When the Covid-19 pandemic began, the StoryMakers team saw a new opportunity to equip parents for spiritual formation by creating videos of our Sunday school materials to be used at home. While we felt the loss of in-person spiritual formation, we knew that new tools to bring spiritual formation into the home could have a big impact. Even before Covid, Barna found that parents have a stronger influence over kids’ spiritual formation than the church. Our goal in creating videos for faith formation is to equip parents to engage their kids, helping the entire family feel comfortable and confident with spiritual formation.
Why Create Videos?
Here are a few reasons to consider creating videos as part of your children’s ministry. Videos are:
- Alternative to Zoom: While Zoom is a wonderful tool, many families and kids are a little zoomed out. Unlike Zoom, videos allow families and kids to engage on their own schedule, when it’s best for them.
- Tool for building habits and rhythms in the home: The way we design videos intentionally builds habits and rhythms for families around spiritual formation. Videos can serve as regular, simple tools for families to learn together, play together, and explore the Gospel.
- A space for socio-emotional questions: Faith formation videos can be a bridge to deeper family discussions. For instance, one of our recent videos discussed fear – what we’re afraid of and how to say “bye-bye, fear.” This opens a window for parents to ask kids what they’re afraid of and have an open discussion about anxiety and fear.
Creating Meaningful Video Content: 6 Tips
When creating videos for faith formation, our priority is to make them meaningful for kids and families. To be meaningful, videos need to engage kids, helping them learn and grow. Here are my tips for making engaging videos that result in a meaningful experience for families.
Limit Stimulation & Simplify
So often, kids materials seem to equate engaging with loud, busy, and eye-catching. But when kids content is packed with stimulation and information, kids are perpetually distracted and don’t walk away having absorbed the lesson. Instead, design your videos with simplicity at the core. Draw kids’ attention throughout the video to one story and theme, and resist packing too much into one video. For many kids formation leaders, this can be a big relief. You don’t need to put on a full studio production to create videos that keep kids engaged!
Create a Structure
Structure weekly videos in segments, mirroring in-person classes as much as possible. A structure will help kids know what to expect and help them form rhythms in their own spiritual lives. Once you’ve picked a structure, move quickly from segment to segment to keep kids engaged. We use a six-part structure in our videos:
- Introduction (with a fun fact, joke, or prompt)
- Visual prompt and Bible verse
- Storytime using our zine script
- Digging deeper with facts and questions
- Recap and prayer
Our structure is based on our zines, so you might pick a different one based on the curriculum and format you use.
Include Elements of Fun & Creativity
The videos should be calm, but they can still be fun! Jokes, imaginative questions, and silly stories are all tools you can use to keep kids engaged.
Show Kids Participating
Including kids in your videos is a great way to keep kids watching, because they have a peer modeling engagement. You may need to get creative with this during social distancing; my kids are featured in almost all of our videos during storytime!
Engage As If You’re In A Classroom
Ask questions and pause for kids to respond. This invites kids to become active participants instead of passive viewers.
Create Flexibility for Families
Make the length of spiritual formation time flexible for families by keeping videos short (10-15 minutes) and including activities kids can do after the video.
Editor’s Note: As always, when choosing a curriculum for your setting, take into account the theology, Biblical interpretation, context, materials, and representation. Read more about choosing a curriculum at Choosing a New Curriculum: Read this First.