Peace Devotions – Gospel Centered Devotions for Social Media

Philip Wels (Mankato, Minnesota USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

Philip Wels is a Video Production Professional who specializes in video editing and streaming/recording systems for churches. In addition to Peace Devotions, Philip co-produces Canaan Bound Podcast and helps manage the social media accounts for various groups. When not working, he enjoys reading, watching films, or working on his many creative side projects.


Peace Devotions are short video devotions created for distribution on Facebook and other social media platforms. The project has been blessed, though we have also faced some challenges.

My plan here is to start by giving a short background on Peace Devotions and discuss our initial goals and expectations. Next, I'll dive into the production process and talk about some of the blessings and challenges we've faced over the last year. Finally, I plan to share a few things we've learned and consider our goals for the future of the project.

For me, this is an opportunity to both share and learn. I'll be posing questions throughout this article – questions about choices we've made or options we've discussed. I invite you to chime in, ask your own questions, or offer feedback on any part of the process.


The initial planning for Peace Devotions began in the summer of 2017. We (that is, Peace Lutheran Church, in North Mankato, Minnesota) found ourselves blessed with the resources to attempt this project. We had the talent, equipment, and a little bit of initial funding.

We filmed and edited a quick pilot devotion and used that to guide our initial requirements. The list was fairly simple: The Gospel must predominate in every devotion. This Gospel imperative is essential to our mission. Next, each video needs an analogy, a quick story to grab audience attention. Ideally each video would have photos or videos depicting the analogy, aka b-roll. And finally, the videos have to be short. Under three minutes is the sweet spot for us. It's easy to lament the short attention span of people browsing Facebook, but our test devotion was only five minutes long and it was difficult to watch the whole thing.

Questions: How important is visual imagery when watching social media videos? How important is video length when watching video on social media?

Video viewing on the internet continues to skyrocket, yet many people are watching video on their phones with the sound off. One of our secondary requirements was that each video needed to have subtitles or closed captioning. Having the video text also allows us to post text transcripts with each video. This makes the videos easily searchable for content and it means we can send out an email version of the video in text form each day too. At some point we'd like to provide captioning in multiple languages.

Questions: How do you typically watch videos? With the volume off? With subtitles? For devotional material, do you prefer audio, video, or written word? Why?

One conscious choice we made at the start was that we didn't want these devotions to "feel needy." Nearly every video online today ends with "like, comment, and subscribe!" (People joke that "like and subscribe" is now how you say "goodbye.") Podcasts are constantly reminding listeners to "support me on Patreon." We wanted our videos to feel different.

As creators for these devotions, we didn't want the message to be "give to help us create" but rather "your Creator has given himself for you."

Questions: It's 2018, is everyone online familiar with the concept of liking, following, and subscribing? Is it important to remind viewers to "like and subscribe?" By not calling for action, do we risk not growing our subscriber base? Should growing the follower base be a priority?


Initially we started by producing five videos a week, one each weekday. That is still our goal, but when our initial funding ran out we scaled back to two videos a week, then one video a week. At the time of this writing, we have been granted six months of funding to create two videos per week.

Producing five videos a week is very ambitious, but it also provides many benefits. First, social media sites tend to promote content creators when they have regular content coming out. Posting new content daily helps keep us in the quickly changing newsfeeds.

A second benefit is that this enables producers to make this their primary focus. For the first six months of this project, producing Peace Devotions was my full-time job. As we've scaled back, I've needed to take on other jobs and Peace Devotions, in turn, receives less attention.

Questions: In your opinion, how many videos per week is ideal? As an audience, how do you structure your daily routine around your favorite content?

One of the blessings which allowed us to attempt such an ambitious project is that we had easy access to high end video equipment and people who know how to use it. Through Bethany Lutheran College and local video producers we've been able to borrow the equipment necessary to film the devotions. The production crew has also generously donated their time to the project so far. Our only real expense is post-production.

We typically film with two or three Canon DSLR cameras and usually use a separate Sony camera just for audio. The main camera is mounted on a curved motorized slider which is slowly moved back and forth during the filming. We capture audio with Sony lavalier microphones, but also use shotgun mics, especially when filming out of doors.

At first, we scheduled filming days every two weeks, but as we've been able to get more pastors involved, we've been able to film once every three weeks or once a month. Each Pastor typically comes with five devotions planned to film and we rotate through them, filming one Pastor while the others prep for their next devotion. Occasionally we'll do one off the cuff if we have a good idea.

Post-production is done using the Adobe Create Cloud suite. Cameras are imported into Premiere, synced, and placed into multi-camera clips. Audio is extracted and cleaned up. Devotions are edited, switching between cameras to provide variety and cover up pauses or restarts. B-roll, stock footage, and stock imagery is added. Sometimes I film this myself if I can't find quite what I'm looking for. Text from the Bible passages is inserted or overlaid. Music is added, and color is corrected.

