How can we meet if we’re not allowed to meet?
How can we continue to reach our congregations now that we are strongly advised to avoid social gatherings? What resources are available for broadcasting our services online? Which options are suitable for those who aren’t internet users?
These are unprecedented times and we’re all struggling to cope with the changes. We’ve received many calls and emails asking for help and we’ve therefore put together an article that looks at some of the options that are available to you.
The first thing is not to panic (and don’t panic your church members either). These are difficult times and the last thing we want to do is cause distress and worry for some of our most vulnerable church members. The most important thing is to ensure that every member of the church has support and is contacted regularly – the phone is great for this, or you can even pop to see somebody (you don’t need to enter the house – you can keep the recommended distance by speaking through the window).
We’re also aware of some pastors who have produced written sermons for people and devotional notes (the EMW are starting this on Monday). It may take more time to produce, but they are a way of helping people who may struggle with technology.
There are also numerous resources online that your churches can use until you get set up to do something yourself, or until churches are able to meet again:
- One example is the EMW website (https://www.emw.org.uk/resources/), which has a number of sermons available. These are available to download and we’re happy for you to copy them, therefore if you know people who are unable to get online, why not pop them on a CDs and distribute them to your church members.
- Another example is the numerous churches that are already live streaming. Don’t feel that you have to set up yourself quickly. Why not decide to join another church this Sunday?
What about streaming or recording?
For those who are a little further on in their planning here are four options to help:
- Due to its interactive nature, many churches have found that Zoom works well for prayer meetings.
- Your members don’t require an account to join the meetings.
- It is simple to operate and join the meetings. There are also useful features like screen share, e.g. you could show a PowerPoint too.
- The ‘mute’ button is your friend. For best results during settings such as prayer meetings, it is helpful if those who aren’t speaking have their microphones muted, so that the sound quality is at its clearest
- Zoom has a number of short videos here explaining how to use the software: https://zoom.us/resources
Facebook Live (http://facebook.com)
- Facebook is a useful way of keeping people up to date with the latest arrangements with regards to church activities.
- It is also possible to broadcast events live on Facebook, and this is one way your church members can join your services.
- It is also an easy way for your congregation to share the sermon with their friends, and you might find more people listening in than usual.
- Check the privacy settings on your video before hand – if it isn’t set to public, then people without Facebook accounts won’t be able to view the live video.
- If you haven’t done so already, now is the ideal time to get a Facebook page set up for your church, to host these live videos and connect with your community.
- This link provides some guidance on how to get started: https://learn.g2.com/how-to-go-live-on-facebook
- Live Streaming is also possible with YouTube, and the advantage of Live Streaming over YouTube rather than Facebook is that you don’t need to set up an account in order to watch the video [you don’t for Facebook either, as per above], which also provides anonyminity for those who don’t want to be seen watching.
- Another possibility with YouTube is that you record a service in advance, and then upload it and share the link with your congregation (and beyond!). This is advantageous because it will reduces the amount of technical hitches you could come across.
- If you want to Live Stream using YouTube, you need to make sure your account is verified at least 24 hours before you intend to go live.
- For a useful video guide, click here: https://youtu.be/G654DFyKfl4
- This website allows you to set up a phone number, which when rung, will play an audio file.
- This is a good way to make sermons accessible to the members in your congregation who might not have computers or use of the internet.
- If you already produce weekly Podcasts or MP3 files for your church, this is a good way to share them with people who otherwise wouldn’t find a way to play them.
- There are quite a few steps to getting this set up, but this link will help you with each step: https://www.switchedonnetwork.com/2020/03/18/coronavirus-create-a-phone-number-which-plays-podcasts-or-sermon-recordings-over-the-phone/