More thoughts from CLAN kidz 2006

July 30, 2006

I’ve just uploaded a sample of photos that I took of the art work that the children did at CLAN kidz recently. Some of them are utterly amazing not so much in the astatically pleasing art forms, choice of colours, composition or medium that may normally be considered when looking at anything called ‘art’ but in the simplicity of the story they tell.

One night a group of P4s (I think) were asked to draw something about God’s Party in Heaven. Someone drew the picture above of an angel taking them to God’s Party.

picture from CLANkidz
Another one that I don’t know the full story to went something like this (and if any of the team lets me know better I will update this). The child did this drawing of God’s house with lots and lots of windows (and for some reason a cellar ?!) when the leader saw it they looked up the passage in John 14 “In my Father’s house are many rooms”. The kid couldn’t remember hearing this story before but said that this was what they were thinking about.

prophetic or just kids?

I suppose it could be argued that these pictures are nice images from a child’s imagination, or they are drawing what they think the leaders want to see. But that’s ignoring the fact that God loves them and talks to them as individuals and wants them to know him. So I would interpret these pictures as God saying to wee Jamie (made up name) “I love you and I’ve got a room for you in my house” or “you’re coming to my party, you’ll have a great time and I’ve sent and angel to look after you” or something like that.

One of the few sessions I actually managed to help out at, the leader told a story (which involved St Columba and the Loch Ness Monster, but that’s for another blog altogether), then asked the children, Primary One’s, to sit still close their eyes and think about a picture they wanted to draw and ask God what he wanted them to draw. Lots had happened that day in my group we got “me as a baby, ’cause God knew me then”, “royal kings and queens” (we had talked about God being king of kings and them all being princes and princesses in his kingdom), “a butterfly” and “King Kong” – So I’m not saying it happens all the time.

What about us adults?!

I wasn’t brought up ‘arty’. In my school days it was considered a ‘gay’ subject to be good at. Also, as the ascetics of art became more important than the content, the idea that we are ‘good at art’ is only if we can make an acurate representation of something. So, I think it is embarrassed out of us as adults that drawing something simple is a bit childish unless it is ‘proper art’.

More recently it is something I have had to come back to mess around with. The more video or filmmaking stuff I do, it often becomes important to sketch out things in order to communicate visual ideas – storyboarding. But because of that hammered in embarrassment of the quality of the drawing we lose the freedom to do a simple stick drawing like those the children do to show something we feel. Instead we try to use words to describe our relationship with God or something that is going on in our lives where a drawing might be a lot more helpful.

Perhaps this is a lesson for me, to just draw in simple ways that aren’t supposed to look accurate the way I see God working. Trouble is none of these drawing will have people with hands – I don’t like drawing hands :- )

Jo ‘n’ Dave’s Wedding – blog 2

July 26, 2006

Lessons Learned

There I was thinking “This is a great shot, Jo and Dave’s first dance and I have all their guests taking photos of them in the background…” It wasn’t till GadgetVicar blogged this that I realised that this also means that I am in the background of all the photos of Jo and Dave’s first dance Doh! me - in the way

Anyway, as ‘revenge’ here is a nice photo of the Vicar who can now be called “Two Puddings McCarthy” ;-)

My photos from the wedding 

Jo ‘n’ Dave’s Wedding – blog 1

July 26, 2006
Jo and Dave got married! It was a fun day and a joy to be part of. They had asked me to do a wedding video for them which was an interesting challenge and as this was the first time I have done this officially although I have edited a couple together from existing footage. The things I was aware of (or worried about) was not missing anything vital and getting good enough quality sound.

Now that I’ve reviewed the tapes I don’t think I missed anything vital, although I was chatting away to the bridesmaids when they arrived at church while the photographer is doing his thing, when Jo shouted over to point out that she is getting out of the car now – a bride who can also direct her own wedding video how’s that for calm? There was also an incident of a bunch of St Silas folk dancing on the lawn outside during the Ceilidh, this would have been nice to catch but I was dancing at the time (if anyone has photos of this, please send me copies).



As for the sound, well so far everything seems OK. I certainly caught the vows and the speeches – despite the sudden unannounced start of the speeches and the relaxed manner that the father of the bride wandered around the room doing his speech… this was a nice relaxed effect but mad scramble for us to keep camera’s on him and get the reactions of Dave and Jo – oh well.