Completed videos need closed-captioning and then can be scheduled for posting. I like to schedule the posts for the coming week on Friday. When possible, I try to schedule two weeks in advance. We currently post videos to a handful of locations. Our Facebook page is our original intended audience. We also post to YouTube and to our blog, The website will automatically send out tweets (to Twitter) when new devotions are published. We also post an audio only podcast version of each devotion which can be found on virtually every podcast service. Finally, we send out email versions of the devotion to those on our mailing list.

We developed a skill for the Amazon Echo so Peace Devotions can be added to a users' daily Flash Briefing. The podcast version also allows iPhone or HomePod owners to ask Siri to "Play Peace Devotions Audio" and have the latest episode begin playing immediately.

Questions: Do you close-caption videos? If so, do you have tips and tricks to share? What social media sites do you prefer for posting content? Which other services would you like to see Peace Devotions on? What social media trends have you noticed over the last six months?

Each video is a little bit different, though it usually takes three to five hours to edit a video from beginning to end. Posting and scheduling all the different social media posts can add another 30 to 60 minutes to the process.

About a month into our project, we decided that our videos should be square (1x1), rather than the classic 16x9 size of standard HD video. Many people watch content on their phones, but don't tip their phone sideways when watching videos. Making our videos square means the videos are larger when in portrait mode.

Questions: Do you use square or vertical video? How vital is it to adapt to trend changes like this across technology?

The Future

Question: Who is the target audience for Peace Devotions?

This is a question we've asked ourselves several times. On one hand, these videos are meant for all believers as a daily reminder of God's love, forgiveness, and peace. On the other hand, we're posting these publicly on the internet for everyone. These short two-minute videos might be someone's only interaction with a church. It might be the only time someone hears about Jesus. Which leads to another question:

Questions: What level of content should these videos contain? Should we use words like "justification," "sanctification," or other "church words?"

We did a few videos on parts of the church service. Personally, I loved the series, walking through each section, learning more about it. View count on those devotions tended to be lower than view counts on other videos. Was that due to Facebook's algorithm or the chosen subject matter? It's hard to be sure.

On the whole, we've done very little paid promotion for Peace Devotions on Facebook. We've boosted our page when we first made it and we've boosted a couple of posts, but overall, we've tried to keep our reach organic.

Questions: Have you had success in boosting posts on Facebook? Is there a danger in boosting posts too much? Is there a danger in not boosting your posts enough? As church bodies, what demographics should we be targeting when we boost our posts?

Ultimately, a project like Peace Devotions relies on funding. Without the ability to pay for production and post-production, this level of creation is just not sustainable. Ideally, we'd like to be able to give a small "usage fee" to the entities providing cameras and equipment. Cameras wear down and break on occasion and we'd rather not that Peace Devotions became an extra burden on those providing high end production gear. And while one might say it's part of their pastoral duties, wouldn't it be great to give the pastors a little gift for the time they've put into this? (At the time of this writing they've provided us with over seven hours of finished devotional content.)

As we look to the future, we have funding for the next few months, possibly even for the next year, but then what?

Questions: Can a video ministry be sustained by private donors and grants? Is it important for viewers to know where funding comes from? If funding goes away, can a ministry such as this survive on crowd-funding or audience donations? How do we ask for money without "sounding needy," or without adding our voices to the common call for donations, pledges, and financial commitments?

There are other concerns too. What happens if (when?) Facebook decides our content is "fake" or doesn't belong on their platform? What happens if we get banned from YouTube?

Faced with the potential for future problems, I'm reminded of what my friend said as we began our devotional video series. "Let God worry about the funding." It's important with any ministry, to remember that God is the one who makes it all possible. He will bless our efforts as he sees fit. We only do what we can to "gather disciples from all nations" and trust that he will be with us "always until the end of the age."

Below are the various ways you can access Peace Devotions.

"Like and Subscribe"

To Like and Follow on Facebook go to and click the "Like" button. If you'd like to make sure you see every new devotion, be sure to set your notification settings for the page to "See First." (This can be done with the "Following" button.)

If you'd like Peace Devotions in your inbox, go to and fill out the short contact form. The next time a devotion goes live, you'll get an email with the devotion text and a link to YouTube.

To watch on YouTube, visit and click subscribe. Note: YouTube doesn't always notify subscribers about new videos.

If you'd rather read on our blog you can find our RSS feed at or follow our Twitter account by visiting

For the audio podcast, visit and you'll be directed to our podcast homepage. Click the button that says: "Listen on your favorite app" and then click the link to your podcast player of choice. If your app of choice isn't listed, you should be able to use the page url to add the podcast to your player.

Alternatively, if you have an Amazon Echo you can add Peace Devotions to your Flash Briefing. (Flash briefings are activated with "Alexa, what's new?" and can be configured with the Alexa app on mobile.)

On Apple devices you can say "Hey Siri, play the podcast Peace Devotions Audio" and Siri will start playing the latest devotion. You will need the Apple podcast player app, and some patience with careful pronunciation, but it works.

If you have a Google Home you can say "Hey Google, play the podcast Peace Devotions Audio" and Google will start playing the latest devotion.


