I was ten years old living on Flathead Lake in Montana when our family purchased our first dog. He came with a pedigree and had a royal sounding name–Count Tour Zoom Saber Jet Ryder. That was a long name for a dog. We called him “Zoom.”  I can still remember calling out to him…”Here Zoom, here Zoom.” But Zoom fell into bad company and began to run into the woods with the neighborhood dogs. One day he even chased a deer out into the lake and mauled it so badly the game warden had to put the deer down. When we moved into Kalispell he continued in his wild ways, getting into fights with the neighborhood dogs. Eventually, we had to give him to a pig farmer. I heard reports later on that he was getting into it with the pigs. 
Today I have rediscovered the value of “Zoom.” This time around it’s not the dog I am talking about, but rather the program that allows us to connect socially with one another during these isolated times. Although the Zoom application has been around for a long time, I had only been on as an invitee to meetings on occasion. But with everything shutting down in our society, I have been prompted to revisit the value of Zoom for expanding the opportunities for us to initiate meetings and gatherings online. The week before churches starting shutting down, I wrote a blog encouraging churches to turn to live-streaming their services and using Zoom for meetings instead of face to face encounters. This week we upgraded from the free version of Zoom that limits your time and number of attendees to the Pro version. That will allow us to have up to 100 participants for an unlimited amount of time. 
We just barely a week into this, but already we have used Zoom to hold a family meeting with our adult children and our grandkids, reconnect with a long-standing men’s group that I haven’t been able to attend for 15 years and teach an online journalism class to our “stay at home” grandchildren called “Nani’s Newsletters.” We celebrated my sister’s 50th Anniversary online with a virtual toast with the siblings, and anticipate larger family gatherings in the future. We will hold our next board meeting online using Zoom, and plan to convene consulting meetings and coaching appointments with clients in our ministry. We can also support enrollees in our online video course Re-Ignite U using Zoom. The possibilities seem endless. In fact, we are finding a larger audience for online connectivity than we might even have if we could show up in person. 
We’d love to explore with you how we can all be better connected during these trying times. And while the story of Zoom the dog didn’t turn out so well for me, I’m confident that this new version of Zoom will bring many benefits to our life and our ministry in the future.
 written by Richard Bergstrom
President, ChurchHealth/Re-Ignite
©March 2020
Images by Canstock