Welcome to our District Digital Resources Hub – full of digital downloads, practical advice, and free resources to support and equip your church. Guidance for beginners and experts alike; this Resouces Hub has been put together by our District Digital Enabler.
Why is digital important for the church?
The online world holds huge opportunities for the church to utilise, and is a core part of Our Calling and the Evangelism & Growth Strategy, providing a means to reach people with our message where they are: online. We live in an increasingly digital age and our methods must change to reach a new generation. Now, more than ever, the church must strive to explore how we can use these digital tools for worship, evangelism, discipleship, mission, and ministry.
What are you looking for?
New for 2023
As I relaunch my bid to encourage churches with digital in 2023, I have attempted to simplify and highlight some resources that might help you flourish with what you are already doing – and signposting where I think we need to be going as the Methodist Church. Ultimately I want to encourage you with a vision that should be achievable for churches in 2023.
I’d encourage you to read my accompanying article:
EMERGING FROM THE COCOON – Why digital is key for the church in 2023
The linked downloads are collations of my existing guidance – some updated and amended for 2023 – however, both come with a newly written summary document that outlines a suggested approach to these topics.
Bespoke Training (In-person and online)
Organise a Digital Training Session in your circuit or area – just get in touch with our Digital Communications Enabler. Websites and Social Media are key tools for the future of our churches. This flexible training is focused on providing practical advice and digital skills for your church or circuit, whether on how to improve your online worship or best use social media, request any topic. Training can be provided on Zoom or in-person. Upcoming public events will be listed here and also on the District Calendar
Evangelism and Discipleship in the Online Space (Workshop at District Synod) – Saturday 7th May 2022
Running Online Meetings, Tadcaster Circuit – Wednesday 12th January 2022
Video Production for Online Worship, Tadcaster Circuit (held on Zoom) – Tuesday 20th April 2021
Understanding Online Platforms for Church Safeguarding (held on Zoom) – 2021
Social Media Trends 2021 for Churches (held on Zoom) – 2021
Digital Training Pocklington & Market Weighton Circuit (held on Zoom) – Tuesday 30th June 2020
Support for Leading Online Worship (held on Zoom) – Wednesday 13th May 2020
Goole and Selby Circuit Digital Training – Monday 13th January 2020
Thirsk & Northallerton Circuit Digital Training – Saturday 27th July 2019
South Holderness Circuit Digital Training – Thursday 20th June 2019
Ryedale Circuit Digital Training – Saturday 25th May 2019
Digital Training Workshop at District Synod – Saturday 6th April 2019
"How to" and Information Guides
Find below guides on a range of digital and online topics – created by our Digital Communications Enabler. All are PDF Documents: (click the red heading text and the document will open in a new tab. You can then choose to read it online or download it)
Design and Branding: a practical guide and suggestions
Level: Beginner – Intermediate | 17 pages | written 2022
Best practices for Methodist Churches. This is is a guide for anyone who already creates graphics, posters, documents, newsletters, notices, or PowerPoints. Providing simple tips to help improve what we already do.
Practical checklist: Church Communication and Publicity
Level: Easy | 2 pages | written 2022
Refresh and improve how you share church information through posters, emails, websites, social media, and other channels. For anyone already involved in this area (such as ministers, admins, lay employees, or volunteers) to give an easy way to improve some of our church communications and publicity.
Practical checklist: Online Worship, Zoom, and Live Streaming
Level: Easy | 2 pages | written 2022
Refresh and improve how you disciple people in your church using online worship, zoom groups, or live streaming. For anyone already involved in this area (such as ministers, admins, lay employees, or volunteers) to give an easy way to improve some of our church’s use of online worship, Zoom, and live streaming.
Practical checklist: Church Outreach on Social Media
Level: Easy | 2 pages | written 2022
Refresh and improve how you reach people outside our churches in the online space – going to where they are on social media. For anyone already involved in this area (such as ministers, admins, lay employees, or volunteers) to give an easy way to improve some of our church’s use of social media.
Digital Communications Enabler
These Digital Resources have been complied by our Digital Communications Enabler, Elliot Crippen, who has been working for the District since 2018. Elliot brings expertise in social media, web design, video production, graphic design, and photography, among other areas.
For further help or advice, you can contact Elliot at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright and Licences for Music
A document by the district to try and collate and simplify some of the commonly asked questions around copyright for online worship. Pdf document that opens in a new tab. Take a look here:
District Online Worship Copyright FAQs (pdf)
Methodist Copyright Guidance
A detailed page on the Methodist Church website giving guidance on copyright for online worship
Getting to grips with copyright (URC online pdf)
A helpful guide by the United Reformed Church on copyright and the options available.
Licensing explained for streaming worship songs in the UK (Resound Worship)
Useful background to help you understand how copyright and licensing works, including guidance on what you need for online worship
Copyright Explained – The Bigger Picture (Methodist Blog)
A blog post on the Methodist Website by Miss Beth Dufour, Freelance Permissions Editor from ClearPermissions, helping to explain copyright and how to avoid copyright infringements and potential fines.
