Making Time for Community Connection

Cup of coffee next to a laptop computer

Our people need to feel connected to each other. When we're in person on Sunday morning that happens in many informal ways. How might we use technology to re-create some of that connection during times of social distancing?

One advantage that web conferencing software offers is the ability to have folx who are attending be on video, just audio, or to call in using a land line. This creates opportunities during the Sunday morning experience to have congregants connect to one another.

Zoom in particular has the ability to create breakout rooms, chat, raise hands, and a host can control microphones & video. The meeting host can either choose what breakout rooms people will go to, or can let Zoom choose randomly.

Getting the Word Out

It's important to communicate this new way of connecting on Sunday morning. Publish the Sunday Morning links in your weekly enews. You may also wish to post the links on your website and Facebook page. To help people arrive on time consider resending this information about 30 minutes before start time, and let people know how this will be done.

We'll email the connection link again at 9:00 AM Sunday.

Pastoral Sharing

Small congregations who have a practice of sharing their pastoral needs verbally may want to use the "hand raise" function to be unmuted so that they can share.

Larger congregations may want to have folx post their pastoral needs in the chat. This can be saved for follow-up by the pastoral care team. These could also be sent privately.

Welcome and Greeting (i.e. Passing the Peace)

Send participants into breakout rooms in small groups (3-4) to say hello and briefly connect. Figure 1 minute per person.

Here's some fun language you might use to introduce the idea:

Do you all know how flue powder works at Hogwarts? Zoom has something that works like flue powder. We are going to magically send you all into breakout rooms so you can spend a few minutes saying hello and seeing how each other is doing.

Reflection on the Message

Breakout rooms could also be used after the message (e.g. sermon, homily). Offer a couple of questions for reflection via chat. Have them appoint a time-keeper and a scribe. Figure 3 minutes per person.

"Coffee Hour"

After the service, leave the chat open for folks to connect.

You can also use the breakout room function to put folx into a small group for conversation -- again using the random function.

Disruptive Participants

The Zoom host can mute attendee microphones so that dogs and doorbells don't interrupt service. Zoom also allow you to remove any participants and prevent them from rejoining. You can also lock a Zoom session so that no new people can join.