Facebook: (Click Like. Click Follow. Choose "See First.")
Email: (Sign up form)
YouTube: (Subscribe)
Twitter: (Follow)
"Hey Siri, play the podcast Peace Devotions Audio."
"Hey Google, play the podcast Peace Devotions Audio."

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Return to original language with "show original" button at top left.


Nate Abrahamson (Abiding Shepherd Lutheran Church) 2018-10-22 10:43:42pm
Hi Phil, tha is for your work! I was surprised/interested to read your comment about people liking to watch videos with the sound off. I do that all the time. I didn't realize others are doing it so often. Many times when I see videos I'm not in a location where having the sound on would be acceptable or comfortable so I just read the captions. I still prefer the video over straight text however. A video where I still get the video, can see exactly how long it will take to watch, and have the option of reading captions or listening is really ideal.
Philip Wels 2018-10-24 7:40:12pm
Huh. It never occurred to me that the time indicator and knowing how long a video will be is such a compelling feature.
Ben Lundsten (Minnesota Valley Lutheran High School) 2018-10-25 10:32:38pm
One of the first things I do when I watch a video, now that I'm actually thinking about my habits, is hover over the video or tap it once to check the length.
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 8:58:41pm
Yeah, now that you say this... I think I do this too.
Heaven Bausley (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-24 12:41:12pm
Mr. Wels,

I find it amazing that you guys as a team make it possible for your devotions to be heard on different social media platforms. I especially appreciate how you not only make this a segment for believers but as well as to the public if they would like. I liked the reminder you stated saying, “These short two-minute videos might be someone's only interaction with a church. It might be the only time someone hears about Jesus.” That is very essential to remember seeing as some are not always able to hear it as often or at all due to certain circumstances and I thought that was cool.

Reading through the process of how you got this started and how it is effective today I thought it would be convenient to have this on every social media possible. Some people may not have just the one on which you guys post the most so it would be nice for them to be able to listen on whatever they use daily.

When reading about what your organization is I wondered what made you start getting into this? Was there an experience you had or saw that got it really going for you? Also are there more topics you discuss than just peace that could be beneficial in the long run that also remind us of our Savior and how he is always with us?

Thank you again for your contribution and allowing others to hear about the message of God!
Philip Wels 2018-10-24 7:53:08pm
Heaven Bausley, thank you for your kind words.

> I wondered what made you start getting into this?

Honestly, God just put everything together for me (us.) My background is in video production and especially post production. I was looking for work around Mankato. And things just kind of happened. I'd thought a few times that it would be fun to be part of a video ministry team, but when I was looking around the few I knew about weren't hiring.

As for other topics, I would envision, Lord willing of course, that our videos could cover a wide range of topics. I would love to have a library of videos, easily searchable, and sharable so that if you know someone hurting, or sad, or feeling guilty, or whatever, there's a message there for them.

You mention other social media platforms. Are there any in particular you would suggest we look into? Any that might be good for posting 2-3 minute long videos?
Kate Aswege (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-24 1:48:29pm
Mr. Wels,

After reading your piece on Peace Devotions, the part that I appreciated the most is how important the gospel is in your devotions. This is the very first thing stated in your requirements, “the Gospel must predominate in every devotion. This Gospel imperative is essential to our mission”, which shows its importance. This especially is helpful because ultimately the Gospel is what we as Christians want unbelievers to take away; it is the saving news that we believe through faith.

After reading your article on Peace Devotions, my only suggestion would be to possibly have small series on simple issues that don’t require a lot of “church words”. Personally, I think it would help keep people engaged and coming back to the devotions week after week. I know I would! Small series on different topics can be beneficial, especially if they are short, relatable, and accessible, which is exactly what yours are.

After reading your article, I was wondering where you find the pastors to do this. Is it just within your church or in the surrounding area churches as well? I know that since Bethany Lutheran College and Martin Luther College are just minutes away you could be using their professors and pastors. You also mentioned that you have “been able to get more pastors involved”. How many pastors are contributing to the project? Would you ever consider going further from just Mankato to talk to different pastors for your devotions?

Thank you for your contribution to the conference and your work in spreading the gospel!
Philip Wels 2018-10-24 8:05:11pm
Kate, thanks for your kind words. You mentioned doing small series on different topics, are there any topics in particular that you would be interested in seeing?

Concerning the pastors we have, we decided that the two pastors at Peace (Pastor Tim Hartwig and Pastor Matt Moldstad) would be our two main presenters. Since the ELS Synod office is located in Mankato we occasionally have other ELS pastors in the area who also have recorded for us. Pastor Kyle Madson serves a nearby congregation and he has been great to have as well. We recorded a handful of pastors when they came to town for the yearly synod convention. Currently, I think we have 11 different pastors who have done at least one devotion for us. Personally, I think it's best to have a core group of 2-4 pastors as our main on-camera-personalities, because that helps maintain a consistent brand and feel.

