Why You Still Need Zoom

Bryan Haley

Now that things have settled down a bit, what do you do with that lingering Zoom account? Here's why your church may want to consider keeping that video meeting service.

Show Notes

Episode Summary

Continuing our series on community--building, we turn to everyone's favorite-to-hate tool: video conferencing. What place do Zoom and other video tools have on ministry moving forward, and how can you continue to use Zoom to build community?

Mentioned in this Episode and Other Resources

Transcript

Jeanette:

One champion of the pandemic has been Zoom and other video meeting services. Working from home and stay-at-home orders brought the influx of video meetings and the eventual Zoom fatigue. Now that things have settled down a bit, what do you think about that lingering Zoom account? Do you still need it? Is hybrid the future of meetings and work? What about church? Today we talk about why your church may want to consider keeping that video meeting service and how you can use it to continue in your future ministry.

Bryan:

Hey, church communicator. Welcome to the Church Juice podcast. I'm Bryan Haley. I'm the producer of Church Juice. I'm joined with my co-host, Jeanette Yates. We are here as always energizing church communications.

Jeanette:

That's right.

Bryan:

Hey, Jeanette.

Jeanette:

Get ready to get your juice for today.

Bryan:

That's right. So today we're talking Zoom.

Jeanette:

We're about six episodes into this series of talking about using online to build community, maintain community. And today we're going to talk about everyone's frenemy. The love-hate relationship.

Bryan:

That's the word I was looking for. Thank you.

Jeanette:

That's the love-hate relationship we have with that virtual meeting platform. And so here's why we think your church ought to consider keeping a Zoom account. I know, I know you're ready to get rid of it, you're ready to ditch it, but we're going to talk about how you might be able to use it to continue to build community among your church and how it's useful for you moving forward into the future.

Bryan:

I'll be honest, at church we have two paid Zoom accounts and the Zoom rep keeps bugging me because obviously, they want us to add on more services and whatever. So I've been waiting for us to discuss this before I decided if we needed to remove them, or keep them, or what. So I'm actually excited for my own ministry use.

Jeanette:

Well, I think if I convince you to keep two Zoom accounts and maybe even add another one, I should get a little kickback from Zoom. Might have to contact them about that. You can tell your rep.

Bryan:

Affiliate. That's right. So let's dive in. Let's talk about Zoom, obviously, churches all over the place used Zooms, and obviously workplaces and offices, but when the pandemic started, that was one of the big go-to places for meetings and even for church services. I know my wife's grandparents in Maine still have church service over Zoom. So it was really one of those very first options that were easy for churches to live stream and different things. Now we're a year and a half in, churches are either hybrid or mostly back in-person. So let's talk about now that churches are engaging in person again, that's what people want, we want this community in-person, they're watching the live stream, but most churches have moved to actual streaming, not just Zoom. So what benefits are there to keep a Zoom account if we know that things are moving toward, or back to that in-person, or at least hybrid model?

Jeanette:

Zoom church was so popular during the pandemic, it made it on to Saturday Night Live.

Bryan:

That's true. That's true. I forgot about that.

Jeanette:

So, you know it was a thing. Like you said, we're moving to back to in-person, a lot of people are still streaming, but it's a hybrid church model, in-person and online service. So what's the point? What's the point of Zoom? And so just my one statement, period at the end of it, is keeping your Zoom account for ministry is going to widen your audience. Period at the end. It's going to widen your potential ministry base. And this is my soapbox. So feel free to knock me off of it, Bryan, but guess what? Even before the pandemic and continuing into the future, long after we get through this, there will be a group of people who cannot, or will not come to a church building, offering another way for them to connect is a more inclusive way of doing ministry. And so it also will open up to a whole different segment of the population in your community.

Bryan:

So let's dig into that a little bit more. This isn't in our outline, but I think it's worth discussing a little bit more. So how does something like Zoom widen your audience to people who, obviously your example, and I know we'll talk about this more, but homebound, ministry to people that are homebound, how is that different on Zoom over just live stream service? What's the context there?

Jeanette:

So let's say your church is like, okay, well, we are doing pretty good because we live stream our service. So our homebound people can watch the service.

Bryan:

I think that's the default for most churches.

Jeanette:

Yeah.

Bryan:

That is their answer.

Jeanette:

Right. That's great. But is worship the same as discipleship? No. I think what we need to think about is, okay, just like with our in-person people that are coming back, or maybe they watch live stream but then what do they do? They attend a small group. They volunteer. How are they able to participate in the life of the church? Are they able to connect with people in a small group or a Bible study? Are they able to go to the prayer meeting and receive, or even give prayer? What are the opportunities for them to connect throughout the week? Just like we want people that show up on Sundays to connect throughout the week, that's half of what we talk about, Bryan, with church communications is getting them more connected, getting them more plugged in, getting them more involved. When we don't have a way for those homebound people to connect throughout the week, we're missing a big opportunity to make them feel part of our community.

