Remote Meeting Software
There can be many different board/committee meetings in our churches in any given month. Do all of these require each member to participate in person? Sometimes the answer is, no. By implementing a smart video conferencing solution, churches can not only save money, but time as well. Video conferencing is also a great solution for small groups, and bible studies. While we’re unable to meet in person we can remain connected to one another and study the word together.
*Disclaimer – There are many different video conferencing solutions out there. Some of them are marketed toward the corporate/enterprise side – others are consumer oriented. I’m going to highlight three vendors below that offer are smart, easy to use, and easy to implement for most churches.
Zoom is a platform agnostic remote video conferencing solution available for free (with restrictions). A discounted version of Zoom is also available when registered organizations purchase a Zoom Pro subscription through Techsoup. With Zoom you have the ability to create online meetings with your volunteers to have anyone join from anywhere. No more finding the perfect time, finding a big enough space, or hoping people show up. Zoom works on all tablets, smartphones, and computers — and you can even dial in from a landline for audio only conferencing. The free basic subscription is currently limited to 100 people per call, and 40 minute per conference bridge. If you need more time I highly recommend purchasing the pro license through Techsoup. With Zoom you have a new way to get everyone on the same page and keep your volunteers, staff, and small groups up to date.
Google Hangouts, the private version, allows for face-to-face meetings of up to 10 people for free. This allows you to download the app and get up and running in no time. Hangouts can also be accessed via any web browser by visiting: https://hangouts.google.com/. Hangouts is a great solution for small group study, youth group check ins, and quick staff meetings. Because of its mobile friendly approach Hangouts is an easy solution to use that allows collaboration when you need something fast.
Hangouts Meet is available within Google gSuite for nonprofits (after registering through Techsoup) which is an enhanced version of Hangouts. In a nutshell, Hangouts will remain the consumer product, and Hangouts Meet will contain functions and features more suited toward businesses. Hangouts Meet increases the attendee limit to 100-250 users and is very comparable to Zoom. If you’re fully invested in the gSuite tools for your church Hangouts Meet is a no-brainer.
Skype is the more household friendly name out of the two competitors mentioned above. It makes sense; Skype has been around since 2003. Signing up is free, fast, and simple. Users can access the Skype call from many different platforms including their traditional computer, mobile, or tablet based operating systems. Skype recently raised the limits on how many users can join a call to 50; helping facilitate collaboration for larger groups when they need it. However, there are some drawbacks to this free software. There are additional subscription charges for unlimited worldwide calling, SMS, or calls to cellphones. If you’re using Office 365 Skype is being replaced… more on that below.
Teams is the future of “Skype for Business”. SFB is being phased out this year, and Microsoft Teams is the replacement. If the church is registered through Microsoft for nonprofits (and also Techsoup), then Microsoft Teams is included within your Office 365 subscription. Teams deeply integrates with OneDrive, Outlook, and all of Microsoft’s suite of products to create a seamless chat/video collaboration software.
Ministry is changing. How we communicate within ministry must change as well. Now more then ever we’re pressed to stay connected when we can’t physically meet together. By using one of these solutions listed above we can maintain connection to our existing ministry team, enable leaders to reach out, and build new relationships forging a new path forward.