Interactive Online Church with ZOOM

The Coronavirus has forced churches to go online. Some have been online for a while whilst others are on a steep learning curve. Across the board, an important consideration appears to have been overlooked – and that is the degree to which people are able to interact. One platform that allows that is ZOOM. Jamie Freeman takes us through the advantages of using ZOOM and making your online presence more interactive.

When you can’t meet in person, ZOOM is the next best thing. Live streaming services (e.g. Facebook Live) can lack meaningful interaction. Yes, some allow you to click ‘like’ or add a comment, but these don’t satisfy our need for human connection.

ZOOM is versatile. It is a platform that allows for online gatherings of different sizes. All ZOOM plans allow up to 100 participants and with Large Meeting add-on, you can have up to 500 people.

Here are 5 tips for coordinating and leading a Gathering via ZOOM…

1.     Clarify the purpose of the gathering. What are you trying to achieve? Do you want people to feel connected to one another? Do you want them to engage with relevant information? Do you want them to experience God in worship? Pick one thing. You’re better to have multiple shorter gatherings with clear and different purposes than to try and cram everything into one.

2.     Determine the ideal group size. What is group dynamic needed to achieve the purpose? Will they be required to interact with others? Will these people know each other? How many people will be online? Tip: smaller groups (less than 8) are better for interaction but you need to make sure everyone knows each other, so get people to share their names early on. If you lead a larger gathering, make sure you introduce yourself and only the people who will be contributing.

3.     Communicate the outline in advance. How long will you need to achieve the purpose of the gathering, with the number of people present? What are the key elements you will need to include? Write an outline and communicate it prior to the gathering. Run through it briefly at the beginning and make reference to it as things progress. If people understand the flow, they are more likely to give their attention and remain engaged.

4.     Name the elephant in the (virtual) room. Set the tone of the gathering early by naming some of the challenges (and opportunities) of meeting online. For smaller gatherings that encourage interaction, agree on some rules for engagement. It can be hard to read body language, so usual social ques may be missed.

5.     Provide an opportunity for feedback at the end. Create an online poll and/or email a link to a short survey where people can provide feedback on their experience. What worked well. What was challenging? How could you improve? If people have a negative experience and are not given the opportunity to provide feedback, it is unlikely they will engage again.

Jamie Freeman – Team Leader – Gen1K Mission | NSW & ACT Baptist Churches