Now that we have all had to quickly adapt to a virtual lifestyle and online versions of all that we do, it’s important to remember the etiquette we normally use when meeting in person in order to continue sharing Christ’s love, even while connecting remotely. When we meet online we want to be loving, inviting, and safe in the same way as we seek to be in person – i.e. establish good ‘netiquette’ (network etiquette). The following are our expectations for when we meet as a church together online so that all participants feel safe and welcome.
Opening and Closing Prayer
What we need most during this time is connection, so leave some room to just catch up and have a casual conversation. You may want to start by sharing a short devotional or ask a participant to provide one. Then close the meeting with asking for prayer requests and praying the Lord’s Prayer together.
Technology Pointers & Best Practices
A simple review of technology at the start of each gathering helps eliminate technological challenges and keep everyone feeling comfortable during the meeting. If you are the host, provide a quick refresher once most of the participants have joined to familiarize people with video (on/off) and audio (mute/unmute) options or as a friendly reminder. Decide collectively if people will be muted when they aren’t speaking. Muting not only prevents talking over one another, it blocks background noise, which can be distracting. When using a service like Zoom, for instance, you can set each meeting to start with all participants muted.
Be Kind & Supportive
As a Christian community we are always called to love others as Jesus loves us, this is especially true online and during difficult times! The most important thing to understand is that while we are not in the same place, we exist as a church to support each other and trust that our online meetings will be filled with Christ’s love. Reminding participants that we are all coping with similar problems and challenges can help everyone extend more grace and kindness through their screens.
Confidentiality & Privacy
A part of loving each other is respecting what is private for others, so we do not share that information publicly, in chat boxes, or on video cameras. Please do not share what others talk about outside of the group out of love and respect for others. Only group leaders have permission to take photos of meetings, by previously checking for permission from participants and parents of children. It is important to remind everyone that what is said during gatherings is confidential. While it may seem obvious when meeting in person that we wouldn’t share personal struggles, or photos taken without permission, these formalities can often be forgotten when meeting online.
Be Patient and Help Others Out
We ask that we all use our gifts to help each other during these meetings. If you’re super tech savvy and some others aren’t, patiently help them understand the tools we’re using; if you’re a prayer warrior, offer to lead prayer and/or pray for others during the week; if you know of helpful resources or tips related to the conversation that’s happening, share it with the group before the meeting ends.
Use Appropriate Language
While boundaries may be difficult to find during this time as we are all bringing church, school, and work into our homes, we still ask that you use appropriate and kind language when attending church meetings online. If you wouldn’t say something in the church building, try to find different wording when online as well.
Wardrobe & Distractions
While we are all enjoying more casual wardrobes these days, we ask that you keep your clothing appropriate (free of offensive words, pictures, or symbols) while joining online gatherings. Reminding everyone to dress appropriately, and to sit with their back to a wall to prevent unsuspecting family members from joining the call, will avoid embarrassing and uncomfortable incidents from occurring. Position yourself in a room or place in your home with a solid background, or without a lot of clutter. Services like Zoom allow you to add a background image if you don’t have an appropriate environment. If you have pets, make sure they are comfortable on their own for the duration of the meeting or can be managed during the gathering without being a distraction. We all enjoy seeing everyone’s fur babies!
Be Mindful of Time
Strive to begin and end meetings on time as a sign of respect for other people’s time and attention. If you need to continue a conversation about a particular topic, or work on details, plan to follow up with those involved after the meeting. It is a good idea to provide all participants with a summary or overview, but try to avoid turning the meeting into a brainstorming session with others that do not need to participate. Following this guideline will encourage more interaction and participation from the group as long as the topics and discussion continue to pertain to them.
Child Safety and Supervision Guidelines
When meetings involve youth or children we will continue to follow our Safe Sanctuaries guideline which require at least two adults present.
We hope you found this information helpful!
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