Hybrid and Blended Events
Returning to in-person gatherings is a gift, but we need to remember that live streaming / online worship / online meetings are here to stay, and it is especially important in this transitional season as people continue to have varying levels of comfort with in-person gatherings. Hybrid / blended / mixed-economy options are often a great solution. There is a distinction here between hybrid business meetings and doing hybrid church services – the equipment and setup for each might vary depending on the scale. The below resources are to assist with both – also see our Online Worship guidance
Tips for Hybrid Church Services:
(adapted from the CofE)
A mixed-ecology or hybrid church service is not just a normal service in a church building that is livestreamed or recorded. In order for people joining in online to feel as much part of the congregation as people in the building, it really helps to think through how you might change or adapt the structure and content of your service to make it engaging and enable everyone to worship and learn through it.
Duration: It is hard for people to sit through a long church service if they are watching it on a screen. 30 to 45 minutes is a good length to keep people engaged all the way through.
Content: If you watch a TV news programme or magazine programme like Blue Peter or The One Show you will see that it is broken up into lots of different segments and short lines of script. Similarly, an online church service will be easier to watch if there are not too many long blocks of
speech or the same shot on just one person for a long time. It may mean adapting the liturgy (spoken words and prayers) you use to be shorter, involving more people up-front, or varying your camera shots.
Variety A hybrid service that features several people will be more interesting than a service led by just one person. Think about how you can involve different people in the various sections of the service. Those watching also enjoy seeing someone they know pop up on the screen. However, having a core rota of 3 or 4 service leaders/presenters is helpful to build a sense of familiarity and consistency for those watching online. (A bit like knowing all the presenters on Countryfile or The Great British Bake Off!)
Inclusive: Make sure you spend time welcoming your online congregation and introduce yourself at the beginning of the service. Address the camera/s directly at various points in the service. If there is a part of the service they won’t be able to see, make sure you describe what is happening offcamera.
If you’re looking for a more advanced or long term soloution, you may need to install permenent equipment in your church – such as PTZ cameras, audio-visual desk, screens etc.
Here are some options for compainies that supply and install this type of equipment in North Yorkshire that other churches have used:
Contact our Digital Communications Enabler:
Equipment recommendations for online and hybrid services (CofE Article)
A six-page document outlining some equipment options for hybrid services
A step-by-step guide to online and onsite services (CofE Blog)
This resource combines missional and digital wisdom from the Church of England to inspire and inform churches planning for the post-covid online world.
Plan the Best Hybrid Zoom Event (external blog)
Walkthrough for small hybrid events (not church-focused), such as meetings, with simple tips and suggestions.
Hybrid Church: blending online and offline community
(Premier Digital – Pete Philips)
An article that explores some of the themes from the Grove booklet on Hybrid Church written by Pete Philips
Building community online: what’s at stake? Quite simply, massively increased inclusion and participation. A piece of research undertaken by the URC Yorkshire Synod shows that the option to join services, meetings, and other events can increase potential participation by more than 80%. People report that shifting church online during the pandemic has led, in many cases, to:
• Increased numbers at services, Bible studies, prayer meetings,
youth groups, clubs, community outreach events etc.
• Increased regular attendance
• Increased levels of personal contact and pastoral care
• Increased sense of belonging and membership
A digital space, in other words, for a shared journey of discipleship. The fellowship, inclusion, and connection that are made possible by technology are also demanded by the call to follow Jesus faithfully in today’s world. We need to think about an online presence in terms of community building – interactive, mutually beneficial, and adding value to peoples lives.
More resources coming soon…
As a starting point take a look at our guidance on Filming Video from Home and Live Streaming from Church Buildings – both of which are located on our Online Worship Page
- The best platforms for developing online communities are Facebook Groups, Zoom, and WhatsApp. Facebook Pages, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are all more for outreach and less suited to building personal relationships.
- Trying to build community with everyone all at once is difficult, the better way is to encourage and organise online small groups
- Do more than just online worship – look at options for mid week content, such as online bible studies, prayer meetings, coffee mornings, social gatherings, dicussion nights, games evenings, online alpha course, or ‘Ted Talk’ style thought provoking content with special guest speakers.
- Provide options for ‘next steps’ if people are interested or wanting to move from ‘pasive veiwer’ to engaging in deeper conversation and real community. Don’t wait for them to come to you, be pro-active in encouraging people to take the next step in developing their faith. Just remember that the end goal shouldn’t be to get them to your physical church building! (although not everything has to take place soley online – think about hybrid, mixed-economy, and fully online options. Hold events in-person and online, but don’t just expect the next step from online worship to be turning up on a sunday morning)
- In order to achieve the above, you need to be running several ‘styles’ of online content that cater to people’s different places on the spectrum of how invovled they want to be – you can’t form true online comunity or really develop people’s discipleship just by doing an hour online worship on a sunday. Maybe you could do morning prayer live on Facebook, which is an easy access point for ‘passive viewers’ but can also develop an online community around it, and then one ‘next step’ in discipleship might be to offer deeper online content in the form of alpha, or a long-from podcast, zoom bible study. Or it might be to invite people to join a Facebook Group, or WhatsApp group, where they can continue the discussion or prayer, and build on relationships with others. A next step on from this might be to organise ‘small groups’, or discussion groups that meet (online or in-person) to engage with the podcast or other long-form material.
