Since March 11, 2020, our Children’s Ministry has been 95% virtual/digital. And there are over 100 different videos to prove it. For us, that was WAAAAY more than we had done in the last five years combined! As I poured through the videos, I thought of all the helpful tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way in 2020 and thought they might be helpful to pass on. I am by no means an expert in this field, just a children’s leader trying to become equally effective at the in-person and digital experience in 2021.
Here are 10 things I have learned from March 2020 till today. The first five tips are more practical in nature, while the last five are more philosophical.
#1-Gaf tape is king. If you don’t use Gaf tape, you are missing out! Gaf tapes provides the power of duct tape without leaving sticky residue on surfaces. Whether needing to tape down cables or tape up a makeshift backdrop during your film session, Gaf tape is all the rage!
#2-Cell phone stabilizer-On March 14th, we filmed our first virtual Sunday school video. We only had two days to prep, and the video consisted of going live on our Facebook page using my cell phone in one of our rooms at the church. My poor son had to try and hold the camera steady for 15 minutes while we did our program. He was like Moses trying to hold up his arms in Exodus 17! A week or so later, we were gifted a cell phone stabilizer that included a spot for a light and microphone. I’m quite thankful for this gift! Stabilizer’s make footage shot with your cell phone so much better! For around $65, it is well worth the investment!
#3-Ecamm Live-For $15 a month, we found a software that takes your live streaming up a couple of notches. You can add graphics, sound effects, other videos, you can skype in guests and lots more! You can even see comments coming in live on your video and respond to them in real-time, which is super fun for games and giveaways. Another great component is you don’t have to go live when running this software, you can record it and share it anytime you want. If you go live on a regular basis or thinking about going live, definitely check it out!
#4-Lights-When we first began filming, a lot of it was done in my kitchen. I remember heading off to a home improvement store and grabbing some $15 clamp lights. After locating some diffuser screens I already owned it made some “decent” lighting, especially on cloudy days. Today we’ve invested a little bit of money and pick up a few Led light and stand kits.
#5-Brady Shearer-There are a lot of voices out there with great ideas to help you improve, and one of those I have found helpful is Pro Church Tools and Brady Shearer. His videos are very well done, and bonus, he also provides social media guidance as well! If you haven’t checked him out, it is worth an hour of your time.
My final five tips are pieces of advice that I’ve learned after months of video creation.
#6-Always get better-As I rolled through the 100+ videos we created in 2020, it’s fun to watch the improvements. Sometimes the changes were small, and sometimes they were quite substantial. Start small! What small things can you do to improve the sound, lights, content, delivery, etc.? The small things add up!
#7-Video creating requires planning ahead-To make our videos the best they can be requires time and planning. Content, video flow, props all take more time and planning than what I initially realized. I have more appreciation for video creators than ever before!
#8-Find your style-Don’t try to be someone else in front of the camera; be you. If you are not comfortable in front of the camera, find someone who is. Figure out the purpose of your videos and create a style to them that is uniquely you and speaks to your ministry. Figure out a way to engage your audience. If you try something in a format that doesn’t seem to be connecting, don’t be afraid to change it up!
#9-Share at a consistent time-Don’t make your families guess when your next video is coming. Have a set time and promote it. Then make sure your video can be accessed at other times other than just the “drop time.” Take advantage of one of the biggest positives of digital ministry, that your families can engage at any time, not just the “service time.”
#10-Make your video timeless-Avoid language in your script that may box you in and does not allow your video to be used after the initial drop time. For example, we stopped saying, “Thanks for joining us on this Sunday morning” because we realized some families might not be watching it on Sunday morning, and we wanted everyone to feel connected to the video no matter when they watched it.
In my humble opinion making videos that appeal to youth is probably the most challenging audience out there. We can’t be boring; we can’t just talk for 30 minutes. We need to engage, interact, and connect with our kids and families. Plus, many of us have never really been video creators or editors prior to 2020. We are learning as we go. Don’t give up! As we continue on in our current realities, I continue to see some amazing possibilities to a digital/virtual ministry and the opportunity it has to connect with families who can’t be with us in person for any number of reasons. Good luck on your journey.
Director of Elementary Education
Church of the Resurrection