One social technology that can bring church to senior shut-ins is YouTube. As demonstrated by this Methodist church, church leaders can record church services and upload them to YouTube. All the church needs is a Google account to start the YouTube channel. Naming the channel after the church and church’s location may be the best way to ensure that the senior audience will be able to find the videos. The church also may want to create playlists that group the videos together by sermon topic, theme, or month.
Once the church has uploaded a video to its YouTube channel, the church secretary or other designated person can share the videos with senior shut-ins via Facebook, Twitter, and other social channels. It may be easier, however, for the seniors to find and view the church services if the church sends the first video through email with instructions for subscribing to the church’s YouTube channel.
YouTube is one of the best ways to use tech to bring church to senior shut-ins because it is a free service, both for the church and its shut-in members. It also requires very little equipment, other than a smartphone, computer, or tablet with an Internet connection. YouTube also is user-friendly, so senior shut-ins should be able to click on the videos and play them without much instruction or assistance.
2. Teleconference & Video Calling
By using a conference call service to set up a dial-in number, homebound seniors can listen to a sermon in real time right from their living rooms. You can even simultaneously record the sermon and have an MP3 version of it made to post on your church’s website or distribute through email. It’s a wonderful way to let listeners feel like they’re really there -- they’ll even be able to hear the audience responses!
Church leaders can also use video calling as a way to reach out and stay in touch with seniors. They can set up office hours where they’re available for video calls, or allow members to schedule an appointment for a video call counseling session. This allows elder congregation members to get a more personal experience with face-to-face counseling, but eliminates the stress of getting to the church or having company over.
3. Record Church Services on DVDs or CDs
Of course, not all senior shut-ins have the required devices to watch videos on YouTube or to listen to a service via conference call. Sometimes, older technology is required to bring church to all of the senior shut-ins. Recording church services for distribution via DVDs or CDs may take a bit more time than recording services with newer technology, but it will be worth it if the church is able to include all senior shut-ins in church.
One option is for a congregation member to record the services on a smartphone, upload them to a computer, and then burn them to a CD or DVD. No matter the logistics of recording church services on DVDs or CDs, this older technology may be the best medium to use based on the devices senior shut-ins have access to at home.
It is important to include all church members in church services as often as possible, to make everyone feel like a part of the church family. And, senior shut-ins especially need to have a connection with their fellow church members because it improves their wellbeing. That’s why congregations who aren’t already should look into using technology to reach their senior members.
Marie Villeza was inspired to start ElderImpact.org after she watched her son teach her father how to play Angry Birds™ on his smartphone. In that moment, she realized the importance of bringing the generations together so they can usher each other into the future, breaking down walls of fear and time. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, and taking part in her monthly book club.
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