Ways to Connect During Coronavirus: Clergy Edition
Due to social distancing, our diocese went online almost overnight. Some churches will offer services virtually, but most will not have them temporarily. Below are some ideas for you as you seek to lead alternative options for worship during this difficult season.
Please note: The Gulf Atlantic Diocese does not specifically endorse the individual websites or authors of the external links mentioned below; please consider carefully and theologically what you can utilize in your own parish.
- Livestreaming is simply putting online what you are doing in person. The easiest way to do this is through Facebook live. There are numerous sites offering direction on how to do this easily. If you are livestreaming, consider emailing out a pdf of the liturgy and lyrics to songs so people can participate from home.
- Get a streaming license. We are hopeful no one will be fined during this time, but it may be wise to be sure you are covered to livestream music played during livestreaming. There are three primary licenses most people use, unless a song is public domain. Please check whatever songs you are presenting via livestream under your current licensing (note: CCLI has a separate license for livestreaming). See this article for more information.
- Virtual worship from home, not church. Virtual worship moves worship online, hosted from home, not at the church. The pastor (or leader) could lead from anywhere and lead alone if necessary. This may offer some interesting temporary opportunities such as an interactive sermon or live online prayer for each other.
- Utilize free group meeting software. Discipleship groups and youth groups can use Zoom for free during this pandemic. Consider all of your small groups (even newly created) ‘meeting’ online at the same time for morning prayer, then breaking into groups for discussion questions or extended prayer. This would work for Alpha nights or mission dinners or any of the regularly scheduled meetings you had planned. See Zoom’s offer to sign up for free.
- Build community aid before it is needed. One of the best ways to deal with this type of crisis is to come together as a community of helpers. For churches wanting to organize help for their community, consider sending out a similar google form such as this one to your congregation to be prepared for helping efficiently.
- Resources for ministry leaders. During this there may be additional ways to stay connected, such as group chats (GroupMe, Instagram, FB, Twitter, etc), blog posts, online prayer requests and prayer sessions, asking for everyone to do something at the same time at home and then upload pictures of the activity, encourage rotation of compassion leaders to avoid burnout, offer guidance on lament, have outdoor prayer stations, 24 hour prayer sessions (with rotation of leaders), set up prayer partners, offer a place to share joy during this season, book swaps, encourage congregation to have a sacred space at home, encourage gratitude chains and have everyone bring them upon return to church, or encourage online Bible app usage. We are not suggesting you do all of these, but think of 1-2 ways to help stay connected.
- Make a playlist. Have your church musician/team create a playlist of congregational favorites that everyone can listen to online to feel connected. Consider songs that build faith and cast out fear.
- Give a specific time. However you proceed, it might be helpful to guide your congregation to a specified time to “meet” together online or to suggest everyone have their own morning prayer time with their family on Sundays at the same time you normally would be meeting. Perhaps even record your sermon and email it out as a podcast ahead of time. Be sure to include questions that enable all ages to reflect on their own experiences.
Our language as we lead is important. It will guide our congregational response. Our reaction to this pandemic as the church is a global witness. We must encourage people to see God’s grand narrative and to encourage prayer and drawing close to him.
Please reach out to your Deans to let them know how you’re handling the situation and what you might need. Don’t forget to get some rest yourself. You likely have a team of people who are ready and willing to help; don’t be afraid to empower others to lead well. They will need you for the long-haul, so take care of yourself.
If you are interested in joining a Zoom call to discuss best practices and tips for connecting online during the pandemic, please email Jessica Jones.
Our prayers go with you. Remember that God is in control.
Let us know how your Gulf Atlantic Diocesan staff can help.