That said, I would also love to have more pastors join in. It helps give a little variety to our production. Of course, some of this depends on how many devotions are being put out each week.
Kate Aswege (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-30 9:56:47pm
Maybe something on the fruits of the Spirit, finding identity in Christ (as a college student who isn't always sure of her path this would be incredibly helpful), something on our gifts and using them for a purpose, how to navigate life with Jesus (even at MLC it is sometimes hard to keep Jesus as a priority with all the new freedom...even though multiple opportunities are offered every single day). Again, just a few ideas!
Philip Wels 2018-11-02 5:46:44pm
Kate these are great ideas. I'll pass them along so they get on our idea list.
Elena Thoma (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-24 2:01:11pm
Elena Thoma,

I very much enjoyed the devotions I had the opportunity to watch on your facebook page. The devotion’s messages were clear and uplifting, and the videography was very well done. I feel that each one I watched accomplished your stated goal of delivering “a daily reminder of God's love, forgiveness, and peace” for all believers who watch them. I also loved the way you described your position on the amount of “viewers” you have. You stated it like this: As creators for these devotions, we didn't want the message to be "give to help us create" but rather "your Creator has given himself for you." I think that is the exact mindset needed when striving to succeed in a project like this.

In response to one of the questions you posted, I believe visual imagery can only be a great benefit to these devotional videos. I think it is important to provide images to capture the viewer's attention and also assist their brain in making all of the connections so that they can obtain the renewing facts of the Gospel.

After reading this article, I was wondering if there are a few other ways that these videos can be presented to people. I realize that this is a relatively new project and that it is just getting started, but I know many who would love to know about it and haven’t heard of them. You mention many different ways that viewers can be informed that videos are being posted and when but are there more ways that they can be introduced to believers who have not yet found this excellent resource of the Gospel.

Thank you so much for your article and for your work in providing these devotional videos that are delivering the uplifting message of the gospel to so many!
Philip Wels 2018-10-24 8:13:08pm
Elena, I'm glad you have enjoyed the devotions.

I'm always looking (or listening) for new ways to present or post our devotions. Do you have any good ideas for us to look into? I've been keeping an eye on Instagram and Snapchat as potential venues to post our videos, but my understanding is that there are still video length limits in place (some as short as 10 seconds.)
Leah Wolfrath (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-24 9:52:43pm

Mr. Wels,

I deeply appreciate your passion for spreading the love of God through videos and social media. Social media platforms are very powerful and can be very useful to spread the gospel. It is amazing that you have been so blessed to take on this type of task and have the skills to do it. It is important that you made the statement that “the gospel must predominate in every devotion.”

As I read through your piece, one thing that popped into my head was that it doesn’t seem that there are many different groups of people represented in the devotions. By having a range of people in the videos, I think it could show how far and wide God’s love really does go. Perhaps by having several demographics such as age, race, and so on could have a greater impact on more people.

Although the question and answer format of this article helped to resolve a lot of the fragments of questions floating around in my head, I am still curious about your target group for these devotions. Obviously reaching as many people as possible is the goal, and Facebook naturally has a certain group of people attracted to it. That being said, is there a certain group of people in mind for each short video? Seeing as “it might be the only time someone hears about Jesus,” would having a more specific target audience help spread the word of the Lord more effectively?
Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 7:49:20pm
Leah, thanks for your feedback.

You say that there "doesn't seem that there are many different groups of people represented in the devotions." Are you able to elaborate on this? I want to make sure I understand what you mean. Are you referring to the Pastors giving the presentations or the images used during the devotion?

As far as the target group for our devotions... I don't know how to best answer that. I think, ultimately, each devotion is going to resonate with a different group of people, much like a sermon at church. Is there a specific audience that you think we should look at targeting?
Paul Grubbs (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-25 12:49:12pm
Mr. Wels,

I appreciated this guided tour of your experiences working to establish a digital resource that can be valuable for members and an effective tool for outreach. The backstory for Peace Devotions helped me better appreciate the logistical and technical challenges that accompany that work. On the topic of devotion writing, I liked this point of emphasis: “each video needs an analogy, a quick story to grab audience attention.” In my Creative Writing class at Martin Luther College, students prepare 2-3 minute “Metaphor of Faith” talks where they rehearse using an accessible analogy to address a common spiritual question. I certainly second the value in rooting even brief spiritual teaching in something familiar.

One question I had after reading your material and considering a handful of the devotions on YouTube: I know there are clear dangers in trying to measure any ministry in earthly terms, but do you attempt to set any benchmarks for success or progress as you continue with the project - whether in terms of views or some other means? Do you have any thoughts about how a congregation might measure whether these types of projects are the best use of their limited time and talents?

Your set of diagnostic questions along the way are a great roadmap to another group seeking to develop their own digital ministry. Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 8:01:42pm
Paul, great feedback! Thank's for joining in the discussion.