Bryan:

That's valid. So what I'm hearing and I think the way that my church, I would say probably most churches think about it is either, or, live stream or Zoom. The default has been, we live stream, so we don't need Zoom because people watch the live stream. But what you're saying is it should be both and rather than either, or.

Jeanette:

Yes, and I really, I know some churches are small enough that Zoom really worked well for the church.

Bryan:

Yeah. Right.

Jeanette:

But it really doesn't work that well, there are some benefits to having zooming in church because you get to see each other and be in that same group together. So that was exciting and fun. But the truth is, it's better for connecting and conversation, which doesn't always happen in church, unless you're a teenager and you're sitting in the back pew, then you're having a dozen conversations. But I think there's a case for, yes, live stream your service and then maybe meet in a Zoom, this is what we did at my church when the pandemic first happened, first of all, we started live streaming. That was one thing we started doing. And then it was like, but that doesn't feel right, that didn't feel right to us. And so we started saying after church, you can join us in a Zoom call and we'll talk about the sermon. Now we're not doing that anymore, but there are still people that aren't coming to church. And maybe they would be willing to do something like that, maybe not every week, but having that availability to connect.

Bryan:

I have heard from some churches who have stopped doing that model because most people were coming back. So it's almost even more a letdown when it's two people on the Zoom call rather than 20. So how do you, I guess this is more strategy or strategic, but how do you think through and how do you plan for, you know it's going to be a smaller group that's meeting after church online. So how do you prepare for that?

Jeanette:

Well, I think there's a couple of things to consider and there are a couple of different ways you could approach this. If you want to make this available to everybody that's watching online, that's one thing, you could do that. And then it still may be small, but you're like, you don't know.

Bryan:

Right. They're still, at our church I know there's a third of our church is still only online.

Jeanette:

Right. So you could broadcast it out there as part of your live stream like we're getting together on Zoom and five people could show up or 55, or 500, who knows. But if you're really saying, I want to be intentional specifically about that group of people that belong to our church, they're attendees or members, they were active parts of our church before the pandemic. Now they're trying to connect via live stream, I want to make sure, I can connect with them and I give them this opportunity. Then you're marketing your strategy as communicating with them like, Hey, I'd love to meet up with you after the service. And obviously, if there are two services, your pastor can't hop on a Zoom call in between services. But somebody could. There is a staff member or volunteer that might be willing to do it. And maybe somebody who's at home who's worshiping online would be willing to lead that.

Jeanette:

I think that's something to consider. But again, we talked about this a little bit before we hit record, you can't build community unless you're being intentional about it. So I think having a plan and a process for how are we going to connect with the members that we know that are still either not comfortable coming, or they can't come, or whatever, how are we going to intentionally bring them in? And then, of course, that also would be an opportunity to invite people who've, have been homebound for years that are part of your church to do that as well.

Bryan:

So let's expand a little bit, let's talk through a hybrid approach to what the church is doing. So prayer meetings, we talked a little bit about, but there's also board and committee meetings, there's worship which we dove into. There are all of these different things that are happening each and every week, or month, or however often, what are some ways that churches could continue this approach using video conferencing?

Jeanette:

In our notes for this, I wrote the first thing I thought was, hey, guess what? Not every meeting needs to be in-person. So we've all heard that why do a meeting when it could be an email? Well, why do an in-person meeting when it could be a Zoom call? So again, this is not a replace every single meeting with an online meeting, but for someone who's coming from both a Baptist tradition and a Methodist tradition, I can tell you right now there's a lot of meetings.

Bryan:

Yep.

Jeanette:

That maybe could be a Zoom call. And this does a couple of different things, even for people who are showing up to your church. But one thing this does is this might allow people who have been not willing to volunteer for a said committee or group, to say, oh yeah, well, if I can hop on a Zoom call during my lunch break before I leave work for the day and vote on this procedural thing, that would be easier for me. Also, when your committee only meets once a month, or maybe once a quarter, and you've got things that you're trying to get done, having a Zoom call instead of either waiting to the next meeting or trying to squeeze something into everybody's schedule is also probably a more efficient way. So I think that's really important to think about.

Bryan:

I've also found too, most committee meetings that I have to go to are in the evening, which also means that I'm gone for another night during the week. I'm away from bedtime because I have two little kids. So hopping on a Zoom call is much easier. I can walk into my office at home and jump on the call and still be there for bedtime or dinner or whatever.

Jeanette:

You're gone for a fraction of the time.

