Zoom Guidelines and Best Practice

Zoom Guidelines

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a significant change in our use of technology for church gatherings both large and small. With this this change has come new opportunities, and new risks. Like any tool, software or otherwise, Zoom can be used for health or harm. Used properly, we believe that it is still appropriate for the needs of our parishes, provided that certain guidelines are followed.


Zoom regularly releases updates to address security issues. They have recently released Zoom version 5, and will require users to update to this version by the end of May 2020. Please update your own zoom client, and advice those who join your meeting to the latest version by going to https://www.zoom.us/download or select "check for updates" in Zoom settings.


It is important to distinguish between "public" and "private" zoom meetings. A public "zoom-church" is like a regular congregational gathering - a place where there might be - indeed, we hope there WILL be - "outsiders" present who will hear us talk about the gospel of our Lord Jesus. When you publish a link to a "public" zoom meeting (e.g., Sunday church), you need to assume that it will not just be the members of your congregation who could attend.

A greater degree of vigilance (and tighter security settings) are needed for “public” zoom meetings.

General Guidelines for “public” Zoom Meetings to minimise inappropriate content.

Note: many security settings can only be accessed from the zoom web interface. The italics instructions below refer to the section of the zoom web interface.  To get to the Zoom web interface from within the Zoom client, go to Settings – “View More Settings”. Some of these settings are only available for the zoom account holder, and are not accessible for co-hosts or other participants.


  • Turn off screen-sharing for all participants. (In Meeting (Basic) - Screen Sharing - Host Only)
    Only the host (which includes designated co-hosts) should be allowed to share screens.  
  • Turn on Co-Hosts. (In Meeting (Basic) - Co-Hosts)
    This will allow the host to nominate co-hosts who will be able to screen-share, spotlight and evict those behaving inappropriately.  
  • Turn on Waiting Rooms. (In Meeting (Advanced) - Waiting Rooms)
    Use a waiting room as a gateway into ‘public’ meetings, to screen out potential troublemakers.
  • Keep troublemakers out. (In Meeting (Basic) - Allow removed participants to rejoin - disable)
  • Turn off “Join before host”. (Schedule Meeting – Join before Host - disable)
  • Mute audio on enter by default. (Schedule Meeting - Mute participants upon entry)
  • Disable private chats. (In Meeting (Basic) - Private Chat)
    This will prevent one participant initiating an inappropriate conversation in private.
  • Disable annotation. (In Meeting (Basic) - Annotation)
    This will prevent trolls drawing inappropriate material on a shared screen
  • Consider disabling “file transfer”. (In Meeting (Basic) - File transfer)
    This will prevent inappropriate content being posted.
  • Consider disabling “virtual backgrounds”. (In Meeting (Advanced) – Virtual background)
    This is only necessary if someone tries to use this as a way to share inappropriate content.
  • Limit Impersonation. (In Meeting (Basic) - Allow participants to rename themselves - Disable)


We recommend the use of passwords on zoom meetings, as this reduces the possibility that someone will randomly guess a 9 or 10 digit meeting code. Note however that this complicates the process for those dialing-in by telephone.

  • Designate a co-host to actively monitor and remove trouble-makers. Use settings (see above) to prevent a trouble-maker who has been evicted from re-joining.
  • Do not publish the zoom links of "private" meetings (such as home bible study) on a publicly available website.
  • Ideally, a responsible adult (eg. a parent) should be physically present with a child who is in a zoom meeting. Where a parent is not present, there should be two safe-ministry trained adults in any zoom room (or breakout room) where there is an unsupervised child. If this is not possible, the zoom meeting or breakout room must be recorded for safe ministry purposes. See further the PSU guidelines below.

