Faith Formation ONLINE
Many folks are wondering how faith formation happens in a coordinated effort while remaining socially distanced from one another. Well, the tools to gather online have certainly existed for quite some time. Now, we get to make use of them.
Please note, these applications can be run via your web browser, or through an app on your smartphone.
For one-way communications: “REMIND” application
When you want to get messages out to your folks, announcement-style, the consensus is that the app REMIND is the best way to go. Many schools use this application to blast announcements and reminders. (Hence, the name.)
Feature: You can create “classes” like you would for small groups or to split your youth group into middle school and high school; or to separate your Adult Sunday School classes from the Congregation Council, or the Women of the ELCA circles. And any group you put together, you can split those folks into smaller groups, as needed. All kinds of ways to get creative with this.
You can also control whether or not folks can reply to your messages. Most folks just use REMIND to send out messages to folks’ phones. Typically, if they are looking for interaction we recommend another application…
Go to https://www.remind.com/ to get started. Remember it is FREE!
For texting conversations: “GroupMe” application
GroupMe is a wonderful application that allows you to set up your contacts into groups, and is very much about developing conversations. You can use this application to send reminders, but GroupMe allows for sending pictures, taking polls, and much more. Just like Remind, you can use the app for your smartphone to drive this, or you can log into your account via your web browser. Also, with GroupMe, you can directly message one individual or the group.
Go to https://groupme.com/en-US/ to get started! Yes, it’s free, as well.
When you are looking for that small group feel, but have to be isolated, we recommend meeting via Zoom or Google Meet. On our synod website for Online Resources, we share how you can sign up for and create a gathering via Zoom. You can find that page here: https://www.elca-ses.org/online-worship-resources.
While that page says “Worship Resources,” Zoom can be used for so much more, like your youth group or children’s gatherings, or adult Sunday School classes or book studies. Go to the synod web page in the last paragraph to find the basics, as well as some tips and tricks for using Zoom.
So, if you decide to use Zoom, please know that you can set up pretty much all the small group spaces you need. You can meet at separate times (with separetly scheudled meetings) to hold a “Middle School” and a “High School” group separate from one another, for example. However, if you wish for EVERYONE to meet at the same time in one schedule meeting, you can use the Breakout Rooms feature. Breakout Rooms will allow for folks to gather in large group, share greetings and receive instruction, then break out into virtual small groups. For Adult Sunday School, you know how sometimes you ask folks to turn to their neighbors to discuss some questions? Same concept. Use Breakout Rooms to allow deeper conversations, then the host of the meeting can close out the virtual small group rooms to bring everyone back togehter for sharing.
Click HERE for the link with instructions on how to setup Zoom Breakout Rooms.
No matter what platform you are using, be sure to safeguard your online gathering space. You want as many people as possible to SEE your link to your online gathering, but we have seen predatory practices from some folks that can sabotage your online meeting space. Click here to see what that is all about. And note: this is not just for Zoom, but for any online meeting platform: https://www.elca-ses.org/files/documents+%26+brochures/training+docs/zoombombing+-++why+you+should+care+and+what+you+can+do.pdf
Fear not. You are most likely not going to get taken over by someone, but just to be safe...consider these safety practices before it happens.