Published by Michael Bigg on Sat, 16 May 2020 11:17

So you've set up Dial-a-Service and now people are able to participate in your live services on the telephone. How do you make that a great experience so that they are part of the service as much as possible? Thanks to Ayo (@aarespeaks) and to Frankie (our ALM) for some input on this!

1. Make sure it's hosted well

For the last few weeks our Dial-a-Service service has been hosted by Frankie, our brilliant ALM. Frankie acts as the conduit between the people on the phone and the rest of the service. Here's how she helps:

  • She welcomes people - when someone dials in she says hello! It's simple but important. She lets new callers know who is already listening so there's a sense of community.
  • She uses their names - when a new person calls she changes their "name" on Zoom from their phone number to their name so she can refer to them by name in communicating with them.
  • She describes what's going on - "The service is about to start". "Jason is consuming his bread and wine". "Today's reading is from Acts 2..."
  • She links through to the wider community - On the Church Online Platform chat (where most people are) she'll say: "Olive, Peter and Jean are listening in on the phone today", and will relay any messages back.
  • She explains - most first-time callers aren't used to conference calling and don't understand that they can talk to each other as well as listening. Frankie guides people through this new experience.

By making the people on the phone part of the service it helps them to engage and feel part of the worshipping community.

2. Think about the service itself

Can you build in opportunities for the people on the phone to engage with each other? For example:

  • Each week we have 5 minutes to share the Peace. During this time Frankie can turn down the volume level of the service and share the Peace with people on the phone and they can share it with one another. (In fact, this week I'll encourage people participating visually to dial in and share the Peace with those on the phone).
  • During the prayers we try to make some space for Frankie to invite prayer requests from people on the phone.
  • In lieu of the Gloria we sometimes share things we are thankful for. This is something that people on the phone can share in.

The service leader should refer to those on the phone in the welcome to the service. Make them feel like they are really part of it too, not an afterthought. If the service is live then can the service leader make a note of the names of people on the phone and greet them by name?!

(It's also nice if the service leader / minister can pop into the phone conversation in person at some point during the service to say hello).

3. Make an order of service available

If people don't have access to a computer, they probably can't print. We therefore print off and deliver a copy of the order of service (reasonably large print!) to those likely to listen in on the phone. This way they can follow the service more easily and participate in responses etc.

For the hymns try to put a copy of your hymn book through the door too (and make sure hymn numbers are on the Order of Service).


Telephone access is a great well to keep people connected to church during this time. We should be doing all we can to help people. It's been helpful to actually ask people on the phone what works and doesn't. I'd be really pleased to hear any other advice on this! What's your experience been?

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