I do keep track of our views and our reach for each devotion so we have a limited idea of how many people are seeing each one or how popular each one is. It's tough to measure though. Facebook and YouTube both have algorithms that choose who gets to see our content. If a devotion get's a lot of attention it usually means people are commenting on it or sharing it. If it doesn't get as much reach, it either means Facebook isn't showing it to users or the viewership isn't engaged with the content.

That said, our Facebook likes/followers continues to rise and the feedback we hear is that people love watching and reading the devotions.

This project has connected us with a handful of individuals who have reached out to us needing to hear about God's love and forgiveness. And that, to me, is a great metric to use. It means the Lord is blessing our ministry and using it to reach people who need it most. I pray he continues to bless our efforts to his glory.
Kelsey Birschbach (Martin Luther College Student) 2018-10-25 1:08:09pm
Mr. Wels,

I appreciate all the time and thought process that went into this. It is such of use to those who are not as mobile and are able to go online to see these devotions. And not just them but like you said, “ these videos are meant for all believers as a daily reminder of God's love, forgiveness, and peace.” These devotions could be the only time they hear God’s word and that is what may keep them believing in God. It may even strike their curiosity and make them want to start going to church or a bible study or talk with the local pastor. This is such a great way to have people stay connected in faith.

These it so much work gone into this and you said “ Initially we started by producing five videos a week, one each weekday”. It is just so awesome how passionate and all the time and effort that was put into this and it is spreading so fast. Everyone is hearing about and it is getting spread across social media. I was wondering if you knew how many people watch the podcast and audios and is it spreading further into other countries?

Thank you for your contribution to the conference and to share the gospel and get more and more people to come to faith with God
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 8:07:40pm
Kelsey, thank you for your kind words and participation in the discussion.

We usually have somewhere between 300 and 2000 views on Facebook*, a dozen or two on YouTube, and the audio version gets around 50 listens per devotion. Most our viewers are from the United States and most are from the Midwest, but we've seen viewership from Tanzania, Germany, and all around the world.

Exciting news for us, this last week we surpassed 1000 likes on our Facebook page!

* 300-2000 is a pretty big range, I know. Our average is about 1000 views per video, but from day to day the numbers do have a lot of fluctuation.
Isaac Schulz (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-25 1:08:59pm
Philip Wels,

I think you and your whole church have started something very special. It is such a blessing that the Lord gave Peace Lutheran Church the high-quality camera equipment and a group of people who know how to use it, as a tool to spread the gospel. The sad truth of today is people’s attention spans seem to be getting slimmer. I think you have adapted well to this by making each video between 2 to 3 minutes. You and your team do a very impressive job packing a gospel-centered message into this short amount of time.

After reading about your ideas for the future of Peace Devotions, I wondered if you have plans to add a third weekly devotion? This way your audience could view a comforting message every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, making it part of their weekly routine. I noticed that video editing is a big part of the process in video production, and would suggest possibly cutting down on the amount of camera angles and editing to free up extra time for an additional devotion every week. Wherever God’s Word is preached, there the Holy Spirit is to plant and grow faith in the heart.

Thank you for your contribution to the conference, and my prayers will be with you and your whole church as you use your God-given gifts to the fullest.
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 8:23:54pm
Isaac thank you for your thoughts and suggestions.

I would LOVE more than anything right now to add a third weekly devotion. In fact, I'd love to add two more devotions so we can have one every day, Monday thru Friday. Currently the ELS has... eh, for lack of a better phrase "commissioned" us to make 2 videos a week for 6 months. We're currently praying (and looking) for more funding so we can do more videos per week, but also go longer than 6 months.

We have scaled back on the number of camera angles we use, and that has helped a little on the post production side.

But we don't want to scale things back too far. Part of our "brand," if I can use a term from Jim Aderman's paper, is that our videos are well produced. Video online is a competitive market and our videos should be able to stand side by side, production wise, with what everyone else is making.

I do agree though, it would be best if we can get back up to at least 3 videos if not 5 videos a week.
Isaac Schulz (Martin Luther College) 2018-11-11 9:52:50pm
Thank you for this further insight into the production of Peace Devotions. I pray that God would continue to bless you and your team with funding, and if He is willing, provide additional funding for more weekly videos, to further the gospel outreach.
Colin Rixe (Martin Luther College ) 2018-10-25 6:13:47pm
Mr. Wells,

I appreciated your idea of a devotions for social media. One thing that you said that I think is really important is, “And finally, the videos have to be short. Under three minutes is a sweet spot for us.” In many cases, when people are on social media they want information quickly. As you were saying, I think longer videos would be ineffective. If videos are short and have a clear message for people they will be much more effective.

When I read over your plan for getting your videos out there I thought that keeping the reach of videos “organic” may prove to not be very productive. I think that your concerns about the videos being too needy are legitimate, but we should still try to get these videos out there. Even something as easy as asking people to tell a friend or family member about a video they have seen could go a long way. Things like this are ways that you can get some free promotion.

