COVID-19: Digital tools for discipleship in the local church.

Craig Philbrick
5 min readMar 17, 2020

UPDATED: 20 APRIL 2020 V.10.

Public worship may have been suspended but the ministry and mission of Jesus continues.

So how do you start doing things digitally?

Here’s a live blog where I’ll be posting links to helpful and important advice as we navigate this together. Do share anything you find in the comments below and I’ll happily add it here.

Some general wisdom and theological reflection

  1. Dr Heidi Campbell has a FREE book that reflects theological about doing church online. This book brings together religious leaders and scholars to offer reflection on lessons learned, answer questions that have been raised, and present insights gleaned from researching religion online.
  2. Christians from Singapore offer some advice on how our congregations can respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  3. Dr Sam Wells offers remarks on our, “opportunity to explore the hinterland of the word with, that doesn’t always involve physical presence, but still means solidarity and kindness, generosity and love”.
  4. Why God’s hybrid Church is still open for business by Pete Philips.
  5. The Church of England has published a very helpful new resources, on Mental Health and Wellbeing.
  6. Dr Vince Vitale, Director of the Americas RZIM, answers the question: “If there’s a God, why are we dealing with the coronavirus disease?”.

Streaming services?

  1. Here’s a beginner’s guide to going live with your service or event for free.
  2. Dial a Sermon! — helping those without the internet stay connected.
  3. Simon Hill has some helpful guidance on video Conferencing with Young People.
  4. Phil Thomson’s practical guide on How to Livestream Your Church Service.
  5. CBN have an article on how to stream your Church service on Facebook Live.
  6. Open Broadcaster Software is a free and open-source cross-platform streaming and recording program that plug into Facebook Live and others.
  7. CCLI have a concise article on recording, streaming and podcasting your services.
  8. The Church Online Platform is more than a video player. It claims to equip you to create community with your congregations and has moderation for comments and a Bible integration.

Podcasting and music?

  1. The Rev Bryony Taylor has a video that will get you going.
  2. A note about livestreaming and song licensing in churches.
  3. Here’s a list of songs in the public domain.
  4. SovereignGraceMusic have offered their music license FREE during this time. They just ask that you include the copyright information for each song used.
  5. For capturing quality sound with a plug and play microphone, we like the Rode Wireless GO – it’s cheap, easy to use and effective.
  6. Soul Survivor offer live songs that you can use in your churches.
  7. The wonderful people at iSingWorship “are very happy for any songs from iSingWorship (or our sister project: Worship Lyric Videos) to be streamed over the internet for the purposes of providing services for your congregation.”
  8. Vineyard Churches have put together a helpful article to explain the legalities around licensing worship songs, having spoken to CCLI and PRS For Music on your behalf.

Online Eucharist?

  1. Revd Dr Pete Philips bring together some recent work on online communion. In the second part of the article, he brings together some resources for online communion, including a number of explicit liturgies.
  2. Bryony Taylor shows how to do Facebook Live with the liturgy on screen simultaneously (using free software @obsproject).
  3. Fr Thomas offers some possible ways forward (from a sceptic).
  4. Hans Googer brings some experts togther to discuss a digital Eucharist.
  5. Christ is Really Present Virtually: A Proposal for Virtual Communion by Dr. Thompson.
  6. Chris Ridgeway ask if our daily digital culture has shaped our interactions to the point that human presence is not synonymous to physicality.
  7. A chaplaincy in the Diocese in Europe has taken a pioneering lead in responding to the current Coronavirus outbreak, making an online recording of a Sunday Eucharist service.

Small groups?

  1. Zoom will let you share pastoral issues privately for 40 minutes completely free.
  2. Vscene will help you share screens on any device.
  3. Google hangouts is another free tool.
  4. Alpha have an online film series that can be downloaded and used in small groups.
  5. Check out the Bridgetown Daily podcast for daily meditations on scripture, a quote, or the life of a saint to ground you in God and his peace.
  6. Soultime is a Christian meditation app for daily meditations, relaxation and anxiety relief.
  7. Lectio 365 is a FREE daily devotional resource that helps you pray the bible every day.
  8. Spiritual freedom, a deeper relationship with Jesus, and finding God in all things are three basic precepts of Ignatian Spirituality.
  9. Sanctuary Ministries have made The Sanctuary Course available for FREE. Simply use the code “mentalhealth” at checkout to receive a 100% discount for the next month (discount code expires April 18, 2020).

Prayer resources:

  1. Pete Greig and 24–7 Prayer have written a prayer for the deliverance from COVID-19.
  2. Find complete services for Morning, Evening and Night Prayer from the Church of England with this official Daily Prayer app.
  3. The Church of England have many helpful liturgies and prayer resources.
  4. Here are some prayer for those who are infected with COVID-19 or facing quarantine from World Vsion.
  5. The Time to Pray App presents everything you need for Prayer During the Day, with variations according to the day of the week and the season of the Church’s year. It’s now FREE.

Other really helpful and FREE resoruces:

  1. Lost Type is a collaborative digital type foundry.
  2. Canva is a simplified graphic-design tool website app.
  3. Pixlr is a robust browser-based photo editor.
  4. Adobe Spark is a great media creation application for your desktop or device.
  5. Unsplash is a community where you can get stock photography.
  6. Iconmonstr offers free icons for your next project.
  7. Bitly will shorten your URLs and let you track what is gaining traction and what isn’t.
  8. Pexels offers free stock photos that you can use anywhere.
  9. Hootsuite will let you manage your communications across yours social sites.
  10. During this time, iKnow Church is offering a free resource for churches to use to help maintain communication and interaction with their community.
  11. Achurchnearyou will let those in your community know when you’re open for prayer.
  12. Typeform will help you create online forms for collecting information.
  13. Google Alerts will let you track keys words and stories within you local community so that you can keep track on the news.

It’s time for us to be the church without walls: a place that connects communities together, keeps hope alive, and demonstrates that peace that only Jesus Christ can bring. Now is the time to be a great neighbour. Now is the time to preach the gospel and to keep our heads.

This is our faith.

One last thing…

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Craig Philbrick

Assistant Curate at Christ Church Winchester. Husband, Dad and fan of animated GIFs.