This week, Governor Mike DeWine issued a “Stay at Home” order as Ohio tries to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Under this order, churches and places of worship are not prohibited from gathering. However, it is Citizens for Community Values (CCV) and the governor’s strong recommendation that during this time, your church does not meet in person. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fellowship!
To help your church “move online” during the coronavirus crisis, CCV has worked with multiple local churches to put together this list of helpful ideas and resources.
The list below provides recommendations and resources to help your church address four key areas:
- Streaming Sunday Services Online
- Accepting Tithes and Offerings Online
- Hosting Online Small Groups/Bible Studies
- Using Digital Kids’ Ministry Resources
1) Streaming Sunday Services Online
Pastors who livestream their services are sharing their sermons and sometimes worship time through a live video feed.
- Camera (an iPhone can do the trick)
- Microphone (usually included in camera, but another may be preferable)
- Internet access.
Online Resources for Broadcasting Video
The Church Online Platform provides a free online streaming platform for churches to broadcast their sermons. It also has a number of other useful tools to help you interact with your church online.
Churches will have to create their own YouTube channel before they are able to live-stream their services. (Here are Google’s instructions for creating a YouTube channel). Here is a helpful how-to guide for live-streaming on YouTube.
- Zoom – Free if the gathering has 100 or fewer people and only if it lasts 40 minutes or less.
- Vimeo – Costs $75/month for a premium account, and through their service “Livestream,” you can share your video simultaneously to their church’s website and Facebook Live. It’s a little more technical, but can provide more outlets for people to access your sermon.
- Live – Costs start at $35/month. Another online service to broadcast your sermon on multiple channels.
NOTE: Live-streaming, as opposed to sharing a recorded sermon after the fact, does run the risk of internet connectivity or other technological issues. If those issues arise, your congregants could miss what’s happening. If churches do pursue live-streaming, they might also want to record the sermon (on a second device) to distribute later as needed.
Tips on Livestreaming your Sermon:
NOTE: When sharing video recordings online, be aware that sharing copyrighted material (such as worship songs) could violate the law.
2) Accepting Tithes and Offerings Online
There are many third-party online giving platform – keep in mind that these sites will take a small portion of each gift as a processing fee (usually between 1% – 3%). Many also allow users to tithe through smartphone apps and even text message.
Here are a few platforms churches might consider using:
People can also give directly through their bank accounts through these services, which has a lower transaction fee. Or they can speak with their bank to have the bank issue a one time or recurring donation to your church, that typically does not take any fee.
3) Hosting Online Small Groups/Bible Studies
A “Stay at Home” order doesn’t need to keep you from your church family! Many Ohio churches are utilizing services like those we mentioned above under livestreaming to also meet in smaller groups to read the Word, share prayer requests, and just “be together.”
Think of it as a small group conference meeting.
4) Using Digital Kids’ Ministry Resources
It can be overwhelming to imagine how to do kids’ church at home. But online options for children’s ministry abound.
Check out this really helpful post from Ministry-to-Children about ways to design your at-home kids’ ministry.
There are several kids’ ministry content resources, and many have loosened their licensing requirements during the coronavirus crisis, including:
- Worship House Kids – includes songs, games, and full curriculum
- The Bible App for Kids – a smartphone app that includes interactive videos and Bible illustrations (kids are prompted to touch the screen and “play along” during the stories)
- Saddleback Church in California puts its Kids’ Videos on Youtube for free!
- Skit Guys – these are funny and informative skits that can be used for sermon illustrations or youth ministry
- Minno Kids – includes lots of full episodes of Christian TV shows for kids (think Veggie Tales, Owlegories, etc.)
- Children’s Ministry Deals – a one-stop shop for dozens of kids’ ministry curriculum
Aside from kids’ content, there are lots of general resources for churches looking for kids’ ministry ideas and support, including:
This resource is designed to help churches navigate the Coronavirus crisis. While not comprehensive, the purpose is to give churches free or low-cost recommendations to stay connected. Thank you to all the churches and leaders who contributed to this guide, especially Jared Williamson at Grove City Nazarene, Chris Quinn at Princeton Pike Church of God, Jack McClintock at Grace and Peace Productions, Joel Murray at Living Word Church, and Adam Kennedy at Good News Church.