After reading your article, I was curious about how long you were planning on continuing this ministry. You said, “we have funding for the next few months, possibly even for the next year, but then what?”. Is this something that you would like to do for a little bit and then pursue something else or if you get the funding is this something you would like to do for a long time? I think if funding were to allow it would be great if you could continue this type of ministry long-term.

Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 8:43:35pm
Colin, you ask some great questions. Thanks for participating.

I am so grateful/thankful the opportunity to work on these devotions. I would love the change to continue this as a long-term ministry. From the start I saw myself doing this for at least a few years, maybe even 5-10 years, Lord willing. My prayer is still that we'd be able to continue these for many years to come.

My talents and expertise lie on the production side of this project, so I'm not currently involved with the grant writing or asking for money. But I trust the Lord will provide (he certainly has already) and that he'll open the right doors when the time is right.

(We definitely appreciate your prayers for continued help and blessings.)
Jim Aderman 2018-10-25 8:03:23pm
Philip, thanks for pulling back the curtain on Peace Devotions. It was interesting to learn how those videos are put together. I appreciated that you began with determining what you wanted to accomplish, with whom, and the parameters within which you would operation (e.g., 2-3 minute videos). Now for a question. How does having a variety of speakers help you meet your ministry goals? Have you considered only using one person to share the devotions?
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 8:51:29pm
Jim, great question. Personally, I think the variety helps, but too much variety can be bad. Asking each pastor to come up with 5-7 devotions every few weeks is a big ask. It takes a fair bit of time to prep even the short devotions we're filming. To do 5/week is too much for a single pastor to volunteer. Having 2-3 pastors helps spread the load while also keeping a consistent set of faces for the audience to get used to seeing. If we're able to pull in guest pastors from time to time I think it helps us from feeling too stale. At least that's my take on it.
Lois Johnson 2018-11-04 9:04:37pm
When someone has shared your videos, I have seen them and enjoyed them. I did not think of liking the page for some reason, I have now! They are very well done. I like the concept of having 2-3 pastors regularly and guest pastors. If you could get up to 5 devotions a week again, perhaps you could target different audiences on different days ot the week. Is there a way to let people know how to contribute on your facebook page that would keep the videos free from that?
Philip Wels 2018-11-06 7:52:52pm
Lois, I think there's still a disconnect between seeing a video and subscribing to the channel that makes the videos. While the words are quite ubiquitous, it seems there's a benefit to having a call to action.

Do you think ending the video with the words "like and subscribe" diminishes the authority or prestige of the content? What's the best way to include a call to action? What should that look like?
Benjamin Hodel (Martin Luther College student ) 2018-10-25 8:53:51pm
Mr. Wels,

The idea of using social media to cast devotions is great, especially since many people use it on a daily basis. The challenge of getting people to watch the whole video is another struggle. “Video viewing on the internet continues to skyrocket, yet many people are watching video on their phones with the sound off.” Hopefully that can change quickly.

While reading the article, it was mentioned that they do not want to end the video with a like or subscribe. At the end of the article, it gives directions on how to Like and Subscribe to the video, seeming contradictory to the beginning of the article. I do like the way you said that they wanted to be different, so maybe focus on being different and not by saying things about the like and subscribe.

After reading your article, I wondered how far will it go. Will it continually grow and become a popular thing? How far do you expect it to grow? You have done so many things already and have grown so much. “We developed a skill for the Amazon Echo so Peace Devotions can be added to a users' daily Flash Briefing. The podcast version also allows iPhone or HomePod owners to ask Siri to "Play Peace Devotions Audio" and have the latest episode begin playing immediately.” You also have things on Youtube and Facebook. That is incredible, but there is many people that still need to hear God’s Word.

Thank you for your contribution to the conference!
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 8:58:10pm
Benjamin, glad you could make it to the conference this year! Thanks for your thoughts and comments.

(Yes, I do end my paper with a "Like and Subscribe" section. Since this paper is academic, rather than devotional, and since many people reading my paper might not be familiar with Peace Devotions, we thought it would be helpful to share links so readers could find our content if they hadn't yet heard about us.)

I too wonder how far it will go. My prayer is that God blesses our ministry to the extent that he sees fit. I would love for Peace Devotions to become extremely popular and be known all over the world, but God may have other plans for us. Either way, I thank God for the opportunity he has given us.
Jewel St.Germaine (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-26 11:02:29am
Mr Wels,
I appreciate your work using social media to grab more people’s attention about God’s word. I especially like your point about people having a short attention span on social media. “.. the videos have to be short. Under three minutes is the sweet spot for us. It's easy to lament the short attention span of people browsing Facebook..” This is a challenge to be able to grab social media users’ attention and keep it for more than thirty seconds. So I applaud your hard work.

While I was reading your article, I am wondering if you could branch out to other pastors for different ideas for your devotions. I think this would be a neat idea since each pastor has their own style of preaching that may hit home to different people. This may help with different ideas for videos each week. I know you said that you have been able to branch out to other pastors, but I mean expanding to Pastors throughout the world eventually.

