Video conferencing is a great, mostly free tool that is available to church leaders to help make ministry meetings convenient and productive. Virtual meetings provide a great service to teams working at a distance or those who would like to avoid commuting and take advantage of being able to meet from any location with ease.
Virtual and visual collaboration has been made even easier by the recent flood of user-friendly online tools and video conferencing apps. Camera-ready laptops, smartphones, and desktop computers with added cameras further streamline the process and make convening a video conference quick and simple.
Depending on what features and functions your meetings require, there is a video conferencing app to meet it. Virtual conferences can be used for team meetings, training, interviewing new hires, virtual bible study, and much more. Meeting virtually opens up a world of possibilities for pastors, church leaders, and communicators.
Here are 7 video conferencing apps church leaders can start using today:
#1 – Zoom
Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing platform offering easy to use software for virtual meetings, conferences, webinars, online courses, and training. Features include HD voice and video; simultaneous screen share; join by telephone call-in; virtual background; reporting; recording; group messaging; integrated scheduling; and premium audio. Paid plans include additional features.
Free – Basic plan; Pro – $14.99; Business – $19.99; Enterprise – $19.99+
#2 – Google Hangouts/ Google Meet
Google Hangouts is an online platform that offers video conferencing as part of its integration with Gmail and G Suite accounts. Features include free conferencing for up to 10 participants and screen sharing. Google Meet is a new service that was quietly launched in 2017 that is an enhanced version of Hangouts that supports high-definition video meetings with up to 30 participants in an expanded capacity, and is included with and managed by the G-Suite account administrator.
Basic – Free; G Suite, Basic – $5/month; Business – $10/month; Enterprise – $15/month
#3 – GoToMeeting
GoToMeeting is an online meeting and web conferencing platform for connecting people and teams virtually and was initially created to enable screen sharing. Features now include one-click meetings and recording; call me to join meeting; co-browsing and break-out sessions; meeting scheduler; built-in audio; HD video; join from mobile or desktop; desktop/application sharing; drawing tools; hand over control; and virtual whiteboards. Premium accounts included additional features.
Free – 14-day trial; Starter – $19/month; Pro – $29/month; Plus – $49/month
#4 – join.me
Join.me is an online software product offering video conferencing and online meetings with screen sharing capabilities. Features include one-click screen sharing; file transfer; internet calling; share control; unlimited audio with international conference lines; recording; meeting tools; meeting scheduler with calendar plugins; customized link options; meeting lock; and reporting features.
Free – Limited Get Started Option; Lite – $10/month; Pro – $20/month; Business – $30/month
(Bonus: join.me also offers nonprofit pricing)
#5 – ezTalks
ezTalks is a web-based video conferencing tool allowing users to host free HD-quality video conferences for up to 100 people for 40-minute meetings. Paid plans offer additional features included unlimited call times. Features include group video/audio conferencing in HD; screen and file sharing; whiteboard and other collaboration tools; instant messaging for group/private chat; recording; and playback.
Starter – Free; Professional – $12.99; Enterprise – contact for pricing
#6 – Skype
Skype is the veteran video chat and conferencing tool that is now part of Microsoft. Still offering free personal video calls, it now also has a paid Skype for Business plan option. Features include free conferencing for up to 10 people; screen sharing; and file sharing. Skype for Business accounts offer additional and expanded services like collaboration tools, cloud storage, large group meetings, and scheduling.
Free – Basic; Skype for Business – prices related to Office 365 integration
#7 – Amazon Chime
AmazonChime is a new application that is part of Amazon’s suite of business tools that can be used for secure online video conferencing across all devices. Free services include conferencing for up to three participants only, but paid subscriptions offer more. Features include screen sharing, remote desktop controls; group chat; person to person controls; calls up to 100 participants; and a pay-as-you-go pricing structure. Pricing is per user per month, without any prior commitment, and users can make changes to subscriptions at any time.
Free 30-day trial; Basic – Free; Plus – $2.50/month per user; Pro – $15/month per user
Convenient and Indispensable
With the wealth of video conferencing apps to choose from it is helpful for church leaders to remember that you don’t have to be limited to one app. Choosing one app for larger conference needs and another for smaller ones or for conferences that require screen-sharing or a virtual workspace is okay.
The great news is that whatever the need, there is a video conference solution for your church. Meeting in real time to connect and learn with ministry teams and church leaders is preferred, but when virtual conferencing is required, desired or is just more convenient it sure is nice to know there are so many great (and free) options available.