Here are some important things to note when creating worship opportunities via zoom:

Don’t allow participant video or audio

Though it can be tempting to try to allow people to participate via audio and video if you’re using Zoom to stream your worship services, this is rarely a good idea. Consider these factors:

  • It is hard using these kind of technologies for everyone to be in sync. If everyone is saying their responses at even slightly different times, the results will be an auditory disaster.
  • If you have multiple people in the same room in their home streaming the service from different devices (e.g. mom is on the computer, son is on his phone), their mics will cause an ear-piercing screech due to interference.
  • Zoombombing is unfortunately becoming a trend. People trying to cause trouble have been tuning in to churches offering Zoom worship in order to be intentionally disruptive at best, and wildly inappropriate at worst. (This is also one of the reason I disable participant video in my tutorial—there have been cases where Zoombombers display inappropriate images).

Instead, when you’re creating worship opportunities, I encourage you to use Zoom as you would any other livestreaming platform, where the expectation is that people will simply be viewing a live video of the service, and saying the responses in their homes.

In order to do this, you’ll need to set up your meeting defaults with the options listed here. And remember, once you actually start the meeting, you will need to ensure everyone in the meeting remains muted (checking the “Mute participants upon entry” option when scheduling isn’t enough). Make sure to login to your meeting early to make sure all participants stay muted. If you don’t know how to do that, follow this guide from Zoom, and then uncheck “Allow participants to unmute themselves” at the end.

Though worship services do not present a good opportunity for virtual interaction, I encourage you to offer your people other opportunities for fellowship and sharing. Click here for my recommendations on setting up fellowship or other small-group meetings.

Make sure to set up recurring meetings

Setting up recurring meetings is important, not just for consistency, but for ease of participation. Once you set up a recurring meeting, the meeting link and the call-in number with ID doesn’t change. That means you can put the same link on your website for people to find instead of updating it every time you hold a service. It also means that you can tell your parishioners without any internet access that they can use the call-in numbers every week (or day), rather than having to communicate a different string of numbers for them to write down for each and every service. Figure out the schedule you want to follow, and stick to it! (Also, ensure the people who will call-in have a Book of Common Prayer available in their home in case they can’t access a digital bulletin).

Spread the word

You can offer a wonderful prayer service through Zoom, but it won’t help anyone if they don’t know about it! Put your worship schedule with accompanying Zoom links and call-in information )along with downloadable bulletins) on you website. Make Facebook posts reminding people what opportunities your church is offering. Include a section in every mass email that includes all the details your people will need to participate fully in the life of your church.

Just do it

You may experience hiccups, or even disasters, as you try to figure out how to use technology to offer worship and fellowship to your church members. That is okay, and even to be expected. The only thing that is NOT okay is not trying. Now, more than ever, we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones and learn new skills in order to keep our people connected. So test things out, try your best, and know that I am available to support you.

Still having trouble? Email the Rev. Megan Dembi, Missioner for Communications, or call her at 610-691-5655 ext. 225.