CATALYST BLOG

“I witnessed Fire come down from Heaven!”

The EYEWITNESS BIBLE SERIES consists of 165 New Testament and Old Testament video narratives each with its own free downloadable study guide, script, and additional reference materials.

Eyewitness: Elijah Calls Down Fire

This is the story of an oil and gas executive who led a Sunday School class full of thirty-somethings who didn’t really understand how the stories in the Bible all fit together…so he had them dress up as if they were Paul, David, and Deborah and act as if they were Eyewitnesses to those stories.  

And just like all the stories in The EYEWITNESS BIBLE SERIES, this is a true story.

Phil Smith was a just regular guy helping out at his Oklahoma church every Sunday.  He loved the Word of God but was shocked at how folks in the Sunday School class he was teaching didn’t seem to understand the real-life stories of the Bible. And how they interacted with the other stories, let alone the purpose it served in the bigger story of the Bible. So he convinced adults to act like kids- play dress up and act out the Bible stories they were studying that week. 

It worked.  

Not only did the play-acting increase their understanding of scripture, but word got out and suddenly the little Sunday school class was overflowing and had to add a waitlist.  In fact, his pastor’s wife pulled him aside after they finished the book of Acts and she said, ‘I’ve learned and understood more about these scriptures than all my years in seminary and 40 years in ministry!’

Then someone had an idea.

“What if we got a camera and recorded these for those who can’t attend the class?”

Of course, Phil was happy to do this, but being someone who not only loves the Bible, he respects the value of the Bible stories and the importance of excellence to make it even more valuable to a wider audience.

So he gathered a local couple renowned for their production work (Pivot Films) and he asked them to put together a budget and timeline to produce a video series of the highest quality of production/actors/music/editing for 100-200 Bible stories.  

The price tag wasn’t cheap and it wouldn’t happen overnight.

In fact, it would take 2 years and a few million dollars, but as of January 2021- The complete Eyewitness Bible Series was finished with 165 video narratives each with its own downloadable study guide and additional reference materials.  (Each video also includes the final script- each personally written by Phil, in case any other Sunday School classes would want to get their adults to act like kids again!)

Eyewitness Bible Series - Elijah

How does one monetize such an endeavor?

In Phil’s case, you don’t. 

Setting up the Eyewitness Bible Series as a 501c3, funding out of his own giving along with sermon.net serving as a production and distribution partner, EBS, as it’s known internally, created a website to give everything away for FREE and simply relied on word of mouth.

It’s working.

What can you do with EBS at your church?

  • Download and run it as is in your church service or cut down the videos as sermon openers.
  • Use any part of the videos as a sermon illustration in your service.
  • Share the videos for personal or small group study
  • Use the scripts (and original music) as a small group or Sunday School acting (lots of Youth Pastors have been using this method to better connect with youth and get them involved).
  • Feel free to use in the Online Live Stream services or even share through your website or social media.
  • There’s almost nothing you’re restricted from using the videos with exception of ;
    • Unfortunately, the contracts with the actors don’t allow for the videos to be run on Broadcast TV.
    • No one can use the artwork or videos to sell any products or services–but your church can use it to promote your church or any outreach you’re doing!

As of December 2020, EBS is also available on your YouVersion app and through RightNow Media with more outlets coming! If you’re interested in donating to help create more amazing videos, CLICK here.

sermon.net is a production & distribution partner for the Eyewitness Bible Studies.
All videos, studies, audio, scripts, and other materials are provided free of charge to everyone for the specific purpose of biblical education and literacy.
If these resources have been a blessing to you, any size donation to help offset the future production costs as well as ongoing marketing & outreach, are appreciated.
All gifts are tax-deductible and process through Pure Charity on behalf of semon.net, a digital ministry of Catalyst Missions Group.

Kyle Thompson

As the President at Catalyst Resource Group, Kyle Thompson helps engage an audience of thousands of leaders at churches and other non-profit groups with streaming services and ministry resources. Since 1994, Kyle has worked to bring messages and stories of faith in movies and tv through over 50 feature films and documentaries, including I Can Only Imagine, Breakthrough, Just Mercy, Heaven is for Real, The Passion of The Christ, Fireproof and Hacksaw Ridge.

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