Digital Ministry Resources

COMMUNICATION

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.

 

Online Meetings

 

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.

ZOOM Breakout Rooms

As a ZOOM host you can split your participants into breakout rooms (smaller groups) while in a ZOOM meeting. 

Local Church Learning Session: Getting Started with Zoom for Worship and Small Groups

Virtual Workspaces

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!

SOCIAL MEDIA

 Using Facebook for Digital Ministry

Leveraging Facebook for Online Church During COVID-19 by Nona Jones, Head of Global Faith-Based Partnerships at Facebook
(first posted in the Church Communications Facebook Group)

Good morning, everyone. For those I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, my name is Nona Jones and I serve as the Head of Global Faith-Based Partnerships at Facebook. I have received a large volume of emails and social DMs from concerned pastors around the country who are scrambling to try and move services online given growing concerns with in-person gatherings due to COVID-19.

MORE THAN A PROGRAM
Church is more than the weekend gathering and, because of that, while a resource for Facebook Live will be shared below, I encourage you to pay close attention to Facebook Groups. If you think of your Facebook presence like a house, your Page is your front porch, Facebook Live is you opening the front door, and Facebook Groups is you inviting people into your living room for a conversation.
Groups is what will keep your church connected beyond the live stream, so if you haven’t created one yet, do so and link it to your Page. With that framing, please see below.

ONLINE CHURCH STRATEGY
NOTE: Links at the bottom of this post for resources to learn more.

Page: Your Page is the public face of your organization and, as such, is accessible by anyone on our platform. Use your Page to share information about your organization, including upcoming events, messages of encouragement, and general updates that would be of interest to your followers.

Live on Page: When you use the Facebook Live tool from your Page, your followers will have the opportunity to tune in and watch your broadcast while also providing their feedback through questions and likes. They will also be able to share your live stream to their own profile or Page. IMPORTANT: If you link a Group to your Page, you will be able to enable a Join Group button on your Livestream so people can join your online church and connect with others after the livestream ends.

Group: While the Page is where you share information about your organization, your Group is where you build relationships, engage in conversations and grow together. Create a Group and link it to your Page and, when you go live from your Page, you will be able to select a Group for people to join so they can connect with you after the livestream ends.

Live in Group: When you use the Facebook Live tool in your Group, your members will be able to tune in and engage with you through comments and likes. Lives in Groups can’t be shared outside of the Group. Use this feature for bible studies and other online gatherings that you would have with your members during the week.

Learning Units: Use this tool to create sequential, modular learning in your Facebook Group. This is a great tool to help members learn together and you can build units for any topic, including bible studies, sermon series, devotionals and more.

Donations: If you have not already applied to be able to fundraise through Facebook, see below for the link to do it today and to learn more about this feature.

LINKS TO MORE RESOURCES
Linking a Group to Your Page: https://www.facebook.com/help/742706805906818?helpref=uf_permalink

Best practices for going Live from a Page: https://www.facebook.com/help/publisher/626637251511853

Best practices for creating and leading Facebook Groups: https://www.facebook.com/community/getting-started-with-groups/

Leveraging Social Learning Units for teaching: https://www.facebook.com/help/184985882229224?helpref=faq_content

Fundraising on Facebook: https://socialgood.fb.com/charitable-giving/

New Facebook Features: https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/facebook-adds-new-tools-for-facebook-live-amid-rising-demand-and-usage/575060/

Faith on Facebook Toolkit

Facebook launched a free resource called the Faith on Facebook Toolkit. It walks you through how to best use Facebook Pages, Groups, Live, Learning Units, Watch Parties, and more.

Download it here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tk3xya2o3a4ccsy/Faith-on-Facebook-Toolkit-FINAL.pdf?dl=0&fbclid=IwAR2aBHhYcWaEs12MoPwP-_aAEOQ7TQYZvgk785FTupEqrp3th3Qr1MlvfP8

WORSHIP RESOURCES

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. 

Copyright Cautions

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.

Telling the Old Story in a New Time

Best Practices for Worshiping Online and Beyond in a Physically Distanced World: A workshop lead by Jason Moore

Missed the workshop? Want to watch it again? You can purchase a replay pass for $10. 

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

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.

https://vaumc.org/pages/news/2020news/vanco 

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

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!)