Using video to communicate youth group news (1 of 2)

Using video to communicate youth group newsThose of you who follow me on Twitter have seen some of the recent episodes of my youth group video announcements. Since I rarely make announcements at youth group meetings, I depend on other means of communication to share news, announcements and other important youth group news. My latest experiment is with video, for a couple of important reasons.

My normal communication is mediocre
The open rate of my youth group emails averages 35% (although, that may be partially due to deliverability). The click-through rate for Facebook messages is about 30%. Text message updates seems to be the most effective means of communication for our youth group, but obviously it is very limited with how much I can write in a single message. We also have bulletin inserts every week with youth group news, which may or may not be working since I have no way of tracking that (except to maybe stop doing it and see how many people still ask for it?). Our youth group website generates an average of 100 visitors per day and is probably our most effective means of communication.

Why try video
But we all know that for teenagers, online video is growing in exponential leaps and bounds, so if they’re not going to take 2 minutes to read an email, maybe they’ll take 10 minutes to watch a video. That’s why I’m now experimenting with youth group video episodes each week. I’ll continue it for another couple weeks while keeping an eye on the video traffic stats and then evaluate it’s effectiveness against all the other ways we already communicate.

Give it value
The success of communicating with teens in general, but especially through these videos, is that I need to give the episodes more value than just news and announcements. That’s why I’ve laid out the format of each episode as follows:

  • Welcome and summary of what’s coming up in the video
  • Announcements and news with L.T.
  • A giveaway of some kind
  • A devotional thought that serves as a preview to next week’s lesson
  • YouTube video of the week

Of course, each episode is available in iTunes as a podcast so teenagers can easily transfer the episodes to their iPods and watch later on the bus, working out in the gym, or whenever they want.

My latest youth group video episodes
Tomorrow I’ll post a tutorial about how I made these videos, but in the meantime, below are the latest episodes from my youth group.

UPDATE: Part 2 of this series is posted and includes instructions on how I created the videos along with links to everything I could think of.

Originally posted at on October 16, 2008.

Originally posted at on October 22, 2008.

Originally posted at on October 28, 2008.

Shawn Michael is also using video for his youth group news. If you want to see an example of what he’s doing, see here.

Posted on October 28, 2008

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  • Thanks for the shout out, man! I link to your articles via Twitter and on youth ministry network sites I run ( and You post great stuff!

  • I’m wondering if you’ve looked into the details behind using others youtube videos in your vids, is it legal?

  • @ Chris S: Ya know, that’s a good question. YouTube itself has it’s own tools and features where you can remix, rehash, and mix other YouTube videos together, thereby disregarding any copyrights, so I’m assuming that the licensing isn’t really that strict if you upload something you legitimately created. Essentially, I’m doing the exact same thing: taking a video and mixing it with other videos and putting it back on YouTube, so my uneducated answer is to say that it’s fine. I Googled it a bit to look for some sort of official word but didn’t find anything particularly helpful.

  • I don’t know the answer either but I just thought of it because I remembered Carlos Whittaker asking people on twitter about the legality of using youtube vids in a church service.

  • Sorry to take this covo to an aside! I love the concept of creating youth min info that can be easily distributed both by leaders and students!

    Anyway, here is the copyright info I found at

    When you create something original, you own the copyright for it. Likewise, when other people create content, they may have a copyright to it. As a creative community, it’s essential that everyone on YouTube respect the copyrights of others. If you’re not sure if something will violate someone’s copyright, the safest thing to do is to create something completely original, with images and audio you’ve created. If it’s all yours you never have to worry about copyright—you own it. If you’ve recorded something from a DVD, videotaped your TV screen, or downloaded a video online, don’t post it unless you have permission.

  • @ Chris S: The spirit behind online video is to share and redistribute content that you like, so I personally feel that using YouTube clips in church, for teaching, and remixing it into youth group announcements is perfectly acceptable. However, just because that’s the nature behind online video doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s legal, kinda like speeding on a long open interstate? I’m not really sure where else to look for a definitive answer on this. For now, I choose to not err on the side of fear. Otherwise, everything we do in ministry could be crippled.

  • @ Chris S: Thanks for that! It looks like YouTube’s Remixer tool has disappeared, too, so not sure what happened there. I think the same rule would apply here as it does for using photography on Flickr: simply ask the person who uploaded it if you can use and redistribute their content. Not once has anyone ever said NO to me. In fact, they all have thanked me for valuing their work enough to want to use it. That simple task for asking permission is probably sufficient.

  • Kim F.

    Thanks for this video example. I’ve been waiting for the tutorial on how you made your videos. Did I miss it?

  • @Kim F.: No, you didn’t miss it yet. I’ll post it next week sometime.

  • I didn’t read this yet…being lazy, but how much time would you say that YOU put into making the weekly video? And do you have any help making them?

  • @Russ Bowlin: Actually, I didn’t say it in this post, but it’s in part 2 next week. The first video took me maybe 8 hours or so just because I had to pull together the intro, figure out what transition clips to use, and kinda prepare a basic timeline. Every video since then, though, takes about 2 hours. It’s just a matter of shooting new video of myself and L.T. and inserting it over last week’s episode.

  • Where do you get the intro stuff for the videos?

  • @joshua: You clearly haven’t read part two yet, have you? :-) That post answers that question and more.

  • These days some parents just are not strict enough, if they were the world would be a better place.

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