Staying Connected Offline

13 Apr 2020 by Dapto Secretary in: Feeds and Blogs

Staying Connected Offline

Love One Another

Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

It’s been amazing to see the creative ways people have organised to share worship online – but not everyone can so easily access the technology and some of us just need a break from technology.

From Rev. Dr Judy Redman, Supply Minister, St Andrew’s Uniting Church Yarrawonga

Many people attend church services as much for the social interaction as for the worship. Being in the same space as other people and singing together is different to singing along with the people on the screen. Even listening to a sermon is different when you’re not in the same place as the preacher – and the internet provides many distractions that aren’t available in the pew.

Having something in place that people can access when they normally attend worship is a good idea, but this doesn’t have to be what you normally do on Sunday. Some forms of worship will translate online better than others, and some people have better tech resources.

Why not ask people, perhaps via anonymous questionnaire so they will be honest, before putting too much time, effort and other resources into attempting to replicate the face-to-face experience.

In thinking about how to make things available to my congregation, I’ve been reading about how to live streaming and upload pre-recorded worship, but it occurred to me that some, at least, of our members might find something other than live streamed services more helpful and supportive. Here are some options for people offline.

  • Most people who don’t have computers do have CD players, so offering audio CDs of current services that you are live-streaming or ‘back copies’ if you normally provide recordings to shut-ins might be possible, if it isn’t logistically too taxing.
  • Encourage members to ring a friend to pray  
  • People might find praying out loud over the phone uncomfortable. You might like to talk about prayer points together or begin the conversation with “let’s talk about what we want to pray about” and once each person has agreed they have nothing else to pray about, finishing with “God, hear our prayer”. Remind people about confidentiality.
  • Set up a ‘contact carers’ program which involves 
  • assigning one or two people who want to be connected to members who are willing to contact others regularly by phone.
  • Set up an expectation that the phone call will last 5-15 minutes.
  • Suggest a format for the call: 
  • How has your week been?
  • Last time we talked, you said X. How did that go?
  • Today, I’m thankful for Y. How about you?
  • If it’s realistic for you to offer, Is there anything you need that I can help with?
  • If you are concerned about the person you are ringing, say so and encourage them to contact a member of the pastoral care team or ask if you can do that on their behalf (this is the less preferable option). Do not do this without their agreement unless you are concerned that they might harm themselves or someone else.

Judy has also provided a helpful sheet on the Five Ways to Wellbeing

From Rev. Patty Lawrence, Broken Bay Uniting Church Minister

Sharing faith and worship resources

Each week there will be a bulletin sent to everyone in the Parish, either by post, hand delivery to letterbox or email, it will include:

  • a reflection on the reading for the week.
  • our regular prayer points
  • some prayer resources for use each day – we will start the Holy week readings on 1 April with the entry into Jerusalem.
  • a list of online places to worship for those with internet access
  • the first weekly bulletin will include information on praying The Examen. Other weeks I will include some other prayer resources people may not have tried before.

Staying connected

  • As many people here are used to having lots of weekly activities, like bowls and probus, I am planning some activities; like a photo challenge, writing exercises, making and sending notes to people in their street or people they know.
  • I am encouraging people to phone a friend to share daily prayers together, this may be praying together some of the resources I send out, free prayer or the Lord’s Prayer.

The Church Council Executive and I decided not to offer streaming of Sunday Worship. Other churches are offering this, and we are encouraging those who can to take this opportunity to participate in different styles of worship.

Patty also re-shared these ideas from Gungahlin Uniting Church on #randomactsofconnection

  • Have a street art competition every month, every house has to decorate their driveway.
  • Leave messages of hope on the footpath in chalk
  • Give cuttings of plants (succulents are dead easy) or seeds and pots of potting mix away for people to grow in their house.
  • Leave poetry in everyone’s letter box every week.
  • Loan books from your shelf out to each other.
  • Make cards, write to people and use snail mail.
  • Video chat
  • Offer to walk people’s pets
  • Offer to shop for people who may be isolating
  • Offer tutoring assistance (over video or audio of course)

For those who are looking at recording or live-streaming, Judy offered the following helpful suggestions.

  • People might feel foolish reading responses to their computer screens, so rather than having a leader and expecting the ‘congregation’ to read responses, have two people reading alternate sections, with feeling! I would be trying to get male and female voices.
  • Use *good* readers who put expression into the biblical texts. The New Testament texts were written to be read out loud by a designated literate person to a largely illiterate audience. The designated reader would practice the text out loud before performing it to a community gathering.
  • If you don’t have fairly competent musicians, consider using recordings of other people (check copyright) – and accept that most people probably won’t sing along so perhaps you can use more difficult pieces.
  • Encourage engagement with the sermon and the readings.
  • Consider talking briefly about each reading and encouraging people to reflect on them themselves – perhaps using an online forum (your Facebook page, a Zoom room, the comments under YouTube videos) or writing it down, talking to someone else in their house, phoning a friend…
  • If you want to draw themes out of several readings and do a sermon, still encourage people to engage by asking questions that are not just rhetorical at several points.
  • If it’s recorded rather than live, encourage people to hit pause while they think.
  • Provide a list of reflection points that people can do by themselves or discuss with others – this would need to be downloadable
  • Is there an activity you can suggest that participants might do during the week – again with interactive options, and perhaps downloadable?
  • Encourage people to think about things they’d like to pray about – especially things they are thankful for. Maybe they can email them in during the week for inclusion
  • I would also try to get feedback about how people respond to the engagement bits.