More Information Technology

book
How to Reach and Engage your Congregation in a Digital World: The Pastor's Guide to Live Video Streaming
Written by a live stream vendor, this short e-book explains how to easily stream worship and how it’ s beneficial.
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Principles for Online Ritual Design
This practical guide helps congregants create their own sacred spaces and rituals from home or far away.
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Seder2020
This clearinghouse for virtual seders allows you to create your own or join another.
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How to Livestream for Free: A Quick Solution for Churches
This short article outlines how to stream with Free Online Church and links to other important online worship information.
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How to Use Facebook Live: The Ultimate Guide
Written by marketers, this comprehensive article has step-by-step instructions to use Facebook Live and make compelling videos on your desktop or phone.
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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.
For The CRG Created For The CRG
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/

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Concerning COVID-19
This website provides guidelines for compassionate congregations during a crisis, instructions for live streaming and mass messaging, plus creative worship and faith formation resources.
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Resource List for Online Church
Written during COVID-19, this succinct guide quickly empowers congregations to transition to online platforms.
media
Virtual Shabbat Box
Ideal for congregants at home or at a distance, these video and audio clips engage the senses as healing rituals.
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.

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Is Your Church Using Social Media the Right Way?
This short article offers three specific principles for attracting and engaging worshippers.

Church Technology Resources

Leading congregations can thrive by meeting their members, attendees and visitors where they’re most comfortable. This can be better accomplished through technology resources. When looking at church technology resources, there are a few key points it may be helpful to bear in mind. Organizations may want to look into investing in good audio-video technology. Often shortened to “AV Tech”, this equipment ensures that everyone in the congregation is able to hear and see what's happening. Even though most places of worship are large rooms which tend to echo well, people located at the back of the room might still have a hard time hearing what’s taking place. Therefore, a good set of speakers can do wonders in helping make sure that those people located in the back are able to remain involved. Many congregations have incorporated videos into their sermons successfully, as well. Of course, even with the addition of a single video screen, those people located in the back and around the room might still have a hard time seeing it - in which case, it can be helpful to split up the video feed and make sure there are multiple screens available. That way, the entire congregation will be able to more easily follow the session. Finally, congregations might also note that there could be people located in other rooms during the service, such as a child room. These people deserve to remain involved as well, when it comes to the local sermon. To answer this, leaders can think about how they might use technology to keep these people involved. Ultimately, the goal of all of these technological devices is to allow everyone to participate in the sermon as much as possible - and so, congregation tech leaders may want to think about how many people are going to be paying attention, what their sermons are going to be like, and what the feedback they have received from their congregation. With all this in mind, they can begin making good decisions when it comes to their weekly sermons.

Church Media Systems

Congregations can make smart use of media systems to keep people involved. Today, the expectations of congregation members can be higher than before, which may make it a good idea for congregations to be sure they are able to use these media systems effectively to keep people involved. This includes audio, video, and other advanced media systems. In addition to sermons, they can also think about how they can use these systems to hold small group activities and training sessions. When it comes to church media systems, one thing you may want to consider is how many people are going to be involved. For example, if a congregation has a lot of worshippers, you may want to think about where you are going to position door speakers and whether you should incorporate multiple video screens. This can also be helpful if you are trying to feed audio and video signals from the main hall and two smaller rooms during small group sessions. This is where church media jobs can be helpful. When it comes to a church media job description, there are many congregations out there which have young adult and teenage members who might want to gain some experience in terms of information technology work, making this a great opportunity for these groups to engage younger members and keep them involved. Additionally, group leaders can refer to a church media ministry handbook for more information. By taking a look at one of these handbooks, they will be able to learn more about how they can use media to enhance their small group activities and training sessions, and do everything they can to keep the members of their congregation involved. This is just one of the many ways in which media technology can be so helpful.

Church Tech Leaders

When it comes to the leadership structure of a congregation, there are many people involved. For instance, there will usually be a senior pastor, multiple other pastors, church staff, board members, small group leaders, and more. One position that is becoming increasingly important is the congregation technology leader. The reason why these tech leaders are so important is that technology and congregational growth go hand-in-hand. In order for these groups to survive, one key thing they can do is ensure that they are able to effectively reach out to the congregational community, as well as the neighboring local community. While word-of-mouth can help in growing a group, technology is much more powerful. Media/tech may play a strong role in reaching out to engage the congregation, as well as members of the community to encourage them to participate. Using church tech ministry and having good church tech leaders to grow a congregation can be very effective. There are lots of people who are members of a local congregation that might not have much knowledge on using technology in this way, so putting people who have experience with technology in leadership positions within the community can also be a likely good move. This way, congregations will be able to rest assured in knowing that they are doing everything they can using platforms such as email, social media, and other electronic announcements to keep people involved. As society evolves, congregations want to evolve with it, to remain relevant to people’s lives. This is where technology plays an important role in helping connect people. For instance, congregations could look into embracing platforms like social media if they would like to remain relevant. To do this, they might first make sure that there is a reliable technology leader within the local congregation available who can advise people on issues related to the various platforms.

Technology in Ministry

Focusing on how technology plays a role in ministry might be a worthwhile initiative to research and implement in a congregation. By embracing the latest trends when it comes to technology in ministry, congregations and churches will be able to reach out to their members, visitors and attendees more efficiently. Ministry technology is often used for technical record keeping, like to back up files and donation records. This security is imperative to help take care of this confidential information.Technology in church ministry also plays a role when it comes to email listservs. This is a great way to communicate and stay in touch with other members on the leadership team, as well as members of the congregation. In regards to ministry tech, congregations can also use this advanced technology to communicate with potential vendors. If there is a renovation or a large food order coming up, for instance, it is much easier to approach by using church management software. This is one of the most important applications of ministry technology. For example, this is a great way for a group to do their homework on potential vendors before paying for a certain service. When congregations are able to successfully embrace technology, it greatly improves the quality of their ministry.

Worship Technology

Worship technology is another avenue that may be worth looking into. By checking out worship technology resources, it is easier for congregational leaders to get an idea of how they can leverage technology to improve the quality of their worship services. The first step is quality. The congregational technology team might want to make sure they look into advanced internet connections that are strong enough to do the job needed. If they are going to do virtual worship sessions, it may build more confidence if they are sure that they can broadcast these worship sessions without breaking up using a broadband internet connection. Second, congregations might also consider investing in strong videoconferencing technology. With this technology,, members of their congregation will be able to log in and be active participants during sermons. And finally, groups can also think about the sound system. Given that music is an integral part of many worship sessions, taking steps to ensure that the music sounds good using videoconferencing technology can be a great idea. This is yet another area in which having a church technological leader can be helpful.

Church Technology Ideas

There are other ways congregations can embrace technology, as well. By taking a closer look at the benefits of technology in groups, through a team discussion of a church technology book or an article from a church sound magazine, for example, it can become easier to create a congregation technology plan that will benefit the whole group moving forward. For instance, congregations will want to create their own website. As one of the top church technology ideas out there, this is a great way for the congregation to show others that it is embracing modern technology and creating a place to engage members, attendees and visitors, as well as the local community. It might also be helpful to use advanced technology to hold children’s classes and virtual youth groups. And while many congregations offer Sunday school, it might be easier to hold these classes virtually. By doing so, groups will be able to keep in touch with their younger members and provide a strong base for future growth. These are just a few of the top ideas to consider when it comes to thinking in terms of churches and technology. For congregations to keep pace with modern society, it may be good for group leaders to think about the idea of embracing technology and using it during their worship services.
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