Also to help with sound I bought a shotgun mic with normal and tele features. This did manage to cut down a lot the noise from the camera and gave fairly clear result during the vows. It is powered (AA Battery) which means that you never know –till it is too late- if the battery is dead and it also has an off switch, which on a shoot like a wedding it is important to remember and know where it is set.

Also, in case I missed anything we used three cameras. I got most of the reaction / roving around / moving bits. Ross used a heavy tripod so was more static and shot from the opposite side of church and reception. We also placed a back up cam at the front of church again giving an opposing angle to where I was at the front and static so it should catch everything, for the reception I wasn’t going to use this but found a nice angle looking along the top table so I left it running and should get the odd fill in shot from it. All this means that I now have 10 tapes to get edited down to a wedding video – probably overkill, but better safe than sorry.

Video / Visuals in Children’s Ministry

July 24, 2006

this is a sort of sumary of some of the uses of video that we made at CLAN Kidz 2006

Vox Pops
Our theme was HEART or the Father Heart of God, or how God loves us as Father, or something along those lines.  We planned to have a VoxPop video put together for each morning session asking people what they thought the word for that day meant.  To get something ready we filmed the first one using the team at one of the training sessions.  The rest were done at CLAN using a mobile camera with interviewer and to get people’s attention and make sure people knew that the Kidz team were on site, we mounted a camera to a large fluffy heart (can’t believe that I have no pics of this).

So, 6 voxpops to lead off discussion of ‘Holy’, ‘Eternal’, ‘Abba (daddy) ’, ‘Ruler’, ‘Truth’ and a final sumary one with clips from the others… of course as we were at a Christian conference people kept giving us the ‘right answer’ so ‘Abba’ does actually mean father or daddy to Christians and not the 70s super group!

These seemed to work, but I don’t know how or if you could measure the effectiveness of this sort of element in a program.

Heart Surgery
For the evening sessions where we were looking at ‘Humble’, ‘Enjoy’, ‘Adore’, ‘Respect’, ‘Trust’ we had already filmed a series of sketches with Alistair, Bruce and Andrea playing the parts in a spoof ‘heart surgery’ soap.  This involved a few jokes before the Doctor found and removed from the heart things like ‘Pride’ (opposed to Humble), ‘Distrust’ (opposed to Trust), etc.

Again there was no way of knowing how this would go down with this age group (although we kept laughing at it).  On the first couple of days, they just sat and watched, then turned to hear what would be said next…  by the third or fourth day as the episode started they were singing along with the theme tune, cheering for “Dr Vain” and for some reason booing “Nurse Heart” – who was the only actor from the sketch who was actually there.

Other visual ideas that worked well were

  • Live Camera – sparing use of live camera for games happening up front (how long can you hold a fruit pastel in your mouth without chewing was good because while other things went on I had close ups of the children’s mouths and folk shouted if they were chewing or not).
  • Branding, I had made a series of video titles of the words ‘CLAN kidz’ with different animated fonts so that we could brand and give ownership to the venue.
  • Voxpops needs another mention – the first one was entirely team members
    a) this meant I could film it at one of your preparation meetings,
    b) it helped introduce team members to the children on day one, and
    c) it helped me meet team members and them get used to the idea that I would be very likely to shove a camera in their face (and also for me to find out who really didn’t like that and try to avoid doing it to them).

    Also, while at CLAN we used a large pink fluff heart shape strapped onto a mono-pod with the camera sticking through it to run around and get people’s attention – this combined with our team T-shirts let the general CLAN delegate who might not think anything about children’s work going on see that something was happening and hopefully pray for the children!  It also saved any ‘what is this going to be used for’ moments.

  • Team Wall – I’m not sure about this.  I came up with the idea (more difficult to explain than to see) of having all the team members images in a 5 by 4 table on screen, but instead of still images each would be a video, some being more animated than others – giving a wall of moving and changing images.  It was a little bit of a fiddle to make, but not as hard as I thought and a learning process, but I’m not sure what it added to the venue/events.
  • Story time – for each children’s story we took photos of the picture books, powerpointed them and followed along in the story. Simple but essential to hold attention.
  • Drew’s daddy video – a ‘one off’ video that I will certainly use again and again.  Drew was one of the leaders and was there with his three children, so we spent 15 minutes filming them running to him jumping on him or being swung around as well as hugs, and sitting to read with daddy.  You can’t go wrong with footage like this – lots of slow motion and gradual fades and make it fit to a suitable backing track. Guaranteed tear jerker.
  • Testimony – while doing our best to avoid filming children because of all the legal / permission problems.  I suddenly realized that during our team meetings at the end of the day I should film people’s stories from the day of what God was doing in and through the children.  It remains to be seen what can be done with this footage and it might be good to find a way of feeding it back to the adults session during the week if we do this in future years.
  • Nothing – worth mentioning that when you want the children to listen or focus on one thing, showing nothing i.e. blanking all the screens, helps a lot.  It is difficult for us at the back to keep that in mind when most of the time our focus is on getting things happening on the screens.

