I recently finished reading Audio, Video, and Media in the Ministry by Clarence Floyd Richmond. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had some serious concerns about Dr. Richmond's assumptions when I started digging into the book. Those original concerns were quickly overshadowed as I discovered some of the more immediate problems with this book. I want to start out this review by saying that I would not recommend this book for anyone. I will spend a little bit of time running through my list of grievances with this book, but if you take anything away from this review go and buy a different book. Because this book will most certainly not serve your needs.
Here are my problems with the book as a whole:
Scope of Topic - This book is 129 pages and in that short time Dr. Richmond tries to cover Sound Reinforcement, Projection, Lighting, Audio Recording, Video Recording, Broadcasting, Web Pages, and Networks. Anyone who knows anything about any of these topics knows that someone would be hard pressed to write a meaningful book about any of these topics in 129 pages, not to mention trying to cover them all in that short span.
Organization - It appears that there is no real organizational scheme to Dr. Richmond's writing. He jumps from topic to topic and at some points seems to jump back and forth.
Inaccuracies - Perhaps the most frustrating thing for me in reading this book was the inaccuracies and facts that are simply wrong. Even in the chapter on sound reinforcement (which is Dr. Richmond's area of expertise) there are a couple of facts he throws out that are simply wrong.
Assumptions - Dr. Richmond presents the context he is most familiar with as the assumed context for all churches. It is clear that Dr. Richmond is used to dealing with large churches that have several staff members, lots of volunteers, and plenty of money to throw at these issues. I would suggest that a lot of the things that Dr. Richmond presents as gospel truth would not work as described in most (if not all) of the church contexts I have ever dealt with.
Level of Detail - While the length of this book and the breadth of its subject matter suggest that it should be a broad overview of the topics, Dr. Richmond goes into a substantial amount of detail on some things while completely glossing over other topics. The seemingly random way that he switches back and forth in level of detail makes this book inadequate both as a general overview of these subjects and a technical manual on how to pull off any of the subjects mentioned.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a the mechanics of how to do the subjects described I would look for a book specifically on that subject. If you are looking for resources on a philosophy for building these ministries you are pretty much out of luck. I have not found any good books that cover the philosophical, liturgical, and theological concerns that go along with building these ministries. I hope one day to write that book myself. For the moment, I will be covering these sorts of topics on this blog. Please feel free to contact me if there is a specific topic you would like for me to cover.