Bryan:

But I have also found that when we do meetings in-person versus in Zoom, Zoom levels the playing field a little bit, people are more active and more responsive, or willing to speak up than they are in-person, often in-person it's a couple of people that dominate the conversation. So I have found that to be true too.

Jeanette:

One of the things I was looking at in preparation for this episode was just why Zoom is so tiring, and what you talked about is part of the reason that one of the reasons people speak up more is because we're all staring at each other. Whereas in a meeting, everybody's staring one way listening to the person in charge of the meeting.

Bryan:

Staring at another person.

Jeanette:

Yeah. And so when we're all in a meeting online, it's like, we're all looking at each other and it's like, are you going to say anything? Are you going to say anything? And it's the silence is more deafening.

Bryan:

Yeah. Which leads to Zoom fatigue. That's a thing. Why don't we talk about that for a second? Because I think Zoom fatigue is real. I get tired of sitting on Zoom all day long. And so I know that that's a real thing, even in the church, I know that we've had families in our own church that basically refuse to hop on a Zoom call because they're just tired of it.

Jeanette:

Especially if the majority of their job now is doing Zoom things.

Bryan:

Exactly. So what are some things that we can do, either as a church or just in general as Zoom users to battle against that fatigue that happens?

Jeanette:

So I think one thing you can do is, so let's say you're like, okay, I'm bought in, I think we're going to offer an online option for at least one of our small groups. So even if you're just going to do that, that's a perfect way to step into this. You can't just take what you're doing in person and put it online. I think you need to write a new lesson plan, write a new way to connect through Zoom. So let's say your curriculum is read the scripture, read this intro to the study and then ask these seven questions. That's going to get old, but you can find a lot of, there's a lot on YouTube, I bet you can find somebody else reading the scripture on YouTube. So that might be like, let's watch this person read on YouTube, or you can ask somebody else to read it that's a really good reader.

Jeanette:

Another thing I think you can do too is if you are presenting something, you maybe don't have all of the screens open, but then when you're in the conversation mode, you open it up because that takes a little of the pressure off. And then, when you're going through the questions, I think, first of all, people need to have the questions ahead of time. And I think you pick the ones that are most conversational and use the tools, especially if you're using Zoom, they have a lot of things like you can do polls, you can do questions. So somebody sparks something like, oh, I think this is what this means. You can do a poll like, do you think Jesus was saying this or this? And then we can discuss it. So I think you can use some of the tools in there that are a little bit more engaging, things like that.

Bryan:

That's good. In this little series that we're doing, we've been talking about building community online. So we've been talking about that a little bit, but let's talk directly, answer the question. How does Zoom build community in an online space?

Jeanette:

This goes back to that first question we answered, just widening your audience, widening who you can minister to. I want to say out front, online, anything doesn't replace in-person, anything. And especially when it comes to worship, discipleship, pastoral care, all of those things. Bryan, we've talked about this. I am very passionate about this because my mom has been homebound for at least six years now. And until the pandemic, she was not able to watch church online, she read the transcript when it came to her until she stopped being able to read. Having that online connection throughout on Sundays was really helpful to her. She was like, oh, I missed just seeing the inside of the church, she missing the inside of the church. I know she's not the only person. So I'm referencing my mom as a case study but as this goes, she's not the only one. People that are homebound, and have been homebound, people that are immunocompromised, or whatever reason they're staying at home, maybe their work schedule doesn't allow them to, whatever, giving them a way to connect with other members, their fellow members. And in many cases like for my mom, these are her friends. It's one thing to be like, well, I've always been homebound, I've never actually been to this church, I just like the preaching. Yes, we still want to try to connect with them, but that's different. But there are some people that used to be actively involved and now cannot be, and it's traumatic when they can't connect with people, they're connecting on Facebook, what if we gave them another way? And you can use rooms, rooms is another, Facebook rooms, but there's also the Zoom. And so if you have 10 small groups at your church, everyone doesn't have to offer it in-person online.

Bryan:

Yeah. Offer something.

Jeanette:

Offer one thing. So I think that is important. Another thing that I was thinking about, and like I said, I have this lens that I look through. My mom really does, homebound and I'm sure other people who are at home feel the same way, yes, I want my pastor to come to visit me and pray for me, but that's still only one touch a week if you're lucky.

Bryan:

Once a week is probably not common.

Jeanette:

Yeah. And a lot of times it's once a month. But like, hey, you want to hop on a Zoom call, and probably Zoom isn't even the best for this either, but even just doing a FaceTime so I can see my pastor's face. Maybe he can do a quick prayer with me, or maybe we gather a couple of different people, or maybe you're not checking in with me the ill person, or the homebound person, you're checking in with my family. So I think that is another way to think about offering prayer. Yes, I want you to come and pray with me in person, but with us, we're taking all the prayer we can get. So if you want to hop on a FaceTime call with us every day and pray for us, we're taking it.

