How to encourage seniors to go online

With COVID-19 and most communities of faith in Chinook Winds offering worship online, church leaders have also been concerned that no one gets missed — particularly older congregants who aren’t tech-savvy. Some older church members just won’t go online and consequently, church leaders ensure these people receive written worship material — either through the mail or personally dropped off to them. Regular phone calls take place.

But many older members have persisted in learning new technology and now join in worship online, leave comments or participate in studies or meetings in Zoom.

At the Chinook Winds Regional Office we frequently are asked ‘How do we encourage older people to go online?’ or ‘how do we simplify the technology for seniors?’ Actually, many of you already have the wisdom to pass on! In last summer’s Technology and Worship Survey, we asked Chinook Winds Ministry Personnel, church staff and tech volunteers how communities of faith were encouraging older people to go online.

Please see below how many of your colleagues and lay leaders responded:

• We created tutorial videos that provide step-by-step instructions on how to connect to Zoom sessions and how to view our live-streamed services

• We’ve learned to coach people. Still a bit unclear on how Zoom works differently on Apple products.

• Helped people setting up/using Zoom.

• Mostly coaching people. Getting members of the congregation to call and encourage others to join.

• we have a couple of congregants with no computer or computer experience and we explained how they can access the zoom service with their landline phone which they do and both commented how much they appreciated being able to do that.

• Encouraging the congregants without internet to join via phone. It worked well. Helping folks with any zoom problems.

• we knew that this was going to be a challenge so from the start we led with the simplicity of connecting by phone. We also started out with a consistent sign-in link and meeting id, and no password. Once it was clear that this was a bad security risk we went to unique sign-ins and passwords for each gathering, but people adapted well since they were used to the former.
Our phone ministry callers intentionally talked with households they were calling about the process– they noted their concerns and gave that information back to staff for us to follow up on. Some households have depended on family members to coach them in person. Many of our regular computer users have coached other members to help them join in.

• Coaching, one to one conversations, letting them test it outside of Sunday morning.

• I continually offer to work coach individuals on how to use Zoom sessions. For one person, she connects on a computer to “see everyone” & then phones in on a landline. We can’t see because her computer doesn’t have a camera but she can see everyone else.

• It’s hard. We sent Dvds of our Sunday recordings to non-internet households & the folks who didn’t have internet didn’t have or want a DVD player. Re zoom, once one phone in person broke the ice it seemed to encourage others. Also helped to learn the *6 And *9 commands on zoom phone AND for us, incorporating some zoom breakout time – easier for a phone participant in a group of 5 rather than a group of 35.

• we have had one or two with teaching that will now connect but there are others who will not even try. Not interested.

• one-on-one coaching for joining zoom first time and an instruction pdf prepared and emailed.

• Encouraging people to join virtual coffee gatherings has been effectively done on an ad hoc basis by friends and family members visiting and coaching people one-on-one. I did a training session for leaders on using zoom for church meetings 

• Phone calls to help folks set up their tablets or computers. Donations of computers for others.

• Mainly word of mouth; Accessing YouTube seems to work for most.

• Coaching, tech support videos included in our e-newsletter

• We created a "how to use zoom" template on our website and include it in all zoom invitations. We have also offered 1 on 1 support

• find computers for them, find internet for them, coach them on logging in, have live support throughout the service, phone people that are not attending to determine what barriers are in place.

• Helping them to download Zoom and teach how to use. Also explain how they could phone into Zoom,

Thankfully some congregants have been helping each other with coaching on how to connect to Zoom. Most have been able to get connected. 

Coaching people on their computer either iPad or PC. My comfort zone is PC, but have had to learn some iPad speak to help.

• I have met with anyone that wants to try out Zoom before the service. I am experienced with Zoom, so have been able to help anyone with troubleshooting.