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So I started asking leaders to make short recordings; from hello's greetings to mini devotional-styled messages, to sharing favorite Bible verses, to goofy challenges. I can then take the videos and shape them into a program that we then run on Tuesday nights. Up to three weeks ago, I was still using OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) to run our live stream over Facebook. It was super easy to compile the videos and run a live program. However, I started running into some issues while streaming everything live.
1. Our internet connect was growing more and more unstable. I'm not sure why, but the more we attempted to stream live, the more unreliable the stream became. While the audio seems to be okay, the video image kept freezing.
2. Because I was focused on "directing" the live stream, I was missing out on the engagement taking place in the comments. Thankfully, my leaders did a great job connecting with students.
3. It was incredibly stressful to run a live stream, knowing anything could bring the stream to a stand still. Bad connection, buffering, glitches, a mistake on my part, hitting the End Stream button by mistake (yes, that almost happened twice), to total internet failure (which also happen).
As I considered the pros and cons of continuing with the live stream, I found the cons outweighing the pros, so I made the jump to YouTube. I started a channel for our student ministry, and got to work planning how it would look. I also decided that we we're going to make the call and go pre-recorded. Yes, this decision comes with more pros and cons, however, I found that I could still include my leaders while opening the door to allow me to have a bit more engagement with students in the comments. It also reduced the stress and worries associated with a live stream. Once the video was uploaded, I didn't have to worry about connections, buffering, screen-freeze, glitches, or total meltdown. I did, however, have to deal with the upload time. (It can take up to 3 and a half to 4 hours to upload a 45 minute video.)
But on the pros side, we could be even more creative. As you will see in this weeks video, we kicked off the night with a Full House theme parody. It was super full, and we got a huge response because of it!
Over the last 9 weeks, we noticed that we were seeing less and less participation from our students. To help boost engagement and to encourage parents to get involved, we hosted a Family Night, which included a game that required family participation, a time for families to worship together, and an opportunity for families to send pictures of themselves watching or playing the game.
It was a great night, and the initial feedback has been great. We're still learning, making adjustments, and developing our online presence. Not sure of when we will actually be able to get together in person, we're still trying to improve how we connect with our students online.
But here's a run down of Tuesday night's C3Students Online, Family Night!
Date: Tuesday, May 12th, 2020
Theme for the Night: Family Night
Series Title: No Series
Message Title: Trials Lead to Perseverance.
- I created an intro with slides featuring funny, awkward family photos found online.
- Full House Theme Parody Video featuring the Leadership Team.
- Short update on our status as a student ministry and possible reopening plans.
- Our church staff played a Zoom game I created called, Where Am I? (https://youtu.be/WbxJo9FYxiE)
- Family Sitcom Switch Up. I created a game featuring popular family sitcoms from the 80's and 90's. The families had to look at a scrambled slide and try to figure out the tv sitcom. You can download and use the game for free by click here. To encourage participation and engagement, we gave away a gift card for dinner at a local restaurant.
- Our Student Worship Leader led us in two worship songs...
- Open Up the Heavens
- Build My Life
- James 1:2-3, & 12 NIV
- Trials Lead to Perseverance.
Jay Higham is a veteran youth worker of over 28 years; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently serving as the director of family ministry at a church, located in West Virginia. Jay has been married to Amy for over 23 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 girl). Jay is an aspiring author, blogger, speaker, vlogger, and social media junkie. He is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and training youth workers to love and serve their students with passion and excellence.