“New Missionary Video Released,” Ensign, Dec. 1992, 67–68
The newest video in a series of Church-produced missionary-related videos has been shown and is now available to members and missionaries alike to use in introducing friends and neighbors to the gospel.
“On the Way Home is a wonderful 32-minute video showing how a young woman’s concern for her friend led to a mighty change in the hearts and lives of her friend and her friend’s family,” explains Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the Seventy, executive director of the Missionary Department.
“We hope members and missionaries will use this latest Church video to help many more people realize that through Jesus Christ our Heavenly Father has provided the plan for families and individuals to find peace and happiness,” he said.
The purpose of each Direct Gospel Message video is to introduce doctrines of the Church that are taught in the first missionary discussion, primarily doctrines relating to Jesus Christ, the purpose of life, and the Restoration.
“After investigators watch these presentations, they are much better prepared to hear the gospel message,” said Elder Porter.
The first Direct Gospel Message video, Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, was actually broadcast on regular television stations in certain geographical areas. During the presentation, short advertisements were shown inviting viewers to call for a free Book of Mormon.
“But what we discovered over time and testing,” explained Elder Porter, “is that it is much more efficient and effective to place those short advertisements in already existing programs.”
But the videos, each one approximately thirty minutes long, were very effective. One survey showed that out of three thousand recently baptized members of the Church, 76 percent had seen one or more of the videos, and 94 percent of those said the videos were “helpful” or “very helpful” in their decision to investigate the Church.
So, while sixty- and ninety-second advertisements produced by the Church continue to run on television, the Missionary Department uses other methods of presenting the Direct Gospel Message videos. Current advertisements invite interested viewers to call in for a copy of the Book of Mormon and a video. “We have discovered many people already have a copy of the Book of Mormon,” Elder Porter explained. “So the video interests those people.”
And in 1990, Direct Gospel Message 5, The Prodigal Son, was shown over the Church satellite system. “We invited stake mission presidencies to organize open house activities in each meetinghouse and encourage members to invite less-active friends and nonmembers to view the video,” says Brother Sherman Crump, managing director of the Missionary Department.
At the open houses, local leaders are encouraged to set up four different self-selected visual teaching stations focusing on Jesus Christ, the purpose of life, eternal families, and the Restoration. At each station, there is more information available, including additional videos, pictures, brochures, etc.
Each of the six Direct Gospel Message videos goes through an extensive production process. After an idea or concept is approved by the Brethren, a script is written. The Missionary Department works with the Church’s Audiovisual Department and Bonneville Communications, a Salt Lake City–based production company.
In addition, each of the six videos has gone through testing, Brother Crump observed. “Our studies show that the largest section of people joining the Church are young adults ages eighteen to thirty-four, both married and unmarried,” he explained. “So we take a scripted video to test groups of this age to see how they respond. They fill out a questionnaire as well as participate in a group discussion.” With that feedback, a final script is written and approved by the Brethren and production begins.
Production time for the videos generally takes a year, although On the Way Home took two years. “We were really looking for something special,” said Brother Crump. “And we think we found it.”
On the Way Home is directed by Academy Award winner Kieth Merrill. The video shows one day in the life of a family. But that day is a special one—it’s the day the family members get baptized. Through flashbacks, viewers see how family members were prepared, through the death of a daughter, for the gospel message. They also see the beginning of significant changes in the family members’ lives.
The six Direct Gospel Message videos produced by the Church are Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, Together Forever, What is Real, Labor of Love, The Prodigal Son, and On the Way Home. They are available for purchase at Church distribution centers.
Another Direct Gospel Message video is already underway, with a tentative October 1993 broadcast date. While the concepts of eternal families, the purpose of life, and the Restoration will be presented in this video, it will focus heavily on the Savior.