Contact our Digital Communications Enabler:
Doing Online Differently: A roadmap for digital discipleship (URC guide)
A great practical guide by the URC church looking at how we can build online community for discipleship
Ten ways to do online Church without losing community (external blog)
Some great tips on ways to keep a sense of community when moving church online.
Seven ways to create community online (external blog)
Ideas for providing more than your typical church service online
Five ways to build community with your church social media (external blog)
Conversation and community are happening online whether churches participate or not. A major goal of the church is to “be where the people are,” so if your church is leaving out digital spaces like social media platforms, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with people. Here are the five tips to help you build community through church social media.
Comprehensive District Guidance
A detailed list of FAQs that help unpack Methodist safeguarding policy in an online context, including resources to help with practical application of this guidance.
This resource has taken a year to produce, and is a long document (over 45 pages) – it is not intended to be read cover to cover. It will hopefully answer a specific question you have, and is a resource you may want to keep revisiting. If you are looking to get an overview and general understanding you may want to skim through the “short answers” and look at the first FAQ in each section. The contents of this document have been created by Katy Spencer-Madden (previous District Safeguarding Officer) and Elliot Crippen (District Digital Enabler).
Digital Safeguarding Best Practice Reference Document
General Safeguarding policies, guidance, and support can be found here: www.yorkshirenemethodist.org/our-work/safeguarding/
In our District...
Numbers of churches in our District that have their own website, Facebook Page, Twitter account or Instagram profile – based on findings in the District Digital Review undertaken between Sep to Dec 2018
Around 54.2% of our district churches have no online presence
*based on findings between Sep-Dec 2018. Churches without a website or any social media account managed by the church
Online and Digital Giving
This section covers some guidance and suggestions around online giving (such as online payments through a church website) and contactless payments (such as having a contactless collection plate in church).
District Contactless Giving Guidance Document (word doc)
A guidance document was created by the district in 2019 on contactless giving options for churches.
Online and contactless giving at local churches (URC online pdf)
A guidance document by the United Reformed Church that runs through the technological solutions for giving at churches, both online and contactless.
Here are some suggested external resources that we have signposted for you on all aspects of digital communications for churches:
The Methodist Church (www.methodist.org.uk/digital) – Digital Communication guidance for churches. Information on websites and social media and how to effectively use them for mission and evangelism.
Church of England Digital Labs (www.churchofengland.org/labs-learning) – a hub of resources, news and events to support digital evangelism and digital discipleship in the Church of England. We’re excited to be expanding Church of England Digital Labs so that we can resource more churches with the right tools and skills they need to do digital effectively. Digital Labs now consists of a number of areas: 1.Labs Learning blog: Weekly blogs on helpful topics for churches around maintaining a good digital and online presence. 2.Labs Learning roadshow: Large events held across the country, where we bring our training to you. 3.Labs Latest newsletter: Monthly email newsletters filled with digital hints, tips and good practice. 4.Digital Labs Live: An annual event for Christian creatives
URC Information Guides (https://urcyorkshire.org.uk/urc-information-guides/) – A wide range of guides by the United Reformed Church on all aspects of digital and online church. Includes guides on: Zoom, Facebook, Copyright, Livestreaming, Podcasts, WhatsApp, and setting up WiFi – amoung many others.
Seventh-day Adventist Church digital resources (www.sdadata.org/resource-menu.html) – resources to empower and equip ministries with the necessary resources, skills, and information to accomplish our shared goal of serving the community and advancing the gospel message. New resources added weekly. Resources include: Adventist Identity Guidelines, Big Data Resources, Branding, Images & Design Resources, Church/Ministry Specific Resources, Copyright & Trademark Resources, Digital Discipleship & Evangelism, Email Resources, Guidance for Hiring a Social Media Positions, NAD Social Media Guidelines, Podcasts, Reports & Case Studies, (SEO) Search Engine Optimization for Ministries, Tracking & Analytics Resources, Social Media Resources, Video Resources, Videos & Tutorials, Website Tips.
United Methodist Church (www.umcom.org/topics/learn) – digital resources from the United Methodist Church.
Pro Church Tools (https://prochurchtools.com/free-tools) – free tools for churches provided by Brady Shearer from the USA. Whatever your learning style, you’ll find video, audio, and written training to help your church seize the 167 (your week has 168 hours. If your Sunday Service is just 1hr, how is your church reaching people in the other 167?). Pro Church Tools provides guidance on all aspects of digital communication, websites and social media.
Church Train (www.churchtrain.uk) – Church Communication Training. Equipping UK churches and volunteers to communicate effectively with free blog posts on digital guidance and as a business providing graphic design, websites and branding for churches (paid).