Technology offers us stunning reach out into the community and world. But, it’s often overwhelming because tech changes faster than a sprinter runs at the Olympics. But if we want our churches to grow and the newest generations to join us in faith community, we need to embrace the technology they’re familiar and comfortable with using. Many social media platforms are one-way streets. Post, wait for response, repeat. Yes, we’re supposed to watch everyone we know and comment, like, share…it gets exhausting. What about the constant need for travel, both local and distance? There’s only so much time. But ministry leaders can be compared to business owners. The job is never done—and that’s why we’re all exhausted. Enter Google Hangouts (and similar video conference platforms). Even if it wasn’t a great ministry tool, it’ll save you hours of driving for the rest of your career. But it is a great ministry tool!
Google Hangouts, the private version, allows for face-to-face meetings of up to 10 people for free. A wonderful way to solve the extra 30+ minutes most folks drive to a local meeting. But also excellent for national or international meetings. The platform has a chat bar and the ability to show your desktop for documents and training. Love using this for the Christian Authors Network board meetings!
Another purpose for Google Hangouts is the public version, called On Air. This is a live video conference (free as well) that allows the presenter to have multiple other presenters, switch screens to show the person speaking, see the group on the other side of the conversation, share your screen, videos from Youtube, chat bar, and an ability to set the meeting up in advance in order to invite others to attend. Yes, there’s a short learning curve. But if it takes an hour to learn how to use Google Hangouts On Air, and it saves you the constant drive time, and you can meet from anywhere internet is available—time saver, problem solver!
I’ve written several books. But with the latest release, The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection from Barbour Publishing, Google Hangouts On Air became the solution for an online book club. It’s been very popular. Now a 2nd store has set up this form of video conference. Why? With a little training, the videos happen live with no expense toward travel. You can liken it to a simulcast. Even more exciting is that the videos will record to your Youtube channel for free as well. Once the video is on Youtube, it’s easy to set up a special “play list”. One of the best things about recording to Youtube is that the video can be downloaded, edited, excerpts to be used for training, encouragement, reference, and yes, marketing. Regardless, you now have Youtube videos! That’s definitely smart allocation of social media time!
Think application. Consider Bible studies. Some form naturally while other people really struggle whether it’s work schedules, illness, temporarily being away from home, and military service to name a few hurdles to regular group or personal Bible study time. What if you were to set up Bible studies, book clubs using wholesome material, shut-in services, military support services/Bible studies, or skills trainings using Google Hangouts On Air? How many people could be live at the time? How many people could watch as they’re schedules allow? The real life application doesn’t replace human touch. But it does offer human connection to the church when often there isn’t any. Remember to invite those watching to visit your church, if they’re in the area.
By using Google Hangouts (private as needed or On Air for public consumption) the expanded ministry reach is exponential. Try training a few key leaders to begin this type of outreach. The outreach is not only for church members who struggle to attend church and small group, but also for extended and distance members. Then be sure to add a Youtube channel to the Google+ account so it records all On Air (live) events to be readily accessible to anyone. Yes, it’s social media. Yes, it takes a short time to learn it. Yes, we can claim technology for ministry.
How do you start? Start asking in church for someone that might enjoy an exciting new ministry opportunity in social media. Let the young adults and teens help build it and become leaders while adults disciple them in leadership skills, the youth will help adults learn skills too. Be willing to have various people create several kinds of regular content including things like: Bible studies on regular nights that stream to a specific playlist on your Youtube channel, crafts like quilting/knitting/cooking/pet training that stream to another playlist, life skill training like accounting/car care/literacy/etc. for yet another playlist, and record sermons for those who have to miss them for travel/military service/shut-ins. Another possibility for churches with open altar communion is to serve via Hangout. Consider talking about prayer and teaching how to pray, how to study the Bible, how to form a small group, how to minister in your community…
There are unlimited ways to use Google Hangouts. Be creative, flexible, and willing to build it a playlist at a time. People will catch on. Give it time to get comfortable.
- The Hangout attendees really want to know who you are. They want to find things in common with you. That’s how we build relationships.
- This is live. Things will go wrong. I tell people it’s like a wedding. It’s not the perfect things that make the awesome memories, it’s the things that go wrong that make us laugh and remember later. So have a sense of humor and be flexible.
- What if no one shows online? No problem. Record the talk or event anyway. That gives another video for the playlist. Some events lend themselves well to be a presentation. But do ask key people and your congregation to share it on their social media and do share it in church. Have several people set up to join online as you build the programming and then be sure everyone talks about it after on social media, around the community, and in church.
- Wear something you feel confident in and smile 🙂
- Find your camera. Look into it as much as you can because that’s how it will look like you’re looking into their eyes.
- Watch the other hangout videos. You’ll know what’s happening and feel more comfortable when it’s your turn. Honestly, people have a blast with this.
- Here’s a link to our Lassoed by Marriage Playlist on Youtube. This is an online book club. Online book clubs with local connection to a physical book club are fabulous ways to reach women with not only wholesome reading that supports faith, but also connecting women to friends. If they connect online, they might choose to come to church. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLflsX7062eroexqwsCfrdAju3yxphLfN5
- Put the info on your website, social media, and use the link to your video and the other author videos to help promote as you’re able.
9. If you have a newsletter, put something in it about the events. Especially if you send it monthly. You may choose to have a special column with the upcoming events and links.
- Once the first one is under your belt, it’s a breeze from there.
More places to learn:
Google Hangouts https://hangouts.google.com/
Google Hangouts On Air https://plus.google.com/hangouts/onair?hl=en
How to create a Hangout https://support.google.com/plus/answer/4386744?hl=en
Sample of an upcoming event schedule on my website: http://angelabreidenbach.com/lassoed-by-marriage-live-event/
Sample of a Youtube playlist (this is the online book club, just create one that makes sense for you) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLflsX7062eroexqwsCfrdAju3yxphLfN5
Angela Breidenbach is a bestselling author and the host of Grace Under Pressure Radio on iTunes. Angela serves nationally as the Christian Author Network’s (CAN) president. With a volume of appearances online, television, stage, and radio Angela loves to share her knowledge to help others. (And yes, she’s Writer in the Muse & Writer comedy duo on Facebook.)
She’s certified in peer counseling, youth ministry, life coaching, and Angela is also a professional book judge of nearly 1,000 titles and a best-selling author of sweet contemporary and historical romances as well as several non-fiction titles, articles, and compilations. The Debutante Queen, historical romance, (also on Audible); Eleven Pipers Piping, sequel to The Debutante Queen, (also on Audible); A Healing Heart, contemporary romance, (also on Audible); Grace Under Pressure, coming 2016, non-fiction partner to iTunes Grace Under Pressure Radio; Jan. 2016, Bridal Whispers in Barbour Publishing’s The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection; Feb. 2016, Taking the Plunge, historical romance, (also on Audible); Mar. 2016 Bitterroot Bride, historical romance, (also on Audible). Learn more by visiting her website AngelaBreidenbach.com, on Twitter and Pinterest at @AngBreidenbach or Facebook at facebook.com/AngelaBreidenbach.