With a little creativity, and low-fi technology solutions, you can reach your technology averse and bandwidth starved congregants.
There are a variety of reasons that live-streaming your worship service just isn’t going to work. You may live in an area where hi-speed internet is woefully inadequate. Perhaps your congregants don’t have access to the hardware needed to join your live-stream Zoom service. And then there are those that have not, and probably will not, join the technology available in the 21st century.
Beyond church services, how are you connecting with your community? Virtual coffee hour only works if you can hop on Zoom. Prayer requests coming in through your website? Only if you can access the internet. Same goes for online tithes and offerings. Is it possible that incorporating some analog solutions might round out your distance ministry? YES!
Whatever the case may be, Worship Times understands how hard it can be to reach everyone with just one solution. Below are some creative, low-fi ideas that might help your community connect during isolation.
Call-a-Friend Zoom Worship
So you have live-streaming worship down pat. Everyone is rolling in with pj’s on and coffee in hand. Except, some of the usual faces aren’t appearing, or calling in. You might need to look into Call-A-Friend Zoom Worship.
Now, this isn’t an add-on offer from Zoom. It isn’t fancy new technology. Essentially, you are creating Digital Deacons. Just like the folks who, in the past, would pick up and drive your driving averse members to church on Sunday morning. Your Digital Deacons will “Pick Up” the phone and call their set person or people to bring them to virtual church.
Using two or three-way calls (check with your carrier to see how many lines you can add to a call), your Digital Deacon calls the Zoom call-in number, and adds another call to whoever needs “the ride” to church. The Digital Deacon does all the heavy lifting and your congregants get a free ride to your live-stream church. All they have to do is answer the phone.
Drive in Church
If you live in a place where hi-speed internet is just not a thing that exists, this may be a great option for your community. Drive in Church does take a little bit of a technology backstep. Essentially, you set up a short-wave radio station, and have everyone stay in their cars in the church parking lot. The pastor can preach from the front steps.
However, it is essential that everyone stay in their cars and no one comes in a convertible. Also, check with your local shelter-in-place orders to make sure this type of gathering would be in compliance.
Analog Connections in a Digital World
Bring Back the Phone Tree
Staying in touch via telephone is the safest way for everyone. Put out a call for those who want to be responsible for reaching out to specific congregants every week. Maybe challenge your congregation to reach out to whoever they normally sit by at church. Encourage everyone to reach out to everyone. We need each other so very much right now. Show your community you care. Give them a call.
What better way to show someone you are thinking about them, than with a hand-written card? There are those in your congregation who will appreciate this gesture more than you can know. Perhaps you might produce a hard copy of the church newsletter that you could send out as a way to keep your congregants informed. You can also send out prayer request cards, tithes and offering envelopes, and include the stamps to be extra helpful.
Studies have shown that the virus can survive on paper for around 24 hours. However, the CDC says we are still learning how exactly the virus spreads and that there have been no reports of transmission through the mail. If you decide to send out paper newsletters or hand-written notes, there are certain precautions you are going to want to take to prevent transmission of Covid-19.
- Wash your hands.
- Wear gloves.
- Do not touch your face.
- Clean the surface you will be using to prep and send correspondence.
- Print your newsletter or write your letter and package quickly.
Isolation Ministry Team
During this time of isolation, you may want to consider setting up an Isolation Ministry Team. It may seem counterintuitive to use your website to reach your technology averse and bandwidth starved community, but it is the easiest and safest way to get and stay organized. All you have to know is how to create a password protected page.
Ministry Team Web Page Set Up
Go into the back-end of your website and create a new page. In the right side-bar at the top you will see a box with Publish written at the top. In this section, choose Visibility and select the Password Protected option and type in the password you want your team to use. This password will be shared with your deacons, prayer team, ministry outreach team, or whomever is going to be doing your isolation care ministry.
One thing to note as you set up your page is that you do not want to post any PDFs with private information on this page. The password protects people from finding this page, but Google and other web-crawlers will catalog and display all PDFs in searches.
On this page you will want to include:
- Directions on how to use the information on the page and keep track of contact points. (Allow comments to be posted for tracking purposes.)
- Contact information for isolated congregants.
(Use your Worship Times Staff plugin or your online church directory.)
- Which team member is responsible for contacting which congregant.
- Prayer, Phone call, and/or Church “Pick Up” requests
(Set up a Form using Post Fields to take requests that automatically publish on the team page.)
Worship Times members who need help with setting up a Isolation Ministry Team page can put a request in through support. If you are not on the Worship Times network, but need some help setting a page up, claim your time with our founder, Michael Gyura, today. Worship Times is so committed to your ministry, that Michael has opened up time on his calendar to help your ministry in this time. This is open to anyone, whether or not you are on the Worship Times network. Schedule your free 30 minute website consultation with Michael to talk about homepage optimization, walk through your website, or answer any questions.