NEW 90-minute workshop on CCLI copyright licenses, reporting and SongSelect (9/23/20)

To view a recording of the workshop by Director of Worship Lan Wilson, click here.

Funeral Best Practices - updated 8.31.2020

Download this comprehensive resource for guidance on how to manage funerals during this time.  It includes information on pastoral care, livestreaming services and mourning during this time of social distancing.

Communion during Re-opening - update 7.28.20

Following your protocols for social distancing and re-opening, as congregations begin gathering in person for worship again, we encourage these practices when administering communion:

1. Serve pre-packaged communion elements like in the picture below and have participants hold out their hand for a communion steward or hospitality person to drop it into their hand.

It is not safe to pass a basket or tray or have them reach into one themselves. Be prepared for worshipers who may need assistance with opening the packages and have persons available to assist and sanitize between assists.

You may also distribute the elements as people are coming in to worship, and then when time comes ask those who need assistance with opening to raise their hands.

• Have everyone take it back to their seats and take it all at the same time.

• There are pre-packaged individually wrapped gluten free elements available as well which can be found here.

• Where the pre-packaged gluten free full communion set isn’t available, you can also purchase just the wafers individually wrapped here.

• Have trash baskets available at exits for people to drop their cups in on their way out.

2. As many congregations will continue to do hybrid worship, let those worshiping online know to prepare their elements ahead of time and be sure to include them as your administering the sacraments.

3. Continue administering communion virtually as this has become a rich practice in the home for many families and will continue to serve those who may not be able to return to worship as soon as others.

4. For those doing drive-in worship, either distribute the pre-packaged elements or have people bring their own from home.

Singing in worship - update 7.7.20

The act of singing in worship has been linked to the spread of COVID-19. We recommend no congregational singing during in person worship.

With care to social distance from each other and the congregation, solos and small ensembles of less than four people can perform without a mic or by using individual mics.  Maintain social distancing while singing. Continuing with pre-recorded music works well also.

For those churches with choirs that are looking forward to singing again, we recommend having choir members sign up to sing in small ensembles of three to four people where choir harmonies can be sung using choir music without having the full group.

Clergy Renewal Services

Clergy Renewal Leave – Due to the stress and pressure of ministry during COVID-19, we prepared two weeks of  full online worship services that the congregation may use to stream on Facebook, Zoom or YouTube. The services are available in Korean, Spanish and English and can be found here.

Capacity Planning Software Programs

Capacity Planning software programs now available.  Some of our churches are already using:

Online Worship

  • When planning to do online worship, there are several platforms available. Some of the most common are Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Zoom, and Periscope. All of these are free platforms accessible by phone, tablet, or computer. As well, Zoom offers the added benefit of allowing people to simply call in, which is a great asset for those who may not have access to internet devices. Click here for technology resources.
  • Plan the online service ahead of time. Advertise the expected length so people can plan accordingly. Thirty minutes is a great time window for brief liturgy/music and a message. Sixty minutes is a good maximum recommended length for full services.
  • If you have online giving setup, before you go live, be sure to post how to access this on the livestream. To use, GNJ’s online giving portal for local churches, click here.  
  • Use a steady camera. It is not a good idea to have someone (or you) simply holding the camera while streaming live. Use a stand of some sort.
  • If there is only one camera to record, try to stand still (unless there is a gimbal that will steadily move the camera around.)
  • Livestreaming music requires a livestreaming copyright license. Otherwise only livestream the sermon portion of the service, but be mindful that material used must be your original work unless otherwise approved for public performance. Breakthrough materials are public domain and okay for livestreaming. If  sermons from books or sites are used such as SermonCentral or SermonSpice, these sermons  may not be livestreamed. See this link for more information on livestream copyrights.
  • When livestreaming the sermon, do a test run first to make sure the audio is clear on a cellphone or tablet. Make adjustments accordingly. Keep the camera still and try to avoid placing it somewhere people might walk in front of it, blocking the view of the preacher.
  • Council of Churches has given permission for NRSV and RSV translations.
  • Be sure to offer a giving option whether via your church website, an app, mail, or via the GNJ online giving portal where offerings can be made online and sent to your local church.
  • Give people a time expectancy for how long the service will be.
  •  Either send out something for families to do with kids or offer a children’s message towards the beginning of the service (perhaps after the opening music).
  • For people hard of hearing or deaf, YouTube offers free closed captioning if you pre-record the service. Also you can have a sign language interpreter on screen (via inviting them to the facebook livestream) signing as you preach.
  • UMC has granted free permission for book of worship content, and the hymnal. You still need a livestreaming license for all other content.