Bryan:

Yeah, absolutely.

Jeanette:

So anyway, I just think it's something to think about. How can I use this more? Not do I need to use it, but how can I. Just ask that. How can this be useful to me in ministry? Think outside the box, think outside of going back to just what you had before.

Bryan:

Yeah. I think that's a valid point too, because two years ago, Zoom and even FaceTime for elderly people or whatever, most people didn't know how to use it, but now because of the pandemic, everyone knows how to use Zoom or FaceTime or, pick your tool. But everyone's making video calls.

Jeanette:

Well, we've talked about this before, when people see the value of it, they're going to learn how to use it.

Bryan:

Absolutely. So now that everyone knows how to use it, let's use the tool. I think that's a good point. So I think we've already answered this, but I'll ask it anyway. Is Zoom actually a practical tool for future ministry? Think five years from now, beyond the pandemic, I sure hope, is Zoom still, or video calls, is that still a practical tool for ministry?

Jeanette:

I think yes. Now we will probably have more advanced tools in five years than what we have now. So maybe in five years, and this is where I'm not going to earn my Zoom money, maybe it won't be Zoom, but I think what you want to do before you just like you didn't see the value in Zoom until you needed it and then you got, and then I think the same thing will happen is as we continue to think outside the box about how we can reach more people, how we can grow deeper in relationship with others, and that technology is a tool that can be used in a variety of ways. So it's up to us to be intentional with that tool, video, audio, augmented reality, whatever.

Bryan:

Yeah. Right.

Jeanette:

Asking our ourselves, how can this help me? And if you can't answer that question, then you don't need it.

Bryan:

I think that's good.

Jeanette:

But you also want to think about, even if you just start with thinking who are all of the people in my church, who are all of my members, am I able to reach all of them with the tools I have? And if not, what tools can I get to do that? So I think that's where you want to focus.

Bryan:

Yeah. I would say that it's safe to assume, or safe to say that a lot of churches saw Zoom, or video calls, or live streaming as a temporary fix. What we're finding is that it really is a permanent solution or a permanent tool that we can use. So finding the best ways to use that for all areas of ministry, for homebound, for board meetings, for whatever, these are tools that we have, that people know how to use now. So let's find ways to use them for the sake of the gospel. So I think there's a lot of potentials there and am excited to hear how churches use Zoom in the future too. I think there's a lot of creativity out there. So I'm excited to see what that looks like. Any last thoughts?

Jeanette:

Well, I really am excited about what is going to happen, what is happening is going to happen in churches. I really think churches are historically hesitant to try new technology, new strategies. They're like, this is what we've always done, this is what we're going to keep doing. But I think the pandemic made a lot of churches dive headfirst into technology and then they're like, oh, I can do this.

Bryan:

Yeah. Right.

Jeanette:

And so I think keeping that mindset, and I'm sure I've quoted him before, but Michael Hyatt talks about growth mindset. I can do this, I can learn new things. I think that is going to be a great mindset for churches to have moving forward. And so I just want to encourage churches, do you have to use all the tools? Absolutely not. Do you want to use all the tools that you can and that are available to you, that make sense for you? Absolutely.

Bryan:

Thank you for sharing a little bit today, your opinion and some of the research, and also just being vulnerable and being able to talk about your mom. I appreciate that. So thank you.

Jeanette:

Well, thank you.

Bryan:

Next week we're going to wrap up this little series on building community. So we'll move back to social media for one episode we're going to talk about Instagram and discuss how your church might use that platform to build community in your church. But before you go, as you're listening, if you have more questions, or you want to discuss today's episode some more, head over to our Facebook group. You can get the link to that group along with today's show notes at churchjuice.com/podcast. And guess what? If you are listening today and you've been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you should know this. We've launched a grant program for churches to make their next big communication or marketing idea a reality. And technically the application period has closed, but here's a secret. If you head to churchjuice.com/grant, today, only today, November 1st, you can still apply. This is a secret only to podcast listeners. So don't lose out on your chance at free money and a support program. Head over to churchjuice.com/grant for all the details and to apply. But again, the application window actually closes today.

Jeanette:

Yes. So please go do this.

Bryan:

There's been a lot of good applications already. So I'm excited.

Jeanette:

Church Juice's podcast is a listener-supported production of ReFrame Ministries, a family of programs designed to help you see your whole life reframed by God's gospel story. Church Juice is produced by Bryan Haley with post-production by audio engineer, Nate Morris in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information about Church Juice, visit churchjuice.com. And for more information on ReFrame Ministries and our family of programs, visit reframeministries.org.