Is your church staff or Bible study group using Zoom to meet these days? Consider swapping out your surroundings with one of our free Zoom backgrounds or profile pictures (like the picture shown above). This resource is provided by Cokesbury.
Video Tutorials provided by Zoom on Meetings, Webinars, Zoom Rooms, and Administrators
Our Conference Council of Youth Ministry meets every quarter to plan our Youth Ministry events. We had to hold our most interactive meeting of the year over zoom, with about forty youth and adults in virtual attendance. The zoom breakout rooms allowed us to still hold our meeting in the way we needed to, despite social distancing. We were able to use the breakout rooms to allow our students to participate in small group discussion so that everyone had an opportunity to creatively share with the group. As we could easily transition to zoom breakout rooms and then back to the main call we are were able to repeatedly check back in with each other as a large group after being in smaller groups. We were able to share feedback to ensure we were all working in the same direction before we switched back to our breakout rooms. The ability for the facilitator to jump in and out of the different breakout rooms allowed me to check in with all the groups and hear from each of them just as I would have if we were meeting in person. This set up allowed us to continue to stay engaged throughout the 2 ½ meeting. I am happy to say we were able to have creative and prayerful conversation during this virtual meeting, allowing us to decide on our direction and theme for Mid-Winter 2021.
I was intimated to try this as I am not the best at technology. The set up was very simple and the tutorials offered via zoom helped me easily prepare.
CTC Coordinator of Youth Minstry
United Methodist Communications (UMCOM) and the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) are offering local churches who average less than 100 in worship each week the opportunity to request free Zoom web conferencing (a ~$142 value) through Jan. 28, 2021. If your church meets the less than 100 average weekly worship attendance criteria and is interested in obtaining this “Zoom Grant,” UMCOM and GCFA recommend that you apply quickly as access is only available for a limited number of churches and will be awarded on a first come, first served basis.
Please click here to apply* for the “Zoom Grant.” If you haven’t used Zoom, the conference has good resources available on its COVID-19 Online Ministry Resources page. This offering is provided by United Methodist Communications and the General Council on Finance and Administration. Please email LocalChurchServices@UMCom.org with any questions, comments or concerns.
*UMCom will verify the average worship attendance of your local church before awarding grants based on the latest information at UMdata.org. Please do not apply for this grant if you have above 100 in average worship attendance or do not plan to use Zoom.
Zoom has become a principal tool to keep people, business and yes, even local churches connected since the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic crisis caused “Stay-at-Home” and “Shelter-in-Place” orders across the globe. (Zoom usage went from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March). When you combine that kind of quick growth (which means many users are new and inexperienced with the tool) and a bunch of online miscreants with even more time on their hands than a month ago, hacking is something of which to be aware. The FBI reported this week that “Zoombombing” incidents are occurring across America, which has led to folks asking “Is Zoom safe to use?” The short answer is yes. However, just like with any online activity, users must be smart and cautious when using the tool.
Here are three simple steps that go a long way in preventing the Zoombombers from hijacking your online meeting.
Do not share meeting links publicly. This is perhaps the single most obvious precaution you can take. Rather than posting a meeting link to a Facebook group or in a promotional tweet or IG post, distribute the link via a more private method, such as email. And copy and paste the meeting link from the ZOOM tool when you create the meeting vs. using the invite others to the meeting button provided in the tool. This extra few seconds will make your meeting much more secure.
Set your meetings to “private” and require a password. Zoom now sets all new meetings to “private” by default, requiring attendees to provide a password for access. But users often opt to make meetings public for the sake of convenience. The slight inconvenience of requiring a password is probably worthwhile in keeping your meeting safe.
Make it a webinar and restrict video sharing. This is especially pertinent if you are using Zoom to host your worship service or another presentation that doesn’t involve active participation and comments from viewers. If the meeting host is the only person who needs to share video, such as in a seminar or presentation, the host should change Zoom’s screen-sharing setting to “Host only.”
What is Zoombombing?
Many Zoombombing incidents have amounted to a form of trolling. Hackers gain access to a Zoom meeting and attempt to disrupt the video chat and upset participants by shouting profanity or racial slurs, or putting disturbing or offensive images in their video feed.
How are hackers joining Zoom meetings they aren’t supposed to be in?
The majority of Zoombombing attacks appear not to be the product of flaws in Zoom’s code, but rather of users’ overall cybersecurity hygiene and their imperfect command of Zoom’s privacy settings.
If a Zoom meeting is set to public, it can be accessed by anyone with the correct link. According to Roy Zur, cofounder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Cybint, bad actors can find these addresses simply by searching for “zoom.us” on social media sites like Facebook, where public meeting links are often posted.
How can I prevent Zoombombing of my meetings and video calls?
There are several important, mostly straightforward ways to protect your meetings. Zoom recommends that users read this detailed guide, which covers precautions for keeping their meetings safe.
Most importantly, Zoom users should not share meeting links publicly. This is perhaps the single most obvious precaution you can take. Rather than posting a meeting link to a Facebook group or in a promotional tweet, distribute information via a more private method, such as email.
Second, set your meetings to “private.” Zoom now sets all new meetings to “private” by default, requiring attendees to provide a password for access. But users often opt to make meetings public for the sake of convenience. Given the wave of Zoombombings, the inconvenience of requiring a password is probably worthwhile in keeping your meeting safe.
Also, don’t use your personal meeting ID. Every registered Zoom user has a personal meeting ID, linked to what is essentially a permanent virtual meeting room. Because that ID doesn’t change, sharing it publicly increases the chance that future meetings using your personal ID might be Zoom bombed. To avoid the risk of Zoombombing, share your personal meeting ID only with your most trusted contacts. Generally, while Zoom will prompt you to use your personal ID for “instant” meetings, scheduled meetings will use a one-time meeting ID, reducing risk.
Finally, restrict video sharing. If the meeting host is the only person who needs to share video, such as in a seminar or presentation, the host should change Zoom’s screen-sharing setting to “Host only.”
Is Zoom safe to use?
Yes. However, given the wave of Zoom bombings, you might suspect there's a problem with the Zoom software. Zoom is generally doing a good job on security, and the bulk of Zoom bombings are most likely due to lax user practices rather than bugs. However, the very popularity of Zoom may inherently make it riskier.