After reading your article, I am very hopeful in your project. I think it is a marvelous idea, and I can’t wait to see what all comes of it. I also think the more social media platforms you connect with the more people you will reach. Considering how each person has their different preference of social media. I am thankful for your hardwork and dedication to this project. I think the more people can post about this and advertise your brand the better it will become.

Thank you for your hardwork in spreading the Word of God
Philip Wels 2018-10-28 9:01:21pm
Jewel, thank you for coming to my paper and sharing your thoughts and ideas.

I do like the idea of involving more pastors in the devotions. We've done a little bit of this already but I am hopeful we will be able to do much more in the future.
Elena Thoma (Martin Luther College) 2018-10-29 4:11:54pm
Thank you for responding to my comment, Mr. Wels!

I understand that posting the full videos on both Instagram and Snapchat is a challenge because of the video length limits. However, you could post a snippet of the devotion on both social media's stories option and then form it so that the viewer can swipe-up, sending them to youtube where they can watch the full-length devotion. Also, on Instagram, there is a one minute limit, but you can post up to ten one minute videos per post (I hope that makes a bit of sense). You can break up your devotional videos by minutes which would enable you to post the full devotion. All the viewer would have to do is swipe continue to watch.

I also wonder if there is a way that you could do a small introduction post on the WELS facebook page or website. You may have already done this but if not this would introduce your project to individuals in the WELS who otherwise may not know about it. By doing this, it might help you reach a bigger audience and spread this excellent resource.

I do not know if you have already tried these things, however; I know that I have found these devotions to be an excellent resource and blessing and I wish I would have heard about them sooner. I am hoping that by finding more ways to introduce it to individuals in the WELS that it will help the project spread even further.

Thank you again for all of your work with this project for it is such a beautiful blessing to all those you watch these videos!
Philip Wels 2018-10-29 6:39:29pm
Emma, thanks for the reply. It never occurred to me that we could post a partial video as a teaser/trailer for the full one. That's a great idea! I'm going to have to look into making this work.
Brock Aaker (Bethany Lutheran College ) 2018-11-05 7:06:16pm
Hello Mr. Weis,
I really like what you are doing. I myself have a devotion app. So I kind of understand what you are doing. I think you were smart about moving the videos down to about 2-3 minutes without throwing to much information.I think devotions are a great way for believers to keep reading and learning about their faith and non believers getting introduced to the gospel. That's awesome that Bethany is helping you guys out. I like at the end you said that we are good with money for up to a year and the rest we just have to trust God. May God bless you with your outreach.
Philip Wels 2018-11-06 7:48:54pm
Hey Brock, thanks for the kind words. God bless.
Taylor Eve (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-06 10:51:34pm
Mr. Wels,
Giving short peace devotions via video is a great way to spread the gospel. I too watch videos that I see on my social media stream with the sound off. I did not think about it until you brought it up in the discussion. Having the text screen option is a great way for people to watch the videos if they are on the move and such. I also agree that the videos should be kept at the sweet spot of about 3 minutes. Many people watching on social media platforms are usually waiting around just scrolling through. With the videos being short, it is a perfect way to catch attention quickly.

I really appreciate what you are doing by including videos. This is how society today interacts and how communication gets around to others. Everyone always needs daily reminders of Gods love and gospel, and by using the social media platform to do so, many will find light in these. Keep up the great work. I am excited to see where this project will head next.
Philip Wels 2018-11-09 2:30:13pm
Thanks Taylor. While it can be a lot of work to produce video content, I really believe it's important to put Gospel centric content into the medium of the day. For Luther, that was in written word and printed text. Books will always be an important means of communication, but making sure Christian content is available online, in audio, and in video format is also important.

I too am excited to see where this project will head next. :)
Logan Schroeder (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-07 1:44:48pm
Mr. Wels,

I enjoyed reading your presentation on Peace Devotions. Your step-by-step approach was very helpful, and it answered many of my questions for me. I recently began an internship working for a web development company. I've learned a lot in my time there, but it is very overwhelming. Facebook algorithms, content prioritization, and concepts such as Search Engine Optimization has become frequent terminology for me, and I imagine these same topics are ones you keep in mind through your work. This is the future of delivering content to people: relying on sites such as Facebook and Twitter and search engines like Google to display our content in a helpful matter. It's amazing to think about how we obtain our news and information in 2018 compared to how we did it even ten years ago. However, it is refreshing to know that people such as yourself have taken a commitment in making sure the Gospel does get prioritized to necessary and intended audiences rather than getting lost in a huge expanse of informational clutter.

If I may chime in and offer a suggestion: I would say that asking people to "like" or "share" or "subscribe" is not being needy. This is an organization doing the work of the Lord, and those who currently follow Peace Devotions may benefit from these reminders because funding may not always abundant. In the end, this could go a long way in avoiding the direct requests for monetary donations.

This is a wonderful example of "changing with the times." You are doing a great job in including God's Word in the future of online news and information sharing. Thank you for your work, and may God continue to bless all your efforts.
Philip Wels 2018-11-09 2:36:41pm
Logan, thank you.

