To Zoom Or No

As restrictions on in-person gatherings are eased, an important ministry question arises: if we can safely gather together by limiting the number of participants and ensuring they all wear masks and keep 6 feet apart, should we? Is a physically-distanced gathering better than an online one?

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the breadth and depth of interaction permitted through Zoom. It shouldn’t have been a surprise; lots of people have been using this technology for a long time. Coaching, for example, is a field that has thrived over the past decade by convening online cohorts, some of which never meet in person. Those cohorts do important work.

And yet . . . Zoom.

You know the depleted feeling by now, the one that settles on you after about an hour staring into your screen and trying to communicate without the nonverbal cues communication needs. Students are sick of it, so why should my ministry with them demand more of it, especially if an in-person option is available?

Zoom is a valuable tool, but it’s starting to feel more valuable when you don’t have to use it.

2 thoughts on “To Zoom Or No

  1. Oh Zoom. Certainly it’s allowing my family to be a part of things that we would otherwise be too far away to participate in — for that, I’m grateful.

    Zoom has been useful to help us maintain existing relationships and programs, but — now that Zoom fatigue has set in — I’m anxious about the likely need to use Zoom for new endeavors. We’re already hearing about the likelihood that school and other activities may need to go virtual again, at least intermittently. I’m already mourning, for my son, the loss of a confirmation year of retreats and lock-ins — I hope there is some small way that they can see each other in person, even within smaller groups, rather than forge relationships entirely on videoconference. Perhaps we can take advantage of the weather and see people in person — fully masked and physically distanced — to meet new classmates and colleagues and then store up enough experiences of each other to last us all winter long?

    I’m also learning not to underestimate the importance of familiar space. Now that we’re all over the novelty of seeing people posed in front of book cases and fireplaces at home, I have really treasured seeing worship at Fourth back at Fourth. Even if only a half dozen people are in the space, it offers a small piece of normalcy.

  2. Yes, I’m with Amy. I long to be back in church, but meanwhile, seeing that some people are there (and hearing them) is a treasure for me. But it’s a vulnerable treasure — my computer protested Sunday morning and kept me away, and today I’ve been in a Zoom meeting when someone’s revealing sentence was lost in a freeze. I’m an introvert, I’ve trained for all this — but even for me, it is wearing thin. On the other hand, I realize now just how important real (not virtual) contact is. I favor letting the small, distanced groups go forward in person.

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