COVID-19 / peer learning groups

Don’t abandon video calls for church meetings after the pandemic is over

By Laura Stephens-Reed

Working at home is hard. Being on Zoom for multiple hours a day makes us want to tear out our hair. The fatigue that comes from seeing our own camera view and adjusting our faces accordingly is real.

Don’t be so quick to kick video calls to the curb once we can all re-gather, though. Sure, you won’t want to be online for everything anymore. We will all need (crave!) opportunities to connect in person. But there are lots of advantages to keeping meetings on Zoom/Google Meet/Microsoft Teams, or at least going with a hybrid model (some participants meeting in person, others joining remotely):

Parents of young children are more likely to participate. For years more seasoned church members have lamented that parents won’t join committees, all the while neglecting to offer childcare or adjust meeting schedules around little kids’ bedtimes. If parents can join from home (or the soccer field, or the car as they wait for their child to finish a piano lesson), though, you might finally get their gifts and perspectives.

Older adults might be more likely to join in. Many people don’t like to drive after dark. If they are willing to navigate an online meeting platform – as so many have learned to do this year – they can lend their vast wisdom to committees that gather in the evening.

Weather won’t be a factor. Did it snow a foot overnight? No need to call off the meeting if it’s scheduled for Zoom.

Travel will be less of a factor. While people might not want to interrupt their vacations with a church meeting, they might be willing to hop on a call if they’re on a work trip.

Quieter people can contribute more. The chat feature of online meeting platforms is the introvert’s friend.

Meetings are more likely to stay within time limits. This ultimately depends on the meeting’s facilitator, of course. But there are fewer side conversations on Zoom, and breakout discussions can be forced to end by the host.

Consider, then, putting Zoom meetings on the list of changes we were forced to make this year yet want to keep.

Laura Stephens-Reed is Peer Learning Group Regional Director for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. She also serves as a clergy coach and congregational consultant.

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