Maximizing Zoom for the Small Church: CA Congregation Adjusts in Crisis
By Mykaela Alvey
In the midst of uncertainty and worldwide adjustments, it would be easy assuming that churches, traditionally a place of face-to-face fellowship and worship, might be struggling under the weight of social distancing. It is in times like these, however, that churches can display that it is not a building but people who fashion the body of Christ. Pastor Dayton Kitterman and his congregation at Faith Community Church of God, Visalia, California, like most other churches, have moved their services online. However, unlike many churches who stream their services through media like Facebook or YouTube, the congregation has taken a simpler approach.
Zoom calls have become their primary means of worship and fellowship. This unique arrangement works well for the small size of the congregation, offering the whole church body the opportunity to interact, creating a time of true fellowship. Unlike web streaming, Zoom allows anyone who is on the call to talk and ask questions. Pastor Kitterman, who has led the congregation since 1989, says that this has been a blessing because “people [are] sharing concerns, frustrations, [and] requests more openly.” His congregation has been more intentional about “checking on the physical needs of one another and [have a] willingness to share materially with each other.”
God is not confined to a building, and Kitterman knows God is still working in the midst of this situation. “I have observed people in my flock being intentionally connected via Zoom, text, and voice calls. In the past we were connecting at our church gatherings. We would spend about half of our gathering time visiting and connecting. It was natural and without structure. Now, people are initiating calls.”
COVID-19 has been a constant for several months now, so it is easy to become surrounded by the negatives. Pastor Kitterman says that he feels his congregation is more connected than ever before, despite this virus. But this time is not without its challenges. “My church loves to sing…. For a couple weeks, we had a vocal-only leader. But now we have found how to address the audio in Zoom and this past week we had effective piano accompaniment. Now we are able to sing. By adding the singing there is a greater sense of ‘normal’ in our Zoom gathering…. But we are really missing seeing each other in person and having dynamic interactive worship again.”
The response of God’s people to the present crisis speaks volumes to people we don’t even realize are paying attention. Despite the challenges, Pastor Kitterman and his congregation have found a way to find joy in a season of uncertainty and commitment in a season where many might want to give in to despair.
Kitterman shares confidence amid COVID-19, confidence which ought to inspire pastors everywhere. “I will lead my church through this,” he reflects, “and we will see how God works.”
For more information about this central California church, visit www.faithcommunityvisalia.com.
Anderson University alumna Mykaela Alvey is a funding US missionary based in Greenwood, Indiana. A freelance writer for three years, she loves crafting stories of hope and healing.
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway.
*Feature (top) photo: Faith Community Church of God is a small, but loving congregation in Visalia, California (photo taken pre-pandemic).