Digital Ministry Resources
Communication is ever critical in this new era of Coronavirus pandemic. With the ever-changing and swirling of information, it is critical that your church provide clear, concise, accurate, and easy to digest information as you communicate any changes.
Things to remember:
- Try not to write verbose paragraphs. Use bullet points and easily digestible pieces of information.
- Update your website. Add a COVID-19 box or button to your homepage if you are able that easily links folks to your Coronavirus page. Be sure to look through and update events and items that may have been canceled or postponed.
- Send an email to your congregation letting them know of your changes. (Over the next few weeks you may want to look into implementing an email sending service like MailChimp or Constant Contact to help stay in touch with your congregation.
- Using text messaging. If you have not yet set up texting there are many options out there to do so, including EZTexting, Simpletexting, Remind
- Utilize whatever means you use during snow-day cancellations to help get the word out.
- Screen Sharing to record videos of you sharing materials or information from your computer can be helpful as you learn to teach and lead in these times. Some such options are: LOOM, or ScreenRec.
- Helping your church respond to the coronavirus (Resource UMC)
Once you get closings/cancellations reported to your people, your next step is to brainstorm how you will help keep people connected during the next few weeks. We will have information about facebook groups and other digital connection means on this page early next week.
Make use of digital meeting spaces in order to help keep your church meetings happening as well as create community for your congregation while unable to be together in person. There are several free and paid options with which to do so including:
Some notes about ZOOM
ZOOM (which presently seems to be the most wildely used platform) has a plethora of how-to resources and videos here that will help you get started, should you choose ZOOM as your means of gathering. https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206175806-Frequently-Asked-Questions
Be sure to turn off the ability for your ZOOM participants to share their screens during your calls–especially if you are posting your ZOOM link publicly so that anyone can join.
This will help protect you from ZOOM trolls who could take over your meeting by sharing their screen–OR more likely for us–un-savvy folks accidentally hitting the ‘share screen’ button and taking over your meeting with their own computer desktop.
You can read more about that HERE.
Also worth noting: you may want to stagger your ZOOM calls to not begin on the hour. Scheduling them to start at X:15 or X:45 may help your participants get connected more easily, as X:00 are peak times for ZOOM calls across the world right now.
Connecting with your staff and key leaders during this time of not being present together in the same space often or at all is critical. We suggest you look into using Slack to connect to those persons together.
Slack is an instant messaging/file sharing/communication tool that is free. https://slack.com/
It has a computer/desktop application, is web-based, and has cell phone/tablet apps as well.
Your District Staff has been using Slack for years to keep connected while on the go. We can help you get started if you need assistance!
Recording Worship or Sermons
This is a basic primer in recording and posting a worship service or sermon.
John Speight has offered Christ Church’s facilities to any church that would like to record their sermon for next Sunday. They can record it during the week, it will cost a fee to pay personnel costs.
Before you jump right into livestreaming worship, you MUST be sure that you have the proper copyrights in place. A license for streaming is different from a standard CCLI license.
Here are several links to copyright information.
A Copyright webinar from UMCOM
Livestream on the Cheap
This is a presentation given at Bi-District Training Day in January of 2020.
FreeOnlineChurch.com is a new product by Outreach that may work for your context.
- The United Methodist Publishing House Grants Temporary Permission for UM Book of Worship and UM Hymnal Ritual Resources
- 9 Key Tips for Planning an Online Worship Service
- 5 important tweaks to make to your online church service this Sunday
- Hymnary (for determining Hymn copyright)
VA Conference Online Worship “Counting” Policy
More Livestreaming Help
The UMC GCFA (General Council on Finance and Administration) has released a video on YouTube by AV Specialist Andrew Jensen. In about 45 minutes, Andrew reviews three livestreaming platforms (Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube) and shares how a beginner can start using one of these platforms to share services, sermons, bible studies or other ministries with his or her church.
A few notes about Livestream
Please note: Due to the large numbers of churches streaming on Sunday mornings, platforms like Facebook are hiccuping a bit in some instances for some churches. We recommend that if your church plans to use Facebook Live on Sunday that you also have a backup plan. That could be a practice or test-run service recorded and ready to upload to Facebook and your website via Vimeo or Youtube. It could be a previous archived worship service to post. It could simply be a message from your pastor indicating that you’d hoped to be together ‘live’ via Facebook at your normal time, but that due to high volume and technology issues, you will try again at a later time.
