Archive for April, 2020

So how can your church maintain worship, connectedness, and ministry in this period of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic? There are a number of high-tech options out there, such as streaming your worship services, but what about smaller churches with fewer resources?

I am a member of one of those churches, Faith United Methodist Church in Fort Wayne. We are worshiping Sundays using ZOOM. ZOOM is a web-based tool that allows folk to connect with one another using their computers or tablets. Someone in the church needs to have a subscription ($14.99 a month), but everyone else can get a ZOOM account at no charge.

The person with the subscription then provides everyone with a special meeting web address (URL) that they put in their web browser at the time of the meeting–e.g. the worship service, Sunday school class, Bible study, Council meeting, etc. Everyone then is able to join the meeting and display a live video stream of themselves to everyone else using their computer or tablet’s built in camera. They also have the option of joining without video using their phone.

So how did this work last Sunday? Our church sent everyone an email explaining that we would worship using ZOOM at our normal time on Sunday morning. They included a web address, which we’ll continue to use for as many Sundays as we have to. Then at 10:15am, people began joining the worship service. We ended up with 31 different households on our screens. Some households had a number of people watching, so we actually were near or normal worship attendance of around 50 people.

It was wonderful being able to see the faces and hear the voices of those I normally see when I’m in our sanctuary. After a time of chit chat and announcements, our worship leader muted our microphones and we began the service. At the appropriate time, our song leader led us in a song accompanied on his guitar from his home, a woman sang a solo a cappella from her living room, another person read scripture and then our pastor preached from her home. We had a period where we were invited to offer our offerings (by mail or electronically) and then sang the doxology. After that we were asked to write down our prayer concerns using a chat tool that’s a part of ZOOM. The person who prayed read each one individually as part of the prayer time. We ended with another song and then received the benediction from our pastor.

Even though we weren’t present physically, it felt as though we truly connected with one another. So if you’re a part of a smaller congregation with not a lot of resources, consider ZOOM-ing your worship service during this pandemic.

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development

P.S. For a list of other low tech ideas that any-sized congregation can use check out ideas from Rev. Susan Arnold from the Holston Conference in her article entitled, “No Tech, Low Tech.”