COVID-19 Connection Tools for Ministry
Dealt with any change the last week or so? I imagine the list to answer that could be quite long. I have found it is often hard to redefine normal when we don't know just how long it needs to be the new normal. Regardless of the length of time, it is a common thread that we are all dealing with reduced gathering size and huge changes. I am sure you are looking for ways to create connections and continued community. Below are a handful of platforms/resources that may help you as you continue to lead your students:
Our team has used Zoom for years with its seamless connection for one-on-one meetings or larger team and group gatherings. They offer different monthly packages that allow the user with various options, including recordings of the content. With the recent changes to life because of COVID-19, some of my kids have actually been able to connect with their music teachers through this platform as they continue various lessons.
Facebook may not be a platform that a good bit of your students are on. However, with the recent changes and adapting students have been forced to make, it is an easy option to create a connection using Facebook Live. Simply go live, and supply the link to your students to join in and contribute. It takes little know-how and time, but Facebook Live is a fairly straight forward resource and you will be up and going in no time at all.
Now Instagram (unlike Facebook) is probably something with which your students are a bit more familiar. Instagram lets the user share live video with their followers in real-time. this functionality is even easier than Facebook Live. All you do to go live is open the app on your phone, swipe to the left, and tap "LIVE" on the bottom of the screen. This is one of the platforms that many churches have already been connecting with their students on. Take this as a chance to expand your thinking of how to use this during the days ahead!
The "Church Online Platform" Resource
This is a free resource that is about helping the "capital C" Church connect with its people. It can allow you to provide streaming services, youth group connections, small group gatherings, and other help as you continue to build community. Click here to see their website and to learn more.
"Living As One" Streaming Services
The "Living As One" streaming service helps multi-site churches or various points of broadcast with reliable ultra-HD video online. It gives both live and play-back options for your people to engage with during or after your stream. Click here to see their website and to learn more.
"Portable Church Industries"PCI gives useful information on their site about how to live stream your services with a fairly simple start-up process through the already mentioned Living As One platform. Click here to see their website and to learn more.
Free Online Church from Outreach
Since March 20th, Outreach has had what they market as a simple solution for a church or leader to stream a service online. Their features also include delivery of notes, chats, and Bible interaction. Click here to see their website and to learn more.
If you are a G-suite user with Google, they are also making their professional Google Hangouts platform free until July 1st. This platform will let you connect with up to 250 at a time. This is similar to Zoom in a large number of its main functionalities, but with the interface that you've come to know and love from Google.
This platform can be a bit more limiting, but it does support up to 32 for video chats once you put in their email address or phone numbers. It is a fairly straightforward platform to use. However, those of your students who do not use iPhones or Apple products will be excluded.
For those of you who remember, you may have been around long enough to know that Skype was the "go-to" option for international calls and connections. It can still be a viable platform to use supporting up to 50 on a video call. Skype is limited in some of its functionalities when compared to Zoom or Google Hangouts, but would likely work well for smaller groups or someone with a limited budget.
While it is not my favorite platform for numerous reasons (all of which will be left out of this recommendation), if you have 16 or less on a video call, you can use this platform that is probably on a good bit (or all) of your students' phones already. Understand that this will put students on Snapchat which can be questionable in some of its content at times.
I know many other tools for connection might be or may have already been, of great benefit to you. If you have any others, let me know! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A couple of encouragements for you to close out this article:
- I imagine you have a teenager in your group that loves stuff like this and can likely help you out. This could be a great opportunity to engage them for help and give them extra responsibility.
- Now is a time where you may want to connect with other youth pastors and hear what is (and what is NOT) working for them. You can interact with a lot of them on our Youth Pastors Only platform. You can request to join today!
- Regardless of what you do and how long we have to adjust from our "normal" ministry models, we want to encourage you that what you do matters. Your voice in the life of a young person is huge! We encourage you to continue to find ways to be highly connecting in these days as you help your students grow their faith.