Using technology to develop relationships


Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:23-25).

You’re not alone… We didn’t know how long this pandemic season would last. Day-by-day relationships build our perseverance in faith for the long haul. Today we’re going to refresh your approach to ministry.   Following are some ideas I discovered for pursuing relationships during an isolated time while polling the churches in the Midwest District.

Below are several tabs with ideas on how to pursue and maintain relationships through video and technology.  Have fun clicking through each of the tabs and let me know what ideas you’re going to try!

For more hands-on (but socially distance) ideas, read this post: COVID Relationship Resources.

If you want to set your ministry up for livestreaming, here are a few video setup packages from beginner to videographer-wannabe.

Video Meetings Reimagined

(ZOOM, 8×8, Skype, Google/Facebook)

There are challenges to leading ministry through video meetings.  Following are several ideas of how churches can use video meetings beyond the obvious for relationship sake. But first, some basics that you might be overlooking: The etiquette is still pretty raw.  I have found it best to give clear expectations of what to expect (and what you expect) at the beginning of the Zoom meeting/series.  For example:

  • Make sure you are in a quiet place in the house so we can hear you and you can hear us. Otherwise we recommend using earbuds with a mic.
  • Let’s pretend we’re really doing this in person. That means I’m still uncomfortable talking to you while you’re lounging on your bed in pajamas.  I wouldn’t visit with you that way if I were to come to your house.
  • There are real people with real feelings on the other side of the camera, so be kind with your words and opinions.
  • If you want to say something, but you’re unsure of when to speak up, just raise your hand. It’s an excellent visual cue since reading body language is more difficult on video meetings.
  • I really would love to see your face. Please consider leaving your video camera on.
  • I know not everyone is familiar or comfortable with the chat room, so I’ll read the relevant chats out loud so everyone can participate.

If you are working with a demographic that is resistant to these new-fangled ideas, you could offer private tutoring sessions to build their confidence before the actual ministry uses this platform to operate (Bible study, retreat, etc).  Churches who do this find greater participation in their virtual events, but recommend budgeting 3-5 sessions of “confidence building” before expecting attendance at a real event.

Note: If you would normally have a hospitality line item as part of this ministry, consider sending a hospitality box to the participant’s home.  Church Ministries did this for a training conference my husband signed up for. His “break box” included:

  • A packet of hot chocolate
  • A couple tea bags
  • A single-serve Starbucks instant drink mix
  • A package of microwave popcorn
  • A snack-size bag of chocolate chips
  • A snack-size bag of mixed nuts
  • A hard copy of the handout for that event

What can video meetings be used for? Yes, Bible studies, discipleship meetings, and workshops, but don’t limit it to information delivery.  I want you to remember that as long as it is called today don’t give up meeting together.  Don’t forget about their interests!  Children’s ministry directors are knocking it out of the park in this area, so let’s adapt their ideas for adults:

  • Ladies could log in at the same time to for their craft time (quilting, knitting, scrapbooking). They can chat while working, hold up their projects for all to admire, and just let the hour and conversation go where it wants to.
  • Use the mobile apps and ear buds for the more active and schedule a group walk. Share the scenery around you while you unpack the stress of your week.
  • Do you have someone gifted in the kitchen? Have them host a cooking show (psst… like the hospitality box, you could deliver all the ingredients needed for the recipe – especially for those who can’t get to the grocery store)!
  • Do a DIY project together – paint a canvas, assemble a wood project, make a fleece something-or-other, upcycle a common thrift store find. I know you have people in your church that do this stuff all the time, so ask them to put something together for a video meeting.  Even add a light devotional to this idea that fits the project theme.
  • Kids can do a craft event together with someone leading them through the steps; or as it gets warmer go dig around in the mud and share their discoveries with each other. Have them do physical challenges (who can do a wall sit the longest?).  One of my favorite ideas is to send them on a home scavenger hunt, giving them on item at a time (go find me something blue that fits in one hand; go find me something that will make me laugh; go find me your oldest toy).
  • Families can schedule to eat dinner at the same time.  It doesn’t have to be the same meal, but just sharing a meal time can generate fellowship.

What Good is Facebook?

The most important thing to do with Facebook is to be clear about its purpose, moderate it often, and respond to comments and posts.


A Facebook page for your church or ministry is most often used for people to find you, get basic information, and deliver general announcements.  Think of it like a mini-web site.  The relationship happens in a group, though.


Group members are invited by others and can be admitted manually after answering some questions and agreeing to the purpose of the group (this prevents the random people who have no connection to you from joining and protects the authenticity of the group).  This can be a women’s ministry group, a small group, a spiritual disciplines group, a young-at-heart group, etc.  I would not expect all the members of your church to be active here, so make sure you have clearly defined expectations of what the group is for. A Facebook group takes advantage of creating community where they already are.  There are several things you can do in a group:

  • Poll/survey for Bible study ideas
  • Get trusted recommendations for things relevant to that group (people love being helpful, so let them)
  • Group challenges (best staycation quarantine/walk the neighborhood/art competition) that they can post update pictures to
  • Share prayer requests and praises

Messenger group

I would recommend this be used for small circles of tight relationships (the ladies in a small group, a women’s ministry team, the elders of a church) be part of a messaging group.  It has a more immediate relationship feel than e-mail, and it’s easier to share quick information, photos, or voice clips with each other.  Usually there is a video chat feature built into the messaging app, which is handy when you need to cut to the chase.

As an international worker I created a messaging group with a select group of people to maintain relationship while I was away so I didn’t feel like we had to reexplain the last four years of our lives together.  We shared humorous things, where we are at any given moment, immediate prayer needs, haircut regrets, etc.  Thanks to this format I knew as much about them as they did about me.

Also consider whatsapp, Google Duo, Marco Polo, or plain old SMS text groups as a group messaging service.

Making Videos Relational

I think the difficult thing with videos is they have a tendency to be a one-way delivery device.  In focusing on building relationships, you have to be more intentional with your video content, but there are some great ways to use videos to build relationships.  For example, Beth Mason at South Asian Friendship Center used a YouTube video to announce an art competition among her quarantined after-school group.  She gave examples of what the art project would be and the parameters for the competition.  After the video aired, kids waited excitedly for their art supply box to arrive on their doorstep.  Instructions were included in the box, and the kids knew they had one week to finish their projects and get them back to the doorstep for Beth to collect.  In a follow-up, Beth reviewed all the projects and announced the winner – who got a prize!  A $10 gift card of their choice!

Here is the principal difference between video types, and some ideas on how to make them more relational rather than solely informational.


Livestream videos are like live broadcast – you turn your camera(s) on and whatever happens in front of the camera gets aired immediately to your chosen platform (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram).  Different equipment and software setups are included at the end of this inspiration guide.  Here are the relationship twists on how to use livestream videos:

  • Worship service – include time for the online attenders to interact with each other with the chat feature; it would be great if that could be facilitated from the main mic so that the in-person attenders and online attenders feel connected with each other.
  • Extra content during the week (midweek worship, devotional thoughts, good news too good to wait, build suspense for an upcoming event or announcement, updates on big projects…) – if people comment on these videos, make sure to respond to their comments!
  • Raw and authentic conversations (I just had a conversation with, and it made me think…). Video analytics show that these types of videos preform much better than preproduced videos with high quality editing.  People are hungry for real.

YouTube or Facebook Premieres & Podcasts

These are prerecorded videos that become available at a specified time.

  • Small group “watch parties” – These can be virtual (you share them to your personal Facebook page), but as people are comfortable meeting in trusted small groups (for health reasons), encourage them to gather as watch party in-person.
  • Include facilitated time during the video for these groups to interact with each other. Encourage them to send “caring for you” texts or write down a name of who they are going to call this week.
  • Allows you to incorporate video snippets from other people, such as testimonies, announcement slides, or virtual choirs “Brady Bunch” style – the more you incorporate others the higher your viewership because, frankly, people like to watch themselves and often times will invite others to watch them, too.
  • Participation assignments – like Beth’s art competition for South Asian Friendship Center (read above)
  • Podcasts take advantage of the people on the move, who are listening while they work, walk, and drive. What kind of conversations do you often have with people?  Why do they like to talk to you?  Are you funny?  Incorporate these things into your podcast.  Picture a specific person in your head and talk to them.  It will make everything seem more personal and relatable.

