Do's, Don't and Alternatives of zoom or online youth group

With many youth groups meeting on Zoom or other video platforms, we put together a list of do’s, don’ts and alternatives.

This list was comprised on youth leaders like you, in the trenches, learning as they go what works and what doesn’t.

Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth

The #1 choice right now seems to be Zoom, so let’s start there.

What is Zoom?

Zoom meetings have quickly become a helpful ministry tool. Since churches are unable to meet in person, this platform allows leaders to connect face-to-face with those in their church for little to no cost.

Zoom is a video conferencing/web conferencing platform. Anyone can easily set up an event with one “host” and invite others to participate. 

Their Basic Plan gives you the ability to hold unlimited meetings for free, as long as you would like. You are limited to 40-minute meetings when you have three or more participants.

The Pro Plan is $14.99/month and enables you to have up to 100 participants and up to a 24-hour meeting time limit. It also includes cloud space to store files, recordings, and videos.

How does it work?

You can host a Zoom meeting in only a few steps.

  1. Select your Zoom plan.
  2. Choose “Host a Meeting” or “Schedule a Meeting.”
  3. You can start with or without video.
  4. Next, invite participants to the meeting.
  5. Give your meeting a title and description.
  6. Choose the time when the meeting will begin.
  7. Set-up a password for participants to enter that will enable them to join the meeting.
  8. Host your meeting.

One feature that is convenient for those who are hosting small groups, is the option of having “Breakout groups.” This allows you to have multiple small groups happening at one time through one paid account.

Here are a few do’s and don’ts from fellow youth ministry leaders to make your Zoom meetings awesome…

Do’s

  • Create a “waiting room” that allows students to gather in one place and ensure that only those who have been invited will be participating in the meeting.
  • Keep students engaged by asking them to lead specific segments of your meeting – lead prayer, read Scripture, and even keep score during a game.
  • Help students to prepare and look forward to the meeting by sending the info ahead of time. This includes things like service order, Bible Study format, questions, etc.
  • Maintain order. Because students have an extra reserve of energy and excitement to see each other, lay down a few ground rules that will keep everyone from talking over each other. 
  • Insert games into your meeting time. Platforms, such as Kahoot.com allow you to create trivia games and more that can be utilized during your meetings.
  • Have a designated person that can chat with students during the Zoom call. These “co-hosts” can mute people, stop video, and chat with students during the meeting.

Don’ts

  • Don’t share your Zoom meeting ID and password publicly. Make this info available only to those who you invite to participate in the event.
  • Don’t assume that Zoom is completely secure. Some youth leaders have reported hackers that have shared inappropriate content during their Zoom meeting. 
  • Don’t begin the meeting until everyone mutes their microphone. This will cut down on extra noise and conversation.

Alternatives to Zoom

Skype: Skype Meetings enable you to connect for free with up to 10 people at once. This can be a great option for teams and small groups.

Gotomeeting.com: This platform allows you to record the meeting, present files for download, show Powerpoint presentations and more. It’s easy to setup and gather a large number of people at one time.

Google Hangouts: This free option allows you to schedule meetings through Google calendar. You can host up to 10 people at once. 

Facebook Messenger Video Chat: This platform typically has a high participation rate due to students already being on Facebook. Users report very few technical difficulties however, it is limited to only eight people at a time.

Houseparty: You can host up to eight people at a time, but is limited to only allowing people you know to join the meeting.

Instagram Live: Most likely, most students are already on this social media platform. So, it’s a great option for meetings. After a leader goes live, they simply tap on a person’s name to invite them to join the live video.

GroupMe: This is a free group text messaging and conference calling service that allows you to create groups and easily text message several contacts at once.

Here are two quick tips from Taylor Brown that you can use when you are teaching via video – either live or recorded. 

THE EYE OF THE LENS IS THE EYE OF THE VIEWER
It’s ok to look away. Constant direct eye contact is weird and creepy. Try to be as normal as you would in person, looking away, up in thought, down at notes, etc.

LESS VOLUME; MORE POWER
Low volume makes people lean in. You are speaking into someone’s earbuds or speakers. Use the opportunity to speak softly, forcing them to really listen closely.

Pauses create weight. Don’t rush through what you are teaching. Pause to allow them to think, reconnect, or even laugh.

Looking for youth group lessons to do with your youth group online? Check out our newest release:

Uncertainty: A new 6-pack of youth group lessons helping students wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic and other uncertain times. In addition to the 6 lessons, you get a bonus Easter lesson from our new SHOOK series. All the lessons are designed for you to deliver on Zoom or other video platforms.

A new 6-pack of youth group lessons helping students wrestle with the COVID-19 pandemic and other uncertain times. In addition to the 6 lessons, you get a bonus Easter lesson from our new SHOOK series.

