Online Meetings: Appear.in, Google Hangouts and YouTube Live Hangouts
As a missionary in Bolivia for 15 years, my wife and I planted multiple churches. Our Sucre church had an incredible base of young college students. We had meetings all the time, and it seemed like they just wanted more... and more... and more! We had hundreds of small groups leaders. It was great because apart from our Sunday service, each leader would have two small group meetings weekly (one with their leader and one with their small group), a monthly leadership service, monthly weekend retreat, as well as any extracurricular meetings that we would have.
Needless to say, in returning to the US to plant our church, we've found that Americans (and even Hispanics living in America) don't have that sort of time. In today's high-speed society, we are faced with a tough issue. Our people need to grow, especially leaders... but how do we do it when they have no time and are constantly bombarded with work, school and life in general?
The answer is found online! We need to be leveraging these online meeting tools to further our ministries... and that's what we dive into in this lesson. For online meetings, at this point (and this is an ever-moving target), I recommend the following three services; Appear.in (Now Whereby.com, Google Hangouts & YouTube Live w/ Google Hangouts on Air. (Online meetings are different than live streaming your service. We'll talk about that in the next lesson) There are definitely some good paid options out there too, but in my opinion they are not worth the cost.
Appear.inAppear.in (Now WhereBy.com) is just about as simple as its name. You go to Appear.in, start a video chat room (No Login Required!) You share that chatroom link with others and you are ready to go. Up to 8 people at a time can log in and use it on the free version. If you create an account (which is free) you can claim a room and use that chatroom forever. You can also lock it, kick people out, etc. Apart from video, you can share your screen, share just one application window, etc. There is a premium version which allows you to have as many as 12 in the room at a time, along with several other benefits.
For personal, online meetings, I would recommend Appear.in over any of the other options. because of the simplicity of it.
Google HangoutsGoogle Hangouts has been around for quite awhile, and it is a great option. It is similar to Appear.in. Google Hangouts has just upped its number of participants to 25, so that is definitely a plus. What it doesn't have that Appear.in does have are named rooms. With Google Hangouts, every time you create a new video "call", it creates a new link that you need to share with your attendees. You can get around that in a way by using Google Calendars and creating "events" that have a video call added to them. https://support.google.com/calendar/answer/72143?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en&vid=0-997507136494-1481972034057
As with Appear.in, Google Hangouts also does not offer a way to permanently record your meetings.
YouTube Live w/ Google Hangouts on Airhttps://www.youtube.com/dashboard?o=U. As many wonderful services that Google provides, they are definitely a moving target. They are continually adding new services, changing them, changing the names, removing them, etc. YouTube Live and Google Hangouts on Air were just recently two separate services, but they have now been merged into one service with different options.
YouTube Live w/Google Hangouts on Air offer a similar service to Google Hangouts (w/ a maximum of 10 active participants), but instead of being ONLY for those participants, an unlimited number of people can watch live. It is broadcast as a YouTube Live event and is then recorded so that others can watch at a later time. You can make that video public, unlisted (so that only those with the link can watch), or private. You can also embed your live events or recorded events on your website.