Poulsbo Church Uses Zoom For More Social Gathering Time And Sees Benefits
by TJ McCue
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Poulsbo Adventist Church offered two “church services” -- one traditional and one very Zoomish.
The Poulsbo Church leadership team uses a paid Zoom account to conduct its main church service, but it has also initiated what they call “Second Service” so that members can have time to see each other, to have time to pray together, or to just stay and chat.
The second service is not a “service” really, but a time to hang out and chit chat, share thoughts, other prayer requests or needs, or just laugh together. It is what normally happens after church or potluck. It’s a bit crazy, light-hearted, and people come and go during it.
The church Zoom team simply invites people to stay and mingle and it can sometimes last for another three hours.
(The North American Division arranged for a discount on paid Zoom accounts at the start of the pandemic. This allows for longer sessions than the 40-minute limit in the free account version.)
During this Second Service, members are encouraged to come and go, perhaps to make or get lunch and then come back and sit with the group. Often, the conversation will turn to what someone is having for lunch with discussions about how it was made or special preparations. Sometimes, the conversation will focus on another member’s situation and a mini prayer effort will begin for a few minutes.
Each week varies, but most members abide by some basics that they call “Zoom Courtesies” which reminds members that everyone is going through this challenging time and to be sensitive to others. For example, just a few from about a dozen tips:
- Avoid hogging the microphone and hopping up on a soapbox around a particular issue.
- Try to keep your phone or tablet still as smaller device cameras show the movement and can literally make some folks feel “seasick.”
- If you are not talking, mute your mic as it presents unwanted background noise from causing others to not be able to hear well.
In this time it is particularly important to give people a chance to meet and talk as it may be one of their only times to do so.
As people have grown more comfortable with the idea of video calls, Poulsbo has found that people really enjoy the opportunity to share what is happening in their lives and to connect on a deeper level. They have also encouraged others to form small groups via Zoom and to connect at other times, with quite a few doing that for Bible studies and other types of meetings.
They expect to continue using Zoom even after phasing back in-person services and finding creative ways to use this platform.
Zoom definitely helps Poulsbo members to feel the love of fellow members and to connect each week.