Evangelism and the Pandemic

To say the least, the 2020 pandemic has been upsetting.  Facemasks, curbside pickup, and social distancing have all been introduced into our daily routines.  The normal practices of church life have also been upset.  Pastors have learned how to live stream, congregants are spaced out, and the free coffee has been turned into hand sanitizer.  There is no doubt that 2020 has upset the ebb and flow of church life.

            This upset of church life has been incredibly hard on pastors. Pastors had to (and have) stepped up to the plate.  I have been so encouraged to see such creativity and hard work in the lives of pastors across the state of Kentucky.  There is no doubt that the Lord has enabled and blessed these pastors in incredible ways.  That is why I believe God can use them as they lead their churches to evangelize the lost in these difficult times.

            As these men of God have risen to the occasion, I am still being asked a similar question.  Pastors often ask, “How are we to do evangelism in the midst of a global pandemic?”  I would like to offer three insights about evangelism in the midst of a global pandemic.

  •  The Gospel is needed “in season” and “out of season.”  Paul wrote, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season. . .” 2 Timothy 4:2.  The global pandemic has revealed the brokenness of people.  A quick trip into social media displays many (and often negative) divisive opinions.  America is hurting in this particular season and it needs hope, the hope of the Gospel!  It may seem very difficult to lead a church to reach the lost in these times, but the lost need the Gospel in this season.  They need answers and they need hope that can only be provided through Jesus Christ.
  • Personal Evangelism may be the key.  When I pastored, I led our church to have many evangelistic outreach events every year.  We conducted outreaches like Vacation Bible School, Block Parties, and Revival Services.  The global pandemic is making these types of events very challenging (though I am hearing of creative alternatives like virtual vbs).  Even though event evangelism may be difficult in 2020, personal evangelism does not have to be difficult.

    People may be wearing a face mask, but you can still converse with people.  Just recently I was pumping gas and struck up a conversation with the person across from me.  I began to present the Gospel to this person and entered into a Gospel conversation.  That particular person prayed to receive Christ right at the gas pump!  The Gospel was able to travel from one person to another person while keeping a safe social distancing space of six feet.  

    I would encourage churches to begin to train their congregations in personal evangelism.  As church members are equipped to share their faith, they can be the beautiful feet that brings the good news in a global pandemic.  Remember, even if a person is vulnerable to the coronavirus, they can still share the Gospel using email, text messages, and good old fashioned phone calls.  The Gospel message can still travel forward through means such as this.  I would encourage pastors to mobilize their people for Gospel conversations for the remainder of 2020.
  •  Evangelize in a spirit of repentance.  You read that correctly.  I struggled with how I wanted to specifically define my third point, but I believe that sentence does state what I want to communicate.  One of my greatest challenges of the global pandemic has been the social distancing aspect of it.  I love to hug people, visit with people, and socialize.  Now, due to health reasