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Congregational Resources during COVID-19

During the rapidly evolving pandemic, please know that your congregation is not alone. We offer this short list of resources that you might continue your work faithfully and safely.


Looking for different resources? Get information that meets your needs by connecting with us at info@thecrg.org or click Chat with an Expert at the bottom of this page.


Resource List for Online Church

This succinct guide quickly connects leaders to information on a variety of topics: COVID-19 processes and checklists, streaming software and equipment, faith formation, online giving and recorded webinars.


Concerning COVID-19

The Episcopal Church provides guidelines for compassionate Christians, instructions for live streaming and mass messaging, plus creative worship and faith formation resources.


Coronavirus Resources for the Church

This Wheaton College resource center offers a congregational planning manual (also available in Spanish), a free weekly webinar to prepare congregations for the coronavirus, a free online summit starting March 26, as well as tip sheets and links to top resources.


How to Lead Calmly in a Global Outbreak

In this article, experienced pastors George Mason and Mark Wingfield provide a pep-talk for faith leaders to lead calmly in a time of crisis.


Q&A: How to care for the elderly without putting them at risk of coronavirus

In this article, the chief medical officer at AARP offers advice for common COVID questions and how to support elderly loved ones.


Virtual Shabbat Box

Create a virtual shabbat with short meditations and readings. Instead of a physical group gathering, engage the senses through rituals that heal the body, mind, and spirit.


Resources for Community- and Faith-Based Leaders

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers official information for emergency planning and action steps, verified information about the virus, cleaning and disinfecting practices, and important organizational practices.


Three Big Communication Mistakes Organizations are Making During the COVID-19 Crisis

Communications leader Kem Meyer offers advice to organizations about communications during the pandemic.


For The CRG Created For The CRG New
Creating a Good Virtual Worship Experience

I’ve “attended” several synagogue and church worship services over the last weeks and must report my disappointment. That’s a nice way of saying that most really stink. Live streaming a regular worship service just doesn’t work.



Remember that as soon as you put something on a screen, the viewer compares it to everything else they see on their screens. I’m not suggesting you need a full multicamera production, but sticking a laptop in front of the sanctuary does not cut it.



There are lots of churches which offer well done, live services online. Many are megachurches that do this weekly. You don’t have to match the professional productions of megachurches, but think about raising your standards of excellence.


Some things to keep in mind:




  • Is your sanctuary the best place to hold an online worship service? If it’s a large cavernous space, probably not since you’ll likely have audio and lighting issues.


  • Can people hear everything well? The microphone in a laptop or webcam isn’t adequate, especially if it’s not within 3-5 feet from the worship leader. Purchase a simple, inexpensive, USB microphone and move it close to your presenter. Better yet, get several lavalier type mics and a small mixer that feeds your computer.


  • Is the video clear and well lit? Even cheap, high definition webcams are better than most stock cameras in laptops (not necessarily true for some smart phones). And they’re inexpensive. A separate camera allows you to position the camera where it sees the best not where the computer sits best.


  • If you’re using one camera as a catch-all, keep the view tight. Have worship leaders stand close together. Most sanctuaries are too dark for video and lit to focus on certain spots that aren’t optimal for video casting.


  • Don’t ask people to download worship documents beforehand, include them in the experience. This is tougher to do since you’ll need a way to split the screen. If that’s not an option, an alternative is showing just the text during singing and responsive readings. Not only is it easier to view but helps break up the visuals and monotony.


  • If your worship service is boring it will be more boring on video. Consider modifying your normal service. Most importantly, make it shorter, focused and familiar. Remember, your audience is sitting in front of a computer or holding their phones. People want the familiar and the comfortable.


  • Form a team to help. That team may be two people, and that may be enough. Have someone else (not your worship leader) run the computer and handle technical issues.


  • Rehearse! Even if it’s 30 minutes before you go live, practice! You will find things you didn’t think about. Nothing kills the moment worse than congregants watching you mess around trying to fix stuff. Oh, and by the way, start on time!



Resources You Can Use
Here’s a great list of online church resources from PRC-Practical Resources for Churches.  
Using a cell phone and Facebook for livestreaming, check out https://thecrg.org/resources/introduction-to-live-streaming  
A guide to using Facebook Live can be found here: https://www.thecrg.org/resources/how-to-use-facebook-live-the-ultimate-guide

This article first appeared at https://ejewishphilanthropy.com/virtual-worship/

For The CRG Created For The CRG
4 Questions Before Redesigning Your Website

Websites are the “front door” for congregations, and having a web presence is no longer optional. Visitors often search for a new church home online. Savvy congregations even use their websites to gather information from people.


Investing the right resources in a website can help your congregation attract new visitors and better interact with members. Ask yourself these questions before jumping into your website project.



  • What is our budget?

  • What are our goals for the website? Examples: To share information, gather new information, reach new people, interaction, advertise, etc.

  • Who will maintain the site and can they devote enough time to this work?

  • Based on who will be maintaining the site, what type of training do we need?


Considering those questions will help you find the right web-solution for your congregation.


For more info about website strategy, start with the article Designing Your Congregation’s Website.  You can also read What Makes A Good Church Website to learn smart tips from other congregations.


Books
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More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (No Matter What They Say)
This memoir of a biracial woman shares the lessons learned as she navigated the business world and the life trials.
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Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
This grace-filled book calls white Christians to recognize that well-intentioned actions perpetuate racial divides if leaders aren’ t proactive about bridging the ethnic gap.
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Dare to Lead
This book by Brene Brown shares research about brave leadership, four skills to lead boldly, and how to create a courageous organizational culture.
Articles
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Online Giving Options for Congregations and Synods
This guide outlines factors to consider when deciding how to offer online giving for your congregation.
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5 of the Best Church Online Giving Platforms
This article compares online giving platforms in a format that’ s easy to read and understand.
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Black and Latino Startup Churches Work to Stay Afloat During Pandemic
This article highlights congregations of color that revolutionized urban ministry during the COVID-19 health crisis.
Web Resources
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ChurchSalary: A Service of Church Law and Tax
This searchable database for congregations with paid staff contains information on salary levels, retirement, and debt calculators.
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Introduction to Live Streaming
This engaging webpage offers simple steps and video tutorials to start streaming your worship service on Facebook.
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Coronavirus Resources for the Church
The Wheaton College Human Disaster Institute offers a streamlined resource page for congregations to address the unique challenges of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Organizations
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Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
This center offers worship resources such as grants, events, online tools for worship planning, and Spanish language resources.
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FaithInkubators
This organization provides curricula and tools that help congregations equip parents to be the primary teachers/shapers in the formation of their children’ s faith.
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GenOn Ministries
This organization provides a wide range of services and curricula to foster faith development, lifelong disciples, and intergenerational relationships.
Media
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Virtual Shabbat Box
Ideal for congregants at home or at a distance, these video and audio clips engage the senses as healing rituals.
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Cross+Gen Life
This multi-curricula uses the Faith5 framework to build intergenerational relationships.
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What Manner of Woman
This 15-minute documentary celebrates black women, explains Womanist Theology, and highlights women’ s historic contributions to freedom and Liberation Theology.
Periodicals
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RELEVANT Magazine
Since 2002, RELEVANT Media Group has published RELEVANT magazine, intended to speak to Christians in their 20s and 30s about how God is relevant to every aspect of culture.
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Generations
In this bi-monthly online magazine issue of Net Results, readers will find a number of related themes around the topic of Generations.
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National Association for Temple Administration (NATA) Journal
The National Association for Temple Administration (NATA) is an active professional network of Reform Jewish Synagogue Executive Directors that publishes a twice-yearly journal with articles written by members and Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) staff, topics include: collaboration, giving, communication (including social media), technology, and leadership transition.
Events
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Wild Goose Festival
This event is part outdoor music festival, part retreat, and part justice conference. It brings speakers and performers from across the theological spectrum, and hosts interactive workshops.
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Amplify Conference
This three-day conference is focused on reimagining evangelism in a local setting, and features keynote speakers and workshops on Church Planting, Emerging Leaders, and Justice and Evangelism.
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Festival of Homiletics
This conference offers extensive workshop options, speakers, and lectures focused on examining and celebrating the practices of preaching and worship.
Software
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WeShare: Online Giving for Churches and Other Community Organizations
This company makes online donation software that can be used with computers, tablets, and smartphones, and through credit cards, debit cards, or electronic transfer of funds.
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SecureGive
This customizable giving platform provides many giving and reporting options for large congregations.
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eGive
This online donation software includes a variety of giving options to make it easy for congregants to donate.
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