Planning Note: If you have not yet dabbled in making videos for YouTube or preparing podcasts, know that it will take hours.  Don’t be discouraged at the time investment if you have a great strategy behind the video or podcast; but know that it can take up to 3-5 hours of recording, retakes, editing, and posting for a 15 minute video, and an estimated 7 hours for an hour video. As Amber Marcello commented, “Good video editing is not always the program as much as it is casting a cohesive vision, having good transitions, letting people know what is happening next, and not getting super crazy with videoing and editing because it can get really distracting.”

Bloomingdale Church (videos)
South Asian Friendship Center (podcasts)
And more (listed with the tech setups below)

Private IP address

Videos get sent to a private IP address – which means only those with that link can see them through free software like VLC.  They aren’t housed on a social media channel, which means people who would prefer to avoid social media don’t need to have an account to watch your ministry content.  It’s helpful to have someone set it up on individual phones so that everything is ready to go when the need arises!  This is also important to have set up if you are hosting a missions conference with a worker from a Creative Access Country (CAC).

Wabash Alliance Church


Low Expertise

Camcorder on a tripod
HDMI cable
Video converter splitter

  1. Audio to sound board
  2. Video to another splitter
  3.  Sound board to the above splitter

HDMI cable
VeCASTER server ($500)

  1. Networked to static IP so people can watch through VLC (free video software)
  2. Facebook Live Producer (records and posts later)


  • Simple 1-camera/1-person production
  • Just video and sound – no merging of song/sermon slides
  • Secure broadcasting on private network for those who aren’t on social media
  • May need some light programming to get a static IP to use VLC as a streaming service

Wabash Alliance Church

Medium Effort

Camera(s) with HDMI output:

  • DSLR ($800)
  • Smart Phone ($300)
  • PTZ (point tilt zoom) ($1800)

Tripod/Wall mount
HDMI cable
Sound board with output cord
Gaming capture card ($100)
Desktop computer with 16GB RAM


  1. OBS (free) can take multiple inputs (like slides or another camera) and can record as well as stream to one platfrom
  2. Restream ($15/month ) to use OBS to      stream to multiple platforms (Facebook and YouTube)


  • Works with 1-3 cameras
  • Only needs 1 person managing it
  • Free software to manage the switching of camera views and add lyrics or sermon slides to the video (MediaShout, Proclaim, or Propresenter)
  • Stream to one platform for free if you don’t want to pay a monthly cost for Restream

Exit Alliance Church


Mac Solution

1-4 iPhones
Tripods (Osmo has remote controlled pannable tripods)
HDMI Switcher
HDMI cords
USB mini/USB-A cords
Sound board with output cord
Zoom H6 (for capturing the audio – think portable sound board) ($350)
At least 2 people monitoring the sound, running the worship slides, and managing Switcher Studio


  • SwitcherCast
  • Switcher Studio (subscription software; Apple iOS)
  • Restream ($15/month) to stream to multiple platorms


  • Takes up to 9 sources, including worship slides from a Mac or Windows PC
  • Switching camera angles keeps the viewer’s attention
  • The Zoom6 is great if you’re thinking of adding podcasts to your ministry
  • User-intuitive software with professional-looking results
  • You get to upsell your tech team with facility rental for special events like weddings or online course generation! 😉

Westview Alliance Church


Non-Mac Solution

1-3 professional DSLR or camcorders with HDMI or SDI output (price range depending on quality $1300-2400)
Sturdy tripods
Mics that transmit remotely
Blackmagic ATEM mini pro or ATEM mini pro ISO ($600)
Laptop/PC with an ethernet port
Extra monitor (preferably with headphone jack)
A fast USB-C memory stick or hard drive
4k HDMI cables in 3,6,10,15,25 feet length (depending on set up)
Audio splitter cable
Stereo cable
Blackmagic SDI to HDMI video converter (if needed)
Lighting kit
2 wireless sound channels minimum
Cables, accessories, lighting
At least 1 eager individual ready


  • The ATEM mini pro has included software which allows you to add overlays to the video, do picture-in-picture (pastor + sermon slide).
  • With the ATEM mini pro you can record to the USB-C memory card and stream directly.
  • Takes 4 inputs
  • Switching camera angles keeps the viewer’s attention
  • You get to upsell your setup with facility rental for special events like weddings or online course generation!

Canaan Community Church