Blackwells' videos stream words of encouragement
It begins with an idea––a spark of creativity nurtured through hours, sometimes days, of contemplation by Michael C. Blackwell, president/CEO of Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH). The incubated idea results in a script, and ultimately a short video. Now a series of videos, “A Good Word” regularly shares Blackwell’s uplifting messages through e-mail and social media.
For the man who still stands behind pulpits, being in front of a microphone and camera is a natural fit. “My time as a journalist, broadcaster and pastor prepared me not only for my position, but for producing ‘A Good Word,’ ” Blackwell explains.
Blackwell, who celebrates his 37th anniversary on July 1, often introduces himself as “Chief Encouragement Officer.” It is not only a fun spin on his official title, but defines the purpose of the video series.
“Every episode is meant to uplift and inspire the viewer––whether it is one of our staff members, supporters, many friends, or someone who is connecting with BCH for the first time,” he says. “Today, encouragement is in short supply. Words of encouragement are something this ministry has plenty of to offer.”
Most videos are no more than three minutes in length, quick but meaningful viewing. He draws inspiration from everything including scripture, songs, conversations with BCH staff members and children, and his childhood.
It’s not uncommon for him to wake up from a sound sleep with an idea swirling in his head. Those thoughts are written on a notepad, dictated on his smartphone, or typed in an email that he sends to himself.
“I never know when inspiration will reveal itself,” he says. “I just know I have to be open to it and prepared at all times.”
Those thoughts become scripts which Blackwell rewrites multiple times until every word is exact. Then, the script is passed to Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications, who is the videographer and editor for the series.
“Dr. Blackwell’s messages are always timely and deeply personal,” Ragsdale says. “It’s important to him that everyone who watches comes away with something meaningful.”
The majority of the videos are filmed in Dr. Blackwell’s office on the Mills Home campus in Thomasville. Ragsdale sets up lighting, video camera, and lavalier microphone to capture each message. Once filming is finished, he edits Dr. Blackwell’s recording, chooses accompanying music, and adds any photos or video needed to complete the piece.
A recent video, that has garnered a great deal of attention, is the BCH mini documentary, “Founded on faith...built on love.” The idea was Dr. Blackwell’s. The script was written by him and he provides the powerful voiceover. Ragsdale added historic Children’s Homes photos and recent video footage to bring Blackwell’s vision to life. The video harkens back to BCH’s beginning in 1885 and, in only three minutes, leads viewers through the ministry’s 135-year history.
“This was a dream project,” Ragsdale explains. “Dr. Blackwell has written something that is beyond a traditional documentary. It is an intentional reminder of God’s provision and presence throughout BCH’s existence. That needed message is particularly meaningful as we all navigate today’s challenging climate.”
Once Ragsdale completes a video, he works with Jacob Riggs, BCH Digital Marketing Specialist, to prepare the episode for BCH’s social media pages as well as email blasts that deliver videos into inboxes.
People can watch “A Good Word” on BCH’s YouTube and Facebook pages or receive the videos by signing up for BCH’s e-newsletters at www.bchfamily.org.
“I am energized by the feedback I receive from people,” Blackwell says. “If someone’s spirit is lifted through a message or if it brings a smile to a person’s face then the mission has been accomplished.”
Article by Blake Ragsdale, BCH Director of Communications