while providing an option to donate to the church in the process. The organisation has eight locations, in addition to several prison campuses, with more than 30,000 people attending each weekend. An online video platform allows the church to realise the true potential of its assets, stay connected to its congregation and enable people, no matter where they are based, to become part of the wider Jack Hayford community. 

Creating a digital content library using a cloud-based solution is a great way to do this, as it allows houses of worship to make good use of existing content, is futureproofed for new content and makes it easy to share videos across social media and on websites. In the UK, attendance at the Church of England’s Sunday services has dropped. Organisations like this would thereby benefit from engaging with and attracting followers in a new, more modern way that fits around individuals’ busy lives.

As these organisations continue to amass new material on a weekly – if not daily – basis, those that fail to address the challenge of storing existing content will only see the problem worsen. Yet, those that act and implement a new solution stand to benefit greatly from a more efficient system that not only grants peace of mind and ease of use but also the potential to create new revenue streams and attract new generations.

This article was first published in the January-February 2020 edition of Worship AVL. Subscribe at or read on Issuu.

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