36 thoughts on “ZOOM YOUTH GROUP: DO’S, DON’TS AND ALTERNATIVES

  • April 6, 2020 at 7:26 am
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    I would take caution when using google hangout. I leader of mine who teaches in the school said they learned the hard way – in google – the teacher can leave, but the kids can actually stay on without supervision. They moved away from that platform right away; and moved to zoom where there are many more controls for the host. I just caution to look for programs where the host or their designated host can end the meeting for all participants.

    Reply
    • April 8, 2020 at 11:41 am
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      We moved to Zoom at school for the reason, but stuck with Google Meet/Hangouts to use with our youth. We just find it friendlier for the kids and better quality. Students can make these on their own so staying on past the leaders really isn’t a huge concern for us.

      Google is working on fixes and those should be available soon.

      Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 7:41 am
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    Thank you for this information 🙂

    Reply
    • April 6, 2020 at 3:37 pm
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      Thanks for this it’s really informative as we are just about to set up a zoom meeting group for the youths and teens in my church. God bless you for the work you do.

      Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 8:29 am
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    This looks like a great platform to allow us to continue with our youth ministry. Would iy be possible for you to send one online zoom lesson for free for us to see what it is like s as nd how it would work via zoom.
    I don’t want to purchase the package until I can see what it looks like and how it will work with 30 plus kids.
    Thank you and God bless

    Reply
    • April 6, 2020 at 11:09 am
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      Adele, I will have Kristy email you a sample lesson sometime today.

      Reply
      • April 6, 2020 at 5:11 pm
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        Thank you for the information! It’s helpful
        Can I have a free sample lesson that I can see if it’s fitted to our preteens fellowship
        Many thanks

        Reply
        • April 12, 2020 at 7:01 am
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          Thanks for the information. Cit was very helpful. Can u also send me a sample zoom lesson?

          Thanks.

          Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 11:10 am
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    These are awesome points you shared. Thank you very much!

    Reply
    • April 20, 2020 at 12:41 pm
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      Hi Thank you for the information I found it to be very helpful.
      Can you send me a Free Bible lesson also, to review prior to bbn purchasing.
      Thank you.
      Carol

      Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 1:02 pm
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    By any chance you know a program you may host a movie online and watch with everyone virtually

    Reply
      • April 8, 2020 at 3:57 am
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        I may be wrong, but a Zoom host could play the movie on their PC/Laptop and ‘share screen’… would that work?

        Reply
        • April 8, 2020 at 12:02 pm
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          Leo, I think that would work. Might want to try it out beforehand and see.

          Reply
          • April 8, 2020 at 12:41 pm
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            I played a YouTube video for my group in our Zoom breakout room last night via the “share screen” function and it worked fine. 👍🏽👍🏽

        • April 9, 2020 at 8:42 am
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          In theory it works but we have run into some issues. First, some devices seem to prevent the video from being played directly in Zoom. Even when we got around this, connection speed is a big concern. We’ve been watching short clips for our lessons and often deal with lag, freezing, and sound not matching the video. This could be very annoying throughout an entire movie. Obviously in these times it might be the best that we can do. Just a heads up!

          Reply
    • April 8, 2020 at 11:39 am
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      There is a Chrome extension called “Netflix Party” that we are going to use this week to watch “The Case for Christ” together with our youth. It has to be used in Google Chrome, so a computer, laptop, or Chromebook is required.

      https://www.netflixparty.com/

      Reply
    • April 22, 2020 at 7:02 am
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      Hello I’m new to your site. Can you send me a sample lesson so I can see if it’ll work for my group before purchasing? Thanks.

      Reply
  • April 6, 2020 at 1:45 pm
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    Thank you so much for the information. I used Zoom for my Youth Group which is very small. But I had used it for some Church meetings recently so I already found some of the kinks. I did a Scavenger Hunt and the Palm Sunday message. It worked out great. I appreciate your site so much as a leader of a small youth group and a Church with a limited if no budget. Take care

    Reply
  • April 7, 2020 at 7:49 am
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    Our group just recently purchased the Uncertainty package a few days ago. What is the difference in the Zoom material?

    Reply
    • April 7, 2020 at 10:20 am
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      Brandi,
      It is the same. We made the lessons Zoom friendly so that you all can do discussions together over video.

      Reply
  • April 7, 2020 at 3:53 pm
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    Who you please send me a sample Zoom meeting lesson so that I can see how it is like before purchasing

    Reply
  • April 27, 2020 at 7:36 pm
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    Would love to see a sample lesson as well please.

    Reply
  • April 29, 2020 at 8:06 am
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    Thanks for the information. I haven’t use Zoom as of yet for my Youth Group. But I have used it for Adult Bible Teaching and Church meetings. I appreciate your site so much as a leader of a small youth group and a Church with a limited. Would love a sample lesson please.

    Reply
  • April 29, 2020 at 1:43 pm
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    Could you send me a free online zoom session to look at.

    Reply
  • May 25, 2020 at 8:20 am
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    May I see a sample lesson along with promotional artwork? Thank you!

    Reply

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