We have been using Zoom for various online groups and prayer meetings, but as the fall ministries ramp up we plan to use it to host youth group small groups and life groups for those unable to attend in person. We have two licensed users currently and are hoping to add 8 more. I’m wondering how other churches are using Zoom, organizing licensed users, and what other best practices you have found. Thanks!
I, too, am interested in this exact question as we approach the fall. I
have been hesitant to provide accounts for this kind of use due to the
sheer number of accounts needed. I have suggested alternative platforms but
everyone really wants to use Zoom because of familiarity.
Look into one of the free options for groups and classes. Look at Jitsi.org. Their meetings host lots of people (up to 75) for an unlimited time. Completely Free. It is really easy to use. Users feel ‘comfortable’ with Zoom, but this also works really well.
We use zoom with our church, and we are up to about 25 licenses. If I could get people to try this, we might reduce the need for all these licenses that get used only once weekly.
We’re pushing our groups to use Facebook Rooms if possible and Free Conference Call otherwise. If neither one is at all feasible, we’re working with our Connect ministry (groups) to set up times where they will host a meeting with breakout groups. We have 500 attendee capacities and can do up to 50 breakout groups. This allows us to “Share” the pro license with free users within the Terms of Service for Zoom.
You can do it all in Teams, which is free and secure.
After checking out some of the other options mentioned by other folks previously, and if you decide to proceed with Zoom, you may want to checkout the Zoom Discount Program available from TechSoup.org. I believe they have a 50% discounted rate for a couple different plan options.
Thank you all for the suggestions. I had floated a few free options at the beginning of al this, but the staff still settled on Zoom. I’ll look into some of these others and the potential tech soup discount.
For anyone using Zoom (or these other platforms), have you given licenses to volunteers through regular email accounts or organized licenses in a different way? How and why? Anything else you’ve implemented that has worked?
You can easily add external users. You simply send the invite to their personal email address.
Our Communications team settled on Zoom for their breakout function which the Student Ministry wanted. I think we have 20+ accounts. We have an account for each Bible study group or room number they typically meet in. All accounts are an alias of a single email account so a single person can manage changing passwords if needed. I think the person managing Zoom sets up the re-occurring sessions so the leaders just have to log in and start the session
For those who have Office 365 and Teams, I know it has been a frustration for our groups that they can only see 9 people and that the lack of Breakout Rooms.
Microsoft announced they are rolling out to Teams the ability to have 7x7 grid view like Zoom. They are also rolling out Breakout rooms by the fall academic semester.
Also scheduled to roll out in August is the “Teams Together” mode which supposed to be less fatiguing than the normal grif view: Reimagining virtual collaboration for the future of work and learning - Microsoft 365 Blog Reimagining virtual collaboration for the future of work and learning Reimagining Virtual Collaboration For The Future | M365 Blog.
We do use Zoom, but we have one person who sets up all of our meetings for groups. This allows us to limit the number of Zoom accounts we pay for since one ministry will needs several accounts on one day while another will need a different day. We manage these meetings through Google Calendar to see where open slots are and which zoom accounts are being used by which ministry. Our staff have accounts but are not licensed users, and this works great for their general usage. If they need a meeting longer than 45 minutes that is more than 2 people they can then request a meeting using one of our licensed accounts. We also use breakout rooms regularly which only count as one license since they all start in the same meeting/room.
That’s what I was thinking of doing. Glad to see it’s working for someone else!
I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a great way to manage the number of licenses. Using breakout rooms would definitely save money and could work for most of our ministries. We’ve just been sharing two licenses so far and it’s worked well so far.
I also want to add that their admin tools are really good. The ability to switch a user from a licensed user to a “free user” is incredibly easy. I was so impressed with the admin tools… way more power and information than we would ever use! For those churches who like numbers, their reporting tools would be a great plus.