Basically, while I know that visuals (video and stills) add a lot to worship and teaching for adults, this is even more the case for children who are more used to lots of things happening around them.  Who respond to visual stimuli that backs up spoken word or experience.

CLAN Kidz 2006

July 23, 2006

CLAN Gathering 15th to 21st July 2006 – an annual Christian conference run by New Wine Scotland in St Andrews. This year, for the first time all primary age children were in one location in a marquee fairly close to the main adult venue.CLAN Main tent

CLAN Kidz (as we called it) was led by Jenny, NaomiCLAN Kidz Leaders and Drew. There was a large team from many churches but I suppose predominantly St Silas and Edinburgh Christian Family Church we also had a lot of help from the YWAM team that came to CLAN to help out wherever needed and we simply wouldn’t have had enough leaders without them and it was great having them around.

As it was a new site this year no one really knew how things were going to work out. Would noise from one place spill over too much to another? Would the children get lost or wander off? What was the power supply going to be like? As it turned out each problem (potential or realised) seemed to be dealt with in time. The CLAN Kidz team had our own ‘main stage’ or ‘Heart Tent’ and group tents/marquees for each primary year group.

Most of my involvement was in our Heart Tent and also a lot of it was prior to actually going to CLAN in getting film clips, etc. together. The theme for CLAN was “Father Heart of God” and we took this directly into the kids work by focusing on a word in each morning and evening session that over the course of the days spelled out HEART:

So the morning sessions focused on ‘Holy’, ‘Eternal’, ‘Abba (daddy) ’, ‘Ruler’, ‘Truth’ and in the evening we had ‘Humble’, ‘Enjoy’, ‘Adore’, ‘Respect’, ‘Trust’.

I think it went really well and we had some great stories coming back about the children from them directly and from some parents as well who came to thank the leaders and pass this on to the team. We know that some children were deeply touched by God and can only pray that this week is not forgotten.


The main reason that I was there was to do visual tech. I’ve worked with Jenny for a long time now and think we have a trust of what each other do. From my point of view this means that I feel I can use my own judgment in what to put on screens when and not always having to follow an exact running order or script if I think God is leading me in a certain direction. This was new in some ways as mainly what we have done together has either been for adults or with a mixed ‘all age’ set up (although both of us also have experience in children’s work). So it was great to bring all this together for once and it worked.


I will leave to a separate entry details of the use of visuals in children’s ministry, and I don’t yet feel able to post much in the way of testimony from or about the children… watch this space.

All photos from CLANkidz that can be shared 

Catching Up

July 23, 2006

I honestly didn’t think I would get into this blogging thing.  However I did miss it a little as I have been away doing things, things that I want to record and not forget and things that have kept me too busy to try to find my way online in places where it wasn’t instantly easy to be online.  But I’m back and I have to catch up as there is a bunch of new things coming along next week as well….

BBC News

July 8, 2006

For a few weeks I have been subscribing to The Editors blog from the BBC, on which various editors of BBC news progams on TV and Radio post articles that might be of interest.

A lot of time recently has been taken up with discussion about whether Newsnight was right to park a car adorned with England Flags in one of the worst areas of Glasgow.
There was also an interesting insight into the decision making process during a mistake in a live program that interupted the broadcast for a few minutes.   And an insigth into what went on during the morning of 7/7/2005 in “That morning in the newsroom
Nick Clark Today there was also this article relating to Nick Clark’s return to work after being diagnosed with a sarcoma, cancer of the soft tissue, loosing a leg and undergoing chemotherapy. I’ve always enjoyed The World at One on Radio 4, but don’t pay much attention to one presenter or the other. However, I heard his audio diary of this process and would recommend it as very moving, honest and open story.