Additional Safe Ministry Guidelines for ZOOM re. Ministry to Youth and Children

Follow these principles from PSU

  1. Video conferencing meetings should be run on church-owned account
  2. Parents should be clearly informed of the meeting details prior to the event
  3. Parental consent is required
  4. A “Waiting Room” (or similar) should be used
  5. Video conference meetings should be recorded where there is only one leader
  6. The video conference should allow only the host to share screens.
  7. “Breakout rooms” (or similar) can be used within a scheduled meeting

For details, see the Safe Ministry site

Template permission form here

Template for document that can be sent to parents and youth to explain how Zoom should be used here

If you are recording a meeting, turn on Settings – Recordings - Recording disclaimer

Guidelines for Hosting Zoom-church

  • The zoom meeting needs a dedicated “host” who can be focussed on managing the group experience. In most cases, this should be someone other than the minister who is leading or preaching. The host can appoint multiple co-hosts.
  • Mute participants’ audio by default. 
  • Where a participant is contributing a pre-agreed section (eg. Bible reader, prayer), they can unmute themselves and speak at the appropriate time, and then mute themselves afterwards. The host should “spotlight” them as the signal to start speaking. (Alternatively, the host can spotlight and unmute that participant)
  • If a participant wishes to speak in a sharing context (eg. sharing prayer points), they should unmute themselves and wait until the host invites them to contribute.
  • The host should use the Spotlight feature to put the focus on the bible reader / preacher / prayer at the right time, so that they are seen in full screen mode.
  • Use settings to ensure that only the host can share screens (see above). This includes a co-host. Where another participant needs to share a screen, temporarily make them a co-host.
  • Use the share screen feature to share powerpoint slides – eg. bible reading, prayer points.
  • Ensure that you have a CCLI licence AND a CCLI streaming licence if you are using copyrighted music in your service.

Guidelines for Broadcasting Video and Audio via zoom

Zoom Share Screen options


  • Experiment with In Meeting (Advanced) - Allow users to select original sound in their client settings
    See further
  • Enable Stereo audio In Meeting (Advanced)-Allow users to select stereo audio in their client settings./it>
  • Enable Stereo audio in Zoom Client Settings - Audio Settings - Enable Stereo Sounds

Tips for Performing Live Music in Zoom meetings


  1. Go to Zoom/Preferences/Audio. Note that "Automatically adjust microphone volume" should NOT be enabled.
    Zoom auddio Settings options
  2. Click the "Advanced" Button. ENABLE Orignal Sound, and DISABLE both options for Background Noise Suppression
    Zoom auddio Settings options2
  3. On the main zoom screen, toogle to "Use Original Sound". Note that when you are using Original sound, the screen will say "Turn off Original Sound"
    Zoom auddio Settings options3

Preventing Audio Problems

  • Advise participants who are physically in the same location on multiple devices that they can only have one microphone unmuted at the same time in any one room - otherwise there will be a  feedback or echo loop created. Also, unless the unmuted participant has a directional microphone, the other participant in the same room might need to use headphones (or temporarily turn down their speakers) to prevent audio loops.
  • Participants using dial-in should not use phones in hands-free mode - this can create audio loops.

Guidelines for Using Breakout Rooms

    Enabling breakout rooms -  In Meeting (Advanced) – Breakroom Rooms
    More here
  • Pre-assign participants to breakout rooms (host)
    More here
  • Managing breakout rooms
    More here
  • Participating in breakout rooms (includes how to record)
    More here
  • Using Virtual Backgrounds for Sermon Outlines

    1. Create sermon outlines in Powerpoint and “Save-As” as a series of JPEG images. Import the JPEG images (one by one) as virtual backgrounds.
    2. Experiment as to whether you will position yourself to the right of the slide or in the centre, and arrange the slide layout according.
    3. Have the “Virtual Backgrounds” window open in a corner of your screen (or on a second screen) with this having the focus. Use the right arrow key to move to the next slide at the appropriate time as you are preaching 

Engaging people without internet using Zoom

It is possible for people without internet access to join Zoom meetings. They can do so on any telephone.

  • When you schedule a zoom meeting, under 'Audio' click 'Telephone and computer audio'.
  • Preferably do not require a password, as this makes it easier to join by phone.
  • Notify participants of the dial-in phone number (usually 8015 6011) and the meeting number. Tell them they will need to enter the meeting number, followed by #, and that when they are asked for a participant number they simply press # again.
  • The person's telephone number will show on the host's screen alongside the video participants. The host should invite them to introduce themselves by name.

Song lyrics using closed captions

Macquarie Anglican has created a tool for Zoom Church meetings which automates the process of sending song lyrics to a Zoom Meeting using Closed Captions. This enables the band to lead the congregation live in singing without having to use a screen share for lyrics.

The tool is here and there is a brief tutorial on how to use it here. Our thanks to Macquarie Anglican for this information.