During these times of crisis, people need the church more than ever. But this pandemic is preventing churches from meeting in person. Thanks to technological advancements, there are options available for us to communicate and share the gospel online, ensuring that your congregation won’t miss this Sunday’s Word of God while also remaining safe in their homes. Along with Sunday services, many staff meetings and small groups are also taking place online. Those groups require certain online features that allow for live online interaction between individuals.
Two of the most well-known online communication tools for that sort of thing are Zoom and Google Hangouts, which both make it possible for people to interact and conduct different meetings online through video conferencing. Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses, and one service may be a better fit for your church’s needs. Which would work best for your church?
Zoom is a cloud-based video communication platform that offers people an easy-to-use tool for virtual meetings and conferences. Its features include HD voice and video calls, simultaneous screen sharing, recording, group messaging, and integrated scheduling. The pros of Zoom are that the people using it can see each other in addition to seeing the person hosting the call, allowing other people the opportunity to conduct certain parts of the meeting —readings, prayers, etc. Participants may join a Zoom meeting either by using their web-based platform or by downloading the Zoom software. Members of the church without access to high-speed internet may participate through a cell or landline phone call, but will only have audio, so leaders should be mindful of them. With a basic, free Zoom account, the host will be able to cater to up to 100 participants, and the duration of the call would last up to 40 minutes.
They also offer paid plans, which include additional features. At $14.99/mo/host, the meeting duration is extended to 24 hours. Also, that includes further user management where Owners and Admins can manage their users by adding, deleting, and assigning roles. It also allows you to run usage reports to see how many meetings are taking place within your group, which days, number of participants, number of meeting minutes, and more. If you need more participants, they have the Large Meeting add-on that allows you to have up to 1,000 participants and comes in different price ranges.
Google Hangouts is Google’s enterprise video conferencing software, allowing for integration with Gmail and G Suite accounts. On a Google Hangouts call, a maximum of 10 participants can speak and share their HD video at once.
Google recently announced that users who subscribe to their Education services are now allowed to use their advanced Google Hangouts tools, which enables video hangouts of up to 250 participants and access to the video call through live-streaming to up to 100,000 people. If your concern is the number of participants, Google Hangouts can handle your needs. Participants first need to have or set up a Google Mail account to join the call.
Both Zoom and Google Hangouts are great softwares that are used by many. They could be effective tools to facilitate church staff meetings, small groups, church-wide devotionals, etc. If you plan on hosting any events of that sort during this pandemic, Zoom and Google Hangouts are what you’re looking for.