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 are currently offering free access to the following video series:
- Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times by Adam Hamilton. This is an excellent study where Rev. Hamilton talks with a panel and interviews experts. He introduces a calm spirit and practical tools to get us all through these troubling times.
- Adult Bible Studies Spring 2020. These short videos accompany the quarterly Adult Bible Studies curriculum. The focus of this quarter is “life” and it discusses suffering as a context for hope and salvation. Supplementary content for these videos, as well as other free content, is available on the Adult Bible Studies free resources website.
- Lenten studies. Has your Lenten study group taken a break from meeting in person? You can still watch the videos online. Maybe try an online meeting with technology recommended by the NC Conference. Amplify is offering all of the videos from The Walk, Entering the Passion of Jesus, The Passion Play, The Grace of Les Miserables, and several more older studies for free.
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 three of these lessons for free download: Coronavirus, Loneliness, and Vaping and Panic.
- 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 their website.
- The NC Conference Center for Leadership Excellence is offering a free webinar on Thursday, March 26th at noon on “Living from the Spiritual Heart in a Time of Heightened Anxiety” with Rev. Winston Charles. 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! Currently in Beta version, 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!
Upper Room Free eCourse
The Upper Room, part of Discipleship Ministries of the UMC, is offering one of their eCourses for free until April 18th. The eCourse is Freedom from Worry by Patricia Wilson. It follows a pattern of 28 days of prayer, with each day’s content intended to reduce your anxiety level and instill practices of prayer and trust. The eCourse includes daily readings, audio recordings of scripture, reflection questions, mindfulness guides, and weekly videos with Pat. Use promo code FREEDOM when registering.
Other individual eCourses from Upper Room eLearning are being offered at half price. Use promo code URHALF when registering.
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 event 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 are “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.
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!
The Media Center maintains a page on our website for Online Resources. It includes most of the links here, as well as many other online studies, websites, ebooks, and more.