As you know, we are shifting our approach to ministry to online church in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping the nation and the world. The goal of this is to stay connected and engaged to the body of Christ while we can’t physically be with each other at the moment.
After looking into several different options, we’ve decided the best and most efficient tool to be able to do this is a program called Zoom. Zoom is a video conferencing tool that businesses have used for some time now. Churches have also started using Zoom to meet because of the reliability and feature set. While Zoom uses an encrypted service, so your conversations are safe, they also provide the ability to record, share screens, chat, and do “breakout” rooms.
Here are the steps needed to get up and running with Zoom:
Step 1: Create an account at http://zoom.us
You will see different plans as you are creating your account. Most, if not all of you, will need a Pro account to be able to host your respective ministry meetings.
Step 2: Download the Zoom software to your computer, phone, and tablet
As the host, you’ll need a working web camera. Many computers come standard with a webcam but let me know if you don’t have one and we’ll figure out a solution. Once you have the software on your machines, login to the platform using the username/password you created during the sign-up process.
Step 3: Schedule a Meeting
First, visit the settings area for your meetings. To get there, go to the Zoom website, look to the left of your screen and find the field titled “Settings” below the heading “Personal.” Once you’ve navigated to the settings area, you’ll be able to set defaults for your meetings. I recommend turning the video on for you and others, allowing people to join before the host (you), and turning on “breakout” rooms.
Using the software on your devices, you can schedule a meeting in an instant or in advance. Since you’ve already configured your settings, these should be the default when you’re planning a new session. (While you can schedule using the software, I suggest going to the website to schedule meetings. Doing your scheduling on the website will also provide you with more options for your meetings)
Step 4: Invite people to your meeting
You can now send invites to your meetings. You’ll be able to copy the link, send an email, or a text message.
Step 5: Run your meeting
Here are some guidelines that might help your meeting run smoothly:
1. When the meeting starts, talk about how important it is to see each other since you’re in a digital setting. Having the cameras on will help build community. While some people may not turn on their webcam, talking about it at the beginning of the meeting will encourage people to be more connected.
2. Please put your microphone on mute as a courtesy to others when you’re not talking. You might have kids in the background, tv shows, music, etc. People will want to focus, and that’ll be difficult if they can hear what’s going on behind you.
3. Let people know that you might mute them if their audio is really loud, and they aren’t talking. Tell them that this isn’t personal; it’s to help others stay focused. I learned that the hard way recently!
4. Be ok with giving people time to think. Silence in person is more manageable, but silence on a Zoom meeting can feel very awkward. It’s ok to let people have a couple of moments to think.
5. As the group leader, try not to be the sole driving force in the conversation, be a great listener, and ask more questions than you answer. You’ll want to allow others to talk. It’s easy to step in and take over. Avoid doing this as it could decrease the likelihood that people would want to come back.
Step 6: End the meeting
You’ll need to choose “End the meeting” for everyone after your call. Doing so will close the session for everyone.