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Kidsplace Unscripted 2010

This is a followup to a post I did back in August of 2009 // Creative Volunteer Training

Two things about me as a Children’s Pastor:

  1. I hate meetings.
  2. I hate meetings.

A few years ago, I read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni and his book has helped me work to make meetings more beneficial with my staff (at least in my humble opinion.)   I have however continued to struggle with how to communicate with volunteers in an effective way.

How do I train them?

How can I communicate best practices?

How do I let them know about changes in the curriculum?

But most importantly, how do I do these things without calling meetings for every weekend or every month?

My solution has been something I call “Kidsplace Unscripted”   The unscripted videos are my way of communicating values to my volunteer team in a non-confrontational, non pizza eating after church way.   I film these videos every two or three weeks using my Macbook, iMovie and uploading them to Vimeo.   I have had issues with Vimeo, but since they now offer mobile viewing on iPhones I’m back on board with their video greatness.

So after a year of doing these video’s what new and what have I changed?

  • I had about a 30% open rate in emails and newsletters. When I started sending videos, it jumped to about 50%, and now I have an open and click rate has jumped to about 80%.
  • I have too many leaders to personally meet with them all each week, and I’ve seen these videos help with my ability to keep in touch somewhat with everyone.   It’s gonna sound crazy, but people feel like they know my heart and passions without even meeting me.
  • I’ve now added a different video series just for my Preschool and Kindergarten leaders.   They were asking for it, when word got around about the Elementary videos.   I obliged, and tweaked the content to fit that demographic.
  • In 2010, I’m tackling best practices in each area.   I’m defining a best practice as those things that we do each and every week with no exception.   They are the same whether doing large group storytelling, or leading a group of 2nd grade girls in a small group.   So far so good in 2010.

Here are my most recent videos for both Preschool/Kindergarten and Elementary.

Kidsplace Unscripted #12 from Jonathan Cliff on Vimeo.

Preschool Unscripted #5 from Jonathan Cliff on Vimeo.

There is a Vimeo shortcut to my videos on the right side of this blog, just click the tiny V.   You can also visit my Vimeo page directly at www.vimeo.com/jonathancliff and even subscribe to my new videos at http://vimeo.com/jonathancliff/videos/rss.

For the record:   I do still have meetings from time to time, but the Unscripted videos have allowed me to be much more intentional about when we do need to have in-person meetings with volunteers and those on my ministry team.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Emily · February 18, 2010

    I love this idea! I definitely want to do something like this with our volunteers – I can see it reducing frustration for me and our volunteers with trying to schedule meetings. I am a new macbook pro user – what do you use to record the video? I’ve used imovie to make them, but wasn’t sure what to use to record.

  2. Rebekah · February 18, 2010

    We’ve just started doing this with our Elementary leaders to show them the hand motions for the month’s Bible verse and songs and it’s worked fairly well! (We’re in an area that is trying desperately to be urban, but not there technologically, so it is a stretch for some of our volunteers to watch something online!)
    I wanted to ask a couple of questions:
    do you password protect any of the Vimeos you send out?
    do you think there is a certain amount of time for a video that is too long? (just noticed you were marking the time on yours…)

  3. Staci Inskeep · February 18, 2010

    What a great idea, Jonathan! I’ve been reading your blogs for the past year or so and have enjoyed them! Thanks for this idea — as I’m not a meeting person either. I think this is a great use of time for volunteers and even though I’m not a huge video person either, I think this will work, or at least it should work, for CapCity Kidz!
    Thanks again!

  4. jonathan · February 19, 2010

    Emily- I use iMovie to make the movies, it has a option to record video directly from the webcam. I then export the video into a High Quality video file, that I then upload to http://www.vimeo.com.

    Rebekah- I’ve learned that the shorter the video, the more people will watch it. I also do NOT restrict the video’s with a password. I might if the material was sensitive, but at the current time it isn’t. Feel free to watch them all!

    Staci- The video thing has really worked for me. The challenge for me is in being ready for the Next big thing!

  5. Jeremy Imler · February 19, 2010

    So cool to keep in front of your leaders and keep the vision you have in front of them. I’ve been dealing with the frustration of trying to get in front of our kids pastor for months to help support his vision to the fullest. It’s so important to get others to ‘catch’ YOUR vision for the ministry.

    Keep the vision going………’to teach others, to do the work of the ministry’!

    Great job