We Can Do Better With Church Videos Online

On Facebook you can see how many views your church videos are getting, but what if your “minutes watched” metric is low? Imagine the impact if more people would watch your entire video!

85% of Facebook Video is watched with the sound off.

51% of marketers use closed captioning most of the time or always.

39% of consumers are more likely to finish videos with subtitles.

What does this mean for your church videos?


Better Church Videos With Subtitles

I always have closed captioning (CC) turned on in my house. My wife likes to joke that I love comics so much that I turn the TV into one big comic panel. But I do have hearing issues so I keep the CC on so I don’t miss a word of dialogue.

Subtitles in your church videos will help your viewers make sure they don’t miss a word either. Over half of video content is viewed on mobile. Subtitles make sure that your viewers are able to keep up with the video when they are listening on tiny phone speakers.

And don’t forget that most people will watch your videos with the sound off. So if you don’t have captions, viewers can’t follow, and you won’t have the views. Subtitles are going to be especially important for your sermon clips.

So let’s get into the 3 ways you can add subtitles to your church videos.


Automatic YouTube Captioning

Upload your video to YouTube, then go into your channel’s Video Manager to edit the Subtitles.

yotuube church videos subtitles screenshot

The auto-generated YouTube file is called English (Automatic). If you don’t see it right away, don’t worry. YouTube can take a few minutes up to a few hours during peak times to generate your subtitles.

Once you do see the automatic subtitles, click on the file to edit it.

youtube automatic subtitles

Click on Edit, then update the subtitles to correct YouTube’s errors. YouTube doesn’t add sentence structure, so you may also want to edit the capitalization and punctuation as well.

When you’re done, click on Save Changes to save the file.

youtube subtitles save changes

If you want to download a copy of the subtitles for your Facebook video as well, click on the Actions button inside the editor and download the .srt file.

youtube save srt

You can then upload this to Facebook’s video editor.

facebook church video upload srt

After you save the captions, you can go back to the CC settings in YouTube and remove the automatic subtitles, leaving only your corrected file.


Automatic Facebook Captioning

Facebook started auto-captioning for ads, but earlier this year they began rolling out the feature to regular videos for pages.

After uploading your video to Facebook, go to the video library and edit the video you want to add captions to.

In the captions tab, you’ll see a button that says “Generate” that will launch the caption editor.

facebook video generate subtitles

Inside the editor, you’ll be able to make changes to correct errors. When you’re done just click “Save to Video” and your video will now have captions!

You can’t save Facebook captions (yet). So if you want captions on both your Facebook and YouTube videos, make sure you start in YouTube where you can save the .SRT file and upload it to Facebook.


Burning Captions Into Your Video

This is also called, “Hardcoding.” This is where the captions are edited into the video so they’re always visible.

There are programs that can burn .SRT files into your video. These are easy to use but you lose the creative options like coloring the words, adding shadows, backgrounds, or even the placement of the words.

So here’s how you can do it by hand to have 100% control over your subtitles.

First, you’ll need a copy of the transcription of your video clip. You can do this by hand or you can pay for a service like Rev or Trint to do it for you.

You can also use the .SRT file from your YouTube auto-caption. Just open the .SRT inside of NotePad (PC) or TextEdit (Mac).  The timecodes will be in the file but just ignore the numbers and focus on the dialogue.

church video subtitle caption

Open up your favorite video editor and load your video. After you’re done editing the video, add your subtitles using your transcription.

Just like you would add a title or a lower third to your videos, add your subtitles one line at a time, editing the text to look good.

In the following example, you can see that the default subtitles wouldn’t be easily visible because the video is so bright. So instead I changed the font to yellow with an outline and shadow.

From there you can just copy that title card and replace the text for the next section of dialogue. Here’s the final result:

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19⠀ Excerpt from guest preacher, Pastor @marcushrdz

A post shared by First Baptist Edinburg Church (@fbetx) on

This method does add time, especially with longer videos. But videos with burned-in subtitles perform significantly higher than without. So whenever able, take the time and hardcode your subtitles into your videos.



We upload our church videos to get more views, so we should do everything we can to get people to watch the whole thing, right?

YouTube and Facebook have made tremendous strides to give us an easy way to add captions to our church’s social media videos. But if you want to take it to the next level, you can add your own subtitles to make sure people will stay engaged with your videos to the end.

Have you tried adding subtitles/captions to your church videos? Which method are you going to try next? Leave a comment below!


  1. I don’t have the option to Generate Captions in Facebook. We did a LIVE this morning, and I was hoping to generate captions on it afterward for the replay. Will it not work that way?

    Do you know if we do LiveStreaming on YouTube can we still capture the captions? Thanks for all these great videos! We are just growing technologically in our church and all of this has been so helpful!

    • Let me check on the FB issue. For YouTube, it will automatically generate captions from a video you upload, so unless there’s something I’m not getting, a live video is just a glorified uploaded video 🙂

      You can edit the video and go then and clean up the captions. It can take time, but generally, if the diction is good and the audio is clean, it will get most of it right.

  2. To my knowledge Facebook doesn’t auto-caption LIVE videos, you’ll have to pull the YouTube captions and upload the SRT to Facebook (the method for this is the same as laid out in this article).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *