Connecting via Skype

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Saturday morning I attended an event where a missionary family spoke face to face with a group of supporters from their living room in Vienna.  Jeffrey and Lisa Schra are coming to the end of their first year of service at the International Christian School of Vienna.  They and their two sons will not be returning to the US this summer, but they wanted to give a face to face report to their home church and some key individual supporters.  They invited me as a CRWM representative.  Sherman Street CRC organized some refreshments and some musical selections from Central Europe.  

Jeffrey and Lisa had prepared a video showing a day in their lives. The highlight was being face to face with them. The screen that is normally used for projecting worship songs was filled with the Schra family. Mary Buteyn, a member of the church, had been able to visit the Schras in Vienna, which added a touch of realism to the encounter. The 30 or so participants came away from the event with their connection to the Schras strengthened and with a deper understanding of the work their are doing as an extension of the church here.

Has your church used Skype to connect with missionaries at a distance?  This event happened on a Saturday.  What would you think of having a moment for missions by Skype as part of the regular worship service?

The school which the Schras serve began as a place to educate missionary kids.  However, it quickly broadened its mission to include educating other children including Austrians and a variety of expats living in Vienna.  This includes a number of non-Christian families who send their children to this distinctively Christian school.  You can read more about the school here.  

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Our church has used Skype with our missionary families for some time.  We began with Skype during Outreach team meetings and fundraisers for mission trips to help specific families.  We have grown to using Skype several times a year - live with the missionary families and now have added recorded Skype conversations on monthly basis.  We project the missionaries on the screens we normally use for song lyrics and run the sound through the church system.  Our favorite Skype calls are with Missionary families with small children and we have the children of our congregation sing to them.  This was difficult using a small web cam, but once we discovered we could use the church camcorder to allow the missionaries to see the children's faces and allow zoom and wide congregational views it became more of a blessing to the missionary families.  I highly recommend it!

  

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Skype has become a great way to connect with missionaries who are members of our congregation.  It has allowed us to bring them into our worship service to share prayer requests and to pray together. Skype isn't as good as a 'real' hug, but when missionaries are half-way around the world, it's a wonderful way to keep congregations and missionaries connected with one another, and to pray together.

Thanks to the leadership and encouragement of our worship leader Pam Rock and pastor John DeVries, the Mission Committee is recording Skype calls with our missionaries.  The recorded call is edited down in time to be shown during our Faith Promise offering, the last Sunday of every month.  It is great to remind the congregation where the money that they are contributing to Faith Promise is going.  So far the videos have been very well received.  A recorded call helps eliminate problems that can arise from unstable internet connections and missionaries being unavailable during the time we would like to hear from them.  Editing down a long conversation is a challenge!  So many topics and requests can be covered in a call.  One conversation was an hour and a quarter long.  This was edited down to a 8 minute video.  The videos have also been posted to youtube and we have a link from our church missionary page to the posted videos.  Not only is the video important to remind the congregation about the missionaries we support, what they are doing and their prayer requests, it is also a form of encouragement.  Missionaries face the same challenges that we all do in our daily lives, plus the added challenges that come from living in a foreign country.  Just knowing that their supporters know about these challenges and are praying for them as they face these challenges is an encouragement.  I would encourage everyone to give Skype a try, you won't be disappointed.

Hi David,

This is a great story about using technology to better connect.  Thanks for sharing.  Steve

Hi everyone.

Skype is being discussed in our church as a vehicle to 'connect' in real time with our missionaries. My question is; how

exactly is Skype set up, ie what is the technical setup, what web cam is prefered, wired or wireless computer?

Any feedback is appreciated.

Arnie