While many of us are staying home and church services have been canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic, we can still use free online resources to continue our spiritual growth. Read below for our recommendations. Also, check out our post on free Christian online resources for children and youth.
NC Conference Resources
The North Carolina Conference has a Coronavirus Response page with updates, frequently asked questions, and links to resources. Some of these resources include ideas for ministry, worship, and online connection.
Amplify is the video streaming platform from the United Methodist Publishing House. They offer free access to their webinars and the first sessions of some video series.
- Now & Next: How the Church is Changing for Good
- The Promise of Advent: Preparing for a Season of Hope during Unparalleled Times
- Justice, Love, and Humility: Pastoring A Divided Culture
Download Online Studies
The Media Center keeps a list of online resources in our online catalog. The list includes small-group studies, websites, and ebooks. Here are a few that we recommend:
- The Way of Integrity: Living in Right Relationship with Self, Others, and God. This 4-session study from the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women is easily adaptable to a sermon series, use in spiritual formation groups, Sunday School classes, youth ministry, campus ministry, and other settings. Through deep exploration of scripture and other resources, participants will give intentional attention to core values and the development of self-awareness in all they do. Additional online studies from COSROW at this same link focus on the names for God, images of God, and women in ministry.
- Belton Joyner’s Bible Study. The NC Conference’s own Rev. Belton Joyner writes a weekly bible study based on the scripture lessons of Cokesbury’s Adult Bible Study series. These short lessons are posted monthly on the NC Conference website. You can also sign up to receive them through email.
- FaithLink. FaithLink from Cokesbury offers ready-to-use lessons that connect faith to the issues and events making headlines every day. They have posted several of these lessons for free download. Scroll down the page to find the links. Some of the free lesson titles are Coronavirus, Caring for Widows, and Loneliness.
- Implicit Bias: What We Don’t Think We Think. This 3-session study from The General Commission on Religion and Race can be used with individuals, groups, or as sermon prep. Each session offers reflective devotions, teaching and questions on implicit bias, possible texts with thought threads, and sermon prep. Leaders can pick and choose what works best for their context. Another option would be to enroll in the self-paced online course based on this workbook.
- Vital Conversations. This video series from The General Commission on Religion and Race features thought leaders, pastors, theologians, activists, authors, and scholars who share their stories, insights, and expertise on issues related to faith, culture, and fighting oppression in the church and world today. Topics include race, mission, refugees, LGBTQ persons, being the church, and much more. Reflection questions for each video are included.
- A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: A Faith-Based Discussion Companion. Sony Pictures invited Discipleship Ministries of The United Methodist Church to produce the official faith-based study guide to accompany the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” The film stars Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys and can currently be rented online. The study guide is designed to help groups learn to process feelings, understand forgiveness, talk about hard things, seek reconciliation, and practice positive spiritual discipline.
- The “E-Word” Group Study Guide. The Foundation for Evangelism offers this study guide to go along with their “Evangelism for Non-Evangelists” webinar series. The sessions have a biblical and theological grounding in the Wesleyan tradition while asking culturally relevant questions to help you look at current practices, motivation, and outcomes with exercises to challenge you to go beyond “what we’ve always done” and dream for what God is calling you to. More resources, including videos and an online course, are available on The Foundation for Evangelism website.
- Becoming the Church Together: Immigration, the Bible, and Our New Neighbors. The North Carolina Council of Churches offers this curriculum to study the Bible and see how it addresses the issue of modern-day immigration. Each lesson focuses on Scripture while incorporating prayer, activities, videos, and reflection questions to help everyone investigate how faith in Christ affects views on immigration. The NCCC has additional free curriculum on its website.
- COVID-19 Bible Studies. The World Council of Churches offers several free online Bible studies related to COVID-19. These short lessons that can be read online are perfect for a virtual small group.
- The NC Conference Center for Leadership Excellence is offering free weekly webinars on topics relevant to our current times. You can also view recordings of their past webinars on topics such as change, conflict, innovation, resilience, and more.
- Learn + Lead. The Missouri Conference has been hosting these webinars that are archived on their website. Topics include small groups, prayer, missions, leadership, and more.
- Market Square Publishing. This United Methodist publisher has archived the webinars they have hosted with their authors. Topics include Wesleyan grace, lay ministry, communication, ministry tips, and more.
- Discipleship Ministries of the UMC. These archived webinars are divided into ministry areas so you are sure to find something of interest to you. The long list includes adults, children, families, lay ministry, leadership, small groups, Methodism, and more.
RedeemTV is a brand new streaming service for Christian videos, and it is completely free! Redeem TV offers access to tons of new and classic Christian videos for all ages. Many of the DVDs in the NC Conference Media Center that are published by Vision Video and Christian History Institute can now be viewed on this streaming platform. It includes movies, series, documentaries, biblical dramatizations, animated children’s videos, bible studies, and more. All you have to do is sign up for a free account!
The North Carolina Institute for Spiritual Direction and Formation is offering weekly “Faith Connections” through ZOOM meetings for online discussion of Richard Rohr’s free Daily Meditations. Read more about this opportunity on their Facebook events page.
Chuck Knows Church: Things WE Can Do
The “Chuck Knows Church” online video series has partnered with #SeeAllthePeople from Discipleship Ministries to offer Things WE Can Do to share a few simple ideas that your church can do to help your community during this time of crisis. The videos offer suggestions such as “Make a Call,” “Grocery Run,” and “Drop a Note.”
Discipleship Ministries has also posted a page full of Resources for Responding to COVID-19 Outbreak.
Daily Practices for Social Distancing
Rethink Church, a ministry of The United Methodist Church, offers this series of videos that demonstrate spiritual practices that could be helpful during social distancing. Some of the practices included are:
- Centering prayer
- Lectio Divina
- Celtic prayer of healing
- Finding the helpers
- Examen questions
- Virtual prayer stations
Finding Courage in Challenging Times Ebook
Chalice Press has compiled excerpts from 9 of their books to provide comfort, hope, and help in these anxious times. Hear from pastors, spiritual directors, professors, parents, and others about sustaining hope and creating courageous communities that can weather life’s challenges. This 85-page ebook features prayers, practical resources, curriculum ideas, conversation starters, inspiration, and hope for you and your communities in the days and weeks ahead. The books featured are: Help & Hope, Fear Not, Sustaining Hope in an Unjust World, For Such a Time as This, Dessert First, Ash & Starlight, 99 Prayers Your Church Needs (But Doesn’t Know it Yet), When Kids Ask Hard Questions, and Available Hope.
Moving Groups Online
United Methodist Communications posted this helpful article with 9 tips for starting online small groups. If your group is already established and moving to online meetings, or if you are starting new groups, you’ll find some great advice here. Another helpful article from UMCom offers 6 digital tools to build community in small groups.
Join our Facebook Community
The NC Conference Media Center hosts a Facebook group for United Methodist Small Group Leaders (and those who resource them). Join the group where we are sharing tips and ideas about online resources and hosting online groups. Also, make sure you like the NC Conference Media Center Facebook page!