We are facing a lot of uncharted challenges right now with the threat of COVID-19. Churches, schools, restaurants, and businesses are all being asked to eliminate gatherings of over 10 people. This “social distancing” will eventually help stop the spread of this virus and limit the number of deaths around the world. This challenge is changing how we live our lives, but it doesn’t change our mandate to share the gospel and disciple people in our care.
Our Tribes may not be able to meet physically together for a while, but that doesn’t mean they cannot meet. We are seeing this take place with online streaming weekend worship services, and with free internet-based tools, our Tribes can gather as well. The two most prominent platforms for hosting meetings online are Zoom and Google Hangouts. There are pros and cons to each one.
There is a free version available.
Only hosts need an account.
There is a phone-in option.
The free version is limited to 40 minutes; however, they have lifted the limit for some groups
You must download and use the Zoom application on your desktop or mobile device to participate with video.
Capacity (up to 100 participants/devices in one meeting)
How To Use:
Open Zoom in a web browser or mobile app (apple device, android device, chrome web browser extension)
Click “Host a meeting with video on”
Click “Invite participations”
Select how you’d like to send an invite:
Default Email, Gmail, Yahoo to send email invite
or “copy URL”, “Copy Invitation” to copy a link and send it via a text message, email, facebook message, etc.
You can also schedule a meeting on the zoom website and send an invite to join you at a specific time, including a link to your online meeting. (See Instructions - Click Here)
It’s free to use with a google account.
There are no time limits.
It’s accessible via a web browser on any computer or mobile device.
It requires a Google account for all participants.
A phone-in option not available unless you have a business account with Google.
Capacity (25 participants/devices per meeting)
How To Use:
Open Google Hangouts in web browser or mobile app (apple device, android device, chrome web browser extension)
Click “Video Call” button
Click “Invite People” and type in their email address (If they don’t have a google account it will send them an invite to setup an account)
You can also schedule a meeting on your google calendar and send an invite to join you at a specific time, including a link to your online meeting. (See Instructions - Click Here)
Our Tribes may not be able to meet physically together for a while, but that doesn’t mean they cannot meet at all. Consider making use of these wonderful online platforms with your Tribes during this season and watch God do amazing things in and through all of you.
Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with more than twenty years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Teams at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN., and Seacoast Church in Charleston, S.C., prior to becoming the Discipleship and Small Groups Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes. You can follow his blog at www.chrissurratt.com.