The Importance of Collaboration and Co-Creation
In a follow-up article, Fuller Youth Institute asked two questions:
- Why is co-creating media “the core of authenticity” for young people?
- What are some ways that leaders can use collaborative media projects?
Let’s start with the importance of having youth co-create media.
Many young people want to do more than just watch media. They want to interact with media. They want to produce their own content. Teens use things they enjoy as a jumping-off point from which they create and share media like fan-fiction, music videos, animated .gif memes, and so on.
Teens in a youth group or, really, any group often are more eager to talk about their groups than about their own personal beliefs. Many teens also are more comfortable with showing, rather than telling, adults what their groups are like.
Many teens also like the process of creating something with a group of teens. “Creative” meetings often include fascinating conversations among teens as they wrestle with why something is meaningful and how to present it to an audience. Media-making projects in a youth group or other church setting encourage young people to think about their relationship with the church, and experiences with youth group, as part of their own individual identities. Youth and youth leaders can discuss sharing a collective identity—which is an important part of what church is all about.
How should a church co-create with youth? Here are some ideas:
- Encourage or challenge groups of youth to tell a story that they share.
- Produce fun promotional videos for upcoming youth group events and projects (for youth to invite their friends) and for church-wide events and projects.
- Teach classes for older members on how to stay connected using digital technology and social media—including things like sharing photos, video chats, a Facebook “How To,” and explaining some of the most popular apps.
- Co-create a series of audio or video podcasts in which pastors answer young peoples’ questions about Christianity.
- Collaborate on presentations for holidays and church anniversaries in which young people interview older members about their experiences, and assist with digitally preserving archival materials like old bulletins, photos, and so on.
- Curate multimedia content such as videos, graphics, and playlists to accompany other content like sermons, lessons, and devotionals.
- Generate ideas for new ways to share prayer requests digitally.
One other thing to which the article alludes is that some youth, after they are involved in producing videos, will “rise to the top” in terms of talents and passion in the area of video production. When that happens, it is very important for the church to give those teens further opportunities to explore their giftedness. One approach is to give the talented youth a leadership role in promoting church events on social media, including raising awareness (and funds) for service projects and missions.
Here are some other ideas for youth-created videos:
- Showcase the talents of some of the youth, including:
- Video-related talents such as script-writing, acting, directing, and editing
- Other talents, such as performing music
- Have a contest where groups of youth compete with each other for fabulous prizes or just for bragging rights, until the next contest
- Present opinions and start discussions on just about any topic, including deep subjects such as what Christians believe and some of the challenges of being a Christian as a teen
Tapping into Gifts and Passions
Some youth are especially gifted and talented in the area of video production. Some of them may know it already, but others discover their gifts and talents because they have been able to produce videos as a part of youth group meetings and events or in other areas of church life. The more your church encourages youth to express themselves through video, the more the gifted youth will discover those gifts and, most importantly, the more those youth will want to use their gifts for the Kingdom.
In 2014, the website TakeLessons.com, which strives to help students find their passion, announced its first scholarship competition. To compete, a student had to submit a response to this question: If you could earn a living doing what you love most, what would it be, and how would it change the world? Describe the specific goals you would set to make that dream a reality.
Here is the short essay that Nicole from Hastings, Michigan wrote in response:
I love Jesus Christ most in my life. I love studying Him and His word, sitting down for a cup of coffee with someone to talk about Jesus. I love singing to Him, and talking to Him.
I already know preaching is not my calling. However, I do have a gift with technology, specifically video production. My favorite video projects are for the church, either the youth group or the main service.
I would love to produce videos about Jesus. A big, distant dream for me is to travel the world and make videos for an organization such as World Vision or Compassion International. Maybe someday God will call me to that line of work.
For now, I am still doing what I love by living with and for Jesus, talking about Him with others and helping them grow in Christ, and producing videos for the church. Each video I have made for the church has helped at least one person come closer to Jesus, or at least raise some questions and/or encouragement.
All I want to do is point people to Jesus. I can do that from behind the scenes but still capture their attention with the message of Christ. If I can never make money using my gift of video production, I will still be serving the church by producing videos in my free time because that is what I love. I love it too much to let the lack of financial compensation get in the way.