The following comes from Joel W. Smith a video/filmmaker and church media director.
Here’s a few tips I have after helping tons of churches on their streaming setups and spending 20 years in the live television and production industry:
1. Just because you technically can live stream doesn’t mean you MUST live stream. In most cases, it’s better to pre-record your content and schedule a time for it to go live. This is cheaper, easier, and more reliable than a live stream. This also removes the stress and hassle of trying to figure out how to live stream (and do it well without any issues). Don’t buy into the myth that live streaming is better just because it’s live. The only way live streaming is better than pre-recording is if you’re responding on-air to live comments, and most churches NEVER do that. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube have scheduling features so you can still treat it like a semi-live experience and have someone moderating comments during normal service/event times. Or even better, you can still live stream the pre-recorded content if you want and most people will be none the wiser.
2. If you really are set on live streaming – TEST YOUR STREAM! I can’t express that enough. Do not go live for the first time and expect it to go perfect. Check everything – video, audio, lighting, internet speeds, encoding quality, frame rate, consistency, how long can it stay stable, etc. If you’re planning to start streaming for the first time this Sunday, I’m going to say something you won’t like – you should have been testing weeks ago. Churches that start streaming for the first time usually take multiple weeks to dial in everything to maintain a quality experience, and even then will still encounter occasional speed bumps or issues along the way. Set yourself and your church up for success and test test test!
3. A single camera to a single hardware encoder is exponentially better than a single camera into a computer using encoding software. Computers require more maintenance, more power, more tweaking/adjusting of settings, and cost more initially than a good hardware encoder. If you just want it to work, hardware is your answer. Now… Can it be done with a computer and encoding software? Absolutely. But it won’t be plug and play, and it won’t always be a good experience. Live encoding of uncompressed video takes more than people often realize. People can always get song lyrics online and you can even provide links to a non-spammy lyrics site for them in a video description or social media post.
Livestreaming via Facebook:
A webinar from United Methodist Communications
Livestreaming on Multiple Platforms
A webinar from United Methodist Communications
Online Giving Resources
Set up online giving. There are many options with which to do so. Do your research about which will work best for your setting. The first place to start is with your current church database software. Do they have a giving option? Is it an add-on? The Virginia Conference has a relationship with VANCO for online giving. Reaching out to them may help you get that set up. Some additional options of varying scope and price structure are:
VAUMC + VANCO for online giving
Here is information from our conference regarding VANCO as an online giving platform.
VAUMC Offers Giving Website
The Virginia Conference Treasurer’s Office is pleased to announce the launch of a donation website. The Virginia Conference recognizes this is a period of hardship for many and in an effort to assist and facilitate giving for those churches that may not be able to do so on their own, this website has been created for online giving as well as offering the option to support the Pandemic Relief Fund. This is a collection of funds on behalf of the conference in an effort to support those organizations who are affected by or providing assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. https://vaumc.org/pages/news/2020news/donations
eGiving + Connectional Giving
A webinar from United Methodist Communications
Digital Ministry ZOOM Meeting
Our Bi-District Communications Coordinator hosted a “Digital Ministry” presentation and conversation via ZOOM on Tuesday, March 17.
We have recorded that presentation and offer it to you here. It is 90 minutes long, so we have put a ‘table of contents’ here so that you can sort through and easily find the areas in which you need information.
We covered topics like: Faceboook Groups, Facebook Live, Recording and posting video messages, Texting, Email, Online giving and more.
Time Stamps for the Video
(Find the section you’d like to view.)
1:25 — Opening Prayer
2:14 — Introduction
3:57 — Goals/Topics to Discuss
4:36 — Digital Ministry Intro
5:15 — Digital Worship
14:35 — Engaging with Livestream Worshipers
20:48 — Copyright
26:32 — Social Media
30:43 — Facebook
42:15 — Facebook Groups
50:09 — Instagram
51:45 — Websites
54:38 — Online Meeting Platforms
59:05 — Slack (workplace connection for your staff and leaders!)
1:01:01 — Online Giving
1:08:17 — Email Communication
1:11:00 — Text Messaging
1:13:55 — Non-Tech Ideas
1:15:49 — Keep Being the Church
1:17:26 — Don’t Forget the Kids
1:18:07 — Final Thoughts & Ideas (Schedules, Update Your Calendars, Guests/1st Timers/Video Tips/Sermon Follow Up Questions/Music Playlists, & More!)