One of the greatest joys about ministry is when we can capture those little moments of a service project, a vacation Bible school, a mission’s trip, the fall festival, a special worship experience, a sermon illustration, or small groups on photographs and video. There is nothing more compelling to tell the story of your church’s history than a few well snapped photos or a great video to share the experience. If your ministry is doing it right, you will capitalize on this and use it for great marketing. The question is, do you have the right to use these photographs.
We Want to Protect Them
A church has multiple reasons to want to ensure the legal use of photographs and videos. First and foremost, you need to ensure that you protect the congregation and visitors. Families may not want to post any kind of photos online, in newspaper, or marketing use because they do not want others to know they are here. Sounds weird? Maybe the family is going through a negative divorce. It could be that they have serious self-image issues. Whatever the reason, you need to honor their request and should have it in writing beforehand.
We Want To Protect Ourselves
Too many pastors and church leaders jump headlong into something without thinking about the consequences. If you post a photo on Facebook of a teenager without a parent’s permission, you open yourself up to getting into trouble. There is no law that says you can simply promote your church with their picture. As with any business, you need to understand that you are marketing when you post something online or in public and you need their approval.
How To Use The Form
Set up a time every year at the beginning of the year where you gather the parents of teens in your youth group, a packet of forms for people to sign up for VBS, or require volunteers to fill this out when they do the background check too. Have the person fill out the whole form for their entire family, even if it is just a mother that is signing up to join a MOPS group. The more consistency you can have with this process across all the different activities, the better chances of not missing someone and getting caught without protecting them or yourself.
So for those of you that do not have a release of information form that would include a married couples’ anniversary and birth dates to send cards or celebrate on Sunday morning as well as a release to use their photos whenever taken, we have one made up for you. Put your logo, street address, and website on there and you are ready to get started.
Release of Information Form – WORD (33kB)