Probably a bunch of you beat me using this means. I was taught rhetoric without videos – mainly for homilies and meditations, and for a long time carried that over into my talks. I saw a few use short videos in their talks – some were good, some were dismal: distracting, excuses for poor speakers, moderately inappropriate in their content, etc.
This Lent I preached the same basic retreat 3 times to different groups in varied formats. I decided to try adding a few short YouTube videos into the mix.
The toughest part is finding the right ones. The obvious ones many of us like such as Fr Robert Barron or some talking head are “boring” to junior high students. (I thought Fr Robert Barron would be good but a friend said he’d tried twice unsuccessfully.) That takes out most explicitly Catholic videos. They need to engage but actually transmit the message. I couldn’t just play random WWE or monster truck videos for the all-boys group.
I choose my theme and made an outline of my talks before looking for YouTube videos. I want them to compliment my talk not turn my talk into an intro for YouTube videos. If a video was great but doesn’t match, I’ll save it for later. I have searched YouTube before for cool videos for teens without something specific in mind and I wasted a lot more time. I’m not saying that’s a bad hobby but we have to identify it as such and not call it ministry.
What did I do for this retreat? The theme was “Called to JOY” and three basic themes were: the happiness and beauty of being with Jesus (heaven and here), we need to suffer to reach true happiness (the meaning behind Lenten sacrifices), and we need to spread Jesus’ happiness (service / apostolate). About half the videos I’d seen before. For the happiness of being with Jesus I had three videos: one German video of people dancing in the streets was perfect for showing human happiness in 1 minute to begin with; I used two videos to describe heaven: one of a four-year old with cancer and a love song about how they’d be together in heaven. For the meaning behind Lenten sacrifices, I grabbed Andrew Johnson’s first performance on Britain’s Got Talent – he’s a 13 year old who was teased for 7 years but blows the crowd away with his voice. For bringing Jesus’ happiness to others, I began with “Som Sabadell” which is a bank which organized a flashmob where an orchestra began playing in the town square, then the music video “Hands” by The Almost which shows people using their hands in so many ways, and finally a video of people who are suffering with a voiceover of Jesus helped the X and the Y. (I used KeepVid to download these before my presentation and forgot to save exact links.)
So how did it go? Good but not fantastic. On 2 of the 3 times, I felt like there was a real connection with the teens. Adding the different senses as videos do, helps learning. I think the videos themselves are great but kept me from doing more discussions or more games so the teens remained passive. I know what I need to work on for next time. Videos can illustrate a point or take part of my talking but they shouldn’t eliminate dialogue or activities. The more our formation is an experience, the more teens will remember.