Editor's Note: This topic is for offering content suggestions for online Sunday School and at-home Sunday School. It begins with some thoughts from Neil MacQueen, our resident webmaster, teacher, and media wrangler.
Ten Things to Improve Your Online Sunday School Offerings
Churches have been offering a "mixed bag' for Sunday School during the pandemic. Some have posted video clips, some are doing Zoom classes, and some are simply providing printable resources. A lot of what I've seen is too long and poorly led. The pandemic has certainly revealed what we're not good at.
Whatever you do, keep it short and do the SIMPLE things that make for a quality presentation:
- quality fun content
- good lighting, sound, and scenery/props
- mix it up to get people watching again
- follow up with safe, personal contact and pastoral care (yes, for the kids)
- and please get honest feedback so you can get better
I've been creating and teaching with media for nearly three decades, both online and via software, and I've been working with churches nearly as long to improve their online presence, as well as their Sunday Schools through Rotation.org. Hope my advice helps.
Here's some advice for those going online or at-home with their Sunday School materials:
- Assume a shorter attention span. Think 30 minute max for YouTube lessons and Zoom sessions, and 30 minutes max for at-home lesson activities. You do NOT have a "captive" audience. Break up and vary your presentation style and approach WITHIN in each session.
- Mix it up from week to week. Avoid over-using any one medium or approach.
- Assume that you have to sell the reason WHY they should participate and keep up contacts in other ways. Simply posting or hosting doesn't make people participate.
- Use Zoom to present content that is online, such as watching a video together on Zoom. This way you can see who's participating and follow up with discussion.
- If you're thinking of using a publisher's "online" offerings, be careful. I have NOT seen many that hold my attention. Many are "just another talking head" video or too long.
- Avoid making "bump on a log" talking-head messages. This includes those of your boring pastor talking about the importance of a story or delivering a children's message. If you decide to create introductory videos, be energetic and do it with some basic m production values like good sound and lights, backdrops, movement, etc.)
- Get help from people who know good media and tech. This is NO time for you to be figuring out how to edit video. Most churches have members who know how to do technical things, or know people who can help.
- Where possible, get kids in the picture. Kids love seeing themselves on the screen. Use live streaming such as Zoom, or record kids doing the talking, not boring adults.
- Don't waste people's initial wave of interest and intrigue on amateurish offerings. The pandemic should not reinforce people’s opinion that church is a quaint dinosaur.
- RECORD every live session or lesson and make it available 24/7 so other users can use it.