Assurance Relieves Anxiety

People need to be assured that the church is taking the necessary steps to ensure safe practices for whatever may arise during this time. Let people know, the church staff and leadership will be diligent in staying in consistent communication on how the church will stay connected during this time and when it is safe to return to church.

Creating a Weekly Connect Card

Connect with your congregation online.  Set up a FREE Google form to collect information for online worship attendance, prayer requests and more. Download easy to use instructions and get started today.

Online Communion

If you choose to administer virtual communion, invite participants to wash their hands and gather a piece of bread or cracker and something to drink.  You may follow the normal format of administering the sacrament which should include the following components:

  • Proclamation including scripture and message
    Prayer- asking for forgiveness and the pronouncement of forgiveness
  • Greeting – The Lord be with you and also with you, we lift up our hearts…
  • Invitation- It is right, and a good and joyful thing…
  • Sanctus- Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of power and might…
  • Remembering the life of Jesus and the words of institution- On the night in which he gave himself up for us…
    Proclaiming the mystery- Christ has died, Christ has risen; Christ will come again
  • Consecration- Pour out your holy spirit…
  • The Lord’s prayer
  • Offering the bread and the cup- The body of Christ given, for you.  The blood Christ, given for you.
  • Then, invite them to share the elements with others in their home.

Find alternative formatting in the United Methodist Hymnal and Book of Worship. Click here for link to online Book of Worship. 

Love Feast - An Alternative to Communion

Another form of worship that as another form of the means of grace is the Love Feast. The Love Feast is a meal celebrating fellowship and unity while remembering the meals that Jesus shared with his disciples during his ministry.  John Wesley first experienced the Love Feast with the Moravians in 1737 and wrote in his diary, “After evening prayers, we joined the Germans in one of their love feasts.  It was begun and ended with thanksgiving and prayer, and celebrated in so decent and solemn a manner as a Christian of the apostolic age would have allowed to be worthy of Christ.” The Love Feast is celebrated especially in times when celebrating communion may not be possible.

Download Love Feast Information Here

  • Love Feast - An Alternative to Communion

    Love Feast - An Alternative to Communion

    Offering another form of the means of grace through, the Love Feast may be appropriate for your congregation at this time. The Love Feast is a meal celebrating fellowship and unity while remembering the meals that Jesus shared with his disciples during his ministry. (updated 3.31.20)

Children's Worship

Ministering to children during this season of virtual worship can be difficult, but there are ways to make it happen. If the church usually has a children’s message in the service, offer a 2-3 minute children’s message towards the beginning of the service and announce that it will be happening in your advertising as well as during the opening statement of the virtual service.

Here are some free resources to use and to offer families:

Service Line-up

  • Open with a brief greeting. Encourage people to interact by commenting, praying and singing along, etc.
  • Do a brief centering (prayer, short call to worship, or litany) to set the tone for worship.
  • Song (if possible, if not go straight to the message)
  • Message
  • Prayer. Invite people to comment their prayer requests. If using Zoom, they can do this in the chat window, or un-mute everyone for a brief moment to allow them to speak their prayer requests.
  • Invite people to take a moment to give either now or as soon as the service is over. Remind them that they can still give via mail, or give through online banking  automatic withdrawal) that it will still be functioning.
  • Closing Prayer/Benediction

Free Graphics

Lightstock.com is offering free graphic resources for churches during COVID-19. Click here. 

For more information, contact: