October 7, 2016

​Tools Old and New

A unique outreach ministry uses silent films (remember them?).

Stephen Chavez

The scene opens with a man, dressed fastidiously, patrolling the entrance of a church. A well-dressed couple approach as the man posts a sign on the front door: “No Smoking.” After a brief (silent) exchange, the couple, he smoking a pipe and she smoking a cigarette, walks away indignant.

A sign on screen reads “One Week Later.” The same woman and man approach the man in front of the church, who this time has posted a sign: “No Jewelry.” Again, the couple leaves annoyed.

The next week, after a third unsuccessful attempt to enter the church, the couple sit on a park bench opposite the church. “What do we have to do to get into this place?” they ask a man sitting on the bench.

“I’ve been trying to get into that same church for years now,” says the man on the bench. “They won’t let me in either.”

Each vintage values clip points viewers to a single principle.

I won’t spoil the ending; you can watch it yourself.*

This YouTube video, “Formalities,” is filmed in the black-and-white style of 1920s silent films à la Charlie Chaplain, Buster Keaton, and the Keystone Cops. The series, Vintage Values, is one of the video concepts produced by tedMEDIA, part of the Trans-European Division’s (TED) communication department.

Samuel Neves, now an associate director of communication for the General Conference, was one of the producers of the series, and is one of the handful of actors seen in the brief vignettes (three to four minutes each).

“In general, our attention span has been diminishing over the past few decades,” says Neves. “Each Vintage Values clip points viewers to a single principle, with which they probably already agree.”

A DVD containing the series of 10 Vintage Values is one of the Resources for Life produced by TED communication and is available at ResourcesforLife.eu. They are also available on YouTube and contain titles such as “Have Mercy,” “Priority Seating,” “Gold Digger,” and “Bake a Cake.” Each episode contains a modern moral, along with a Bible text that supports that particular lesson.

“Most of the people who are watching [Vintage Values] use them as a resource in their local communities,” says Neves. “We’ve heard many stories of pastors who [use them to] illustrate biblical lessons or parables.”

Vintage Values is a nod to our diverse society, and the necessity of having in our toolbox tools that are both old and new.

*Vintage Values is now available on ARtv. Search for ARtv on Apple TV, Roku, or Samsung Smart TV. You can also view these videos on the ARtv app, available for Apple and Android; or simply go to the Adventist Review Web site: www.artv.adventistreview.org.

Stephen Chavez is an assistant editor of Adventist Review.