I think you're right. We should be able to ask for people to "like," "share," or "subscribe" without being needy. It just has to be presented correctly.

Actually, maybe just a reminder to do one of those things would be enough. Maybe every now and then we say "subscribe" or perhaps we just say "if you know someone who needs to hear today's message, we encourage you to share it with them."

To some degree, I really trust that the Lord will grow our subscriber base as he sees fit. It's really the Holy Spirit working faith in the heart and my prayer is always that people who need to hear the message will find or see it. We don't need to have a huge subscriber base to be "successful" at this endeavor. Actually, if this ministry only reaches one lost soul I would count it as a joyful success. But I also believe we have a great opportunity to reach a lot of people and I pray we have the continued ability to do so.
Sam Thoma (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2018-11-07 2:55:31pm
Mr. Wels:

I'm glad to hear about an effort to make the Gospel so easily accessible in this age of instant gratification. With so much of our lives now revolving around social media and phones, an project such as this one is one of the best ways (in my opinion) to promote Gospel outreach. One thing I really like about these devotions that I haven't really seen mentioned in other comments is how you specifically chose to focus mostly on the Gospel message and make sure that remained the predominant focus. Christianity, and particularly Lutheranism, has gained a reputation for being judgmental and/or too harsh towards nonbelievers. Making the conscious decision to focus this series of devotions mostly on the Gospel message is a great way to help chip away at that stigma and barrier many have to listening to anything we have to say.

Another tidbit of info I picked up on was when you mentioned you edit the videos to be square rather than the usual 16x9. Since you indicated that a lot of the viewership comes from and the main target location remains social media, the square videos are a smart choice. I hadn't really thought of it, but almost any time I view a video on any platform other than YouTube, I don't bother to unlock my screen to view the video horizontally.

As for finding continued funding, it's obviously a really tough landscape to navigate. So many creators rely on their audiences for donations and funding that it, as you noted, has become incredibly cliche. I do think there's a potential workaround that could serve as a sort of compromise between the explicit "Like, comment, subscribe, and donate to my Patreon" outro sequence or not making any note of where listeners could donate. Perhaps placing link(s) to a Patreon or similar page could be placed in the video description or as a clickable annotation at the end of the video in an outro sequence without someone verbally assaulting the listener with unwanted reminders to support them. That would still allow for people to donate if they wish while remaining subtle and not turning listeners away by appearing greedy... I don't have personal experience in that capacity so I can't say that it would work with any real certainty, but it could be something to try if you haven't done so already.

Thanks for your contribution to the conference, and I pray the Lord will continue blessing this project!
Philip Wels 2018-11-09 2:48:46pm
Sam, thanks for your feedback. I think you have some good ideas.

This project is still pretty new, just over a year old now, and things still feel a little fluid. I think the hope is that we'll find funding through large grants from private donors and/or from the ELS to cover most of our costs, but I do believe we should have ways for viewers (and audiences) to donate.

If we do end up asking for audience donations, what do you think the best way is to convey information? About it? Do we put it in videos or just in text? Is it a separate post or tagged onto a devotion? Do we make the number (or goal) public or just use percentages?
Laura Strom (Bethany Lutheran College) 2018-11-08 11:34:47pm
Mr. Wels
I think what you guys are doing through the Peace Devotions is a great outreach program and way to share the gospel through media. I, myself, have seen some of these videos Pease has put out and really enjoyed using them as a daily devotion. I think that a lot of the questions and problems that have come up in the program were intelligently solved with the right intention of sharing God’s word. Making the arrangements so that people are able to watch the videos without using the volume is a great way to reach more people and increase your audience. Knowing that the content of each video is also very important because, like mention, this may be the only opportunity that someone hears about Jesus. I pray that God continues to bless this program, and that you are able to evangalize
Philip Wels 2018-11-09 2:49:58pm
Laura, thanks for the prayers, they are appreciated.
Nate Abrahamson (Abiding Shepherd Lutheran Church) 2018-11-10 10:04:36am
Hey Phil, I forgot to ask one other question. How hard was it to create an Alexa skill? Is there anyway to find out if this is being used at all?
Philip Wels 2018-11-12 1:16:24pm
Hey Nate,

Creating a "Flash Briefing" skill is really easy. You basically are directing Amazon to an RSS feed that gets added to the "Briefing" for the user. As for usage, it does not get used very much. Just a handful of unique people have it installed.

I would like to create an actual skill for the Echo, one where you could say "Alexa, Play today's Peace Devotion" or "Play yesterday's Peace Devotion" but I currently don't have the time to dive into that programing. My hope is that once we have full funding I'll be able to devote some time towards making those types of interactions possible.
Nate Abrahamson (Abiding Shepherd Lutheran Church) 2018-11-12 2:59:40pm
Thanks Phil! Yeah, I couldn't imagine it was getting a ton of use at this point which is why I was curious about how difficult it would be. I was curious about whether or not it was worth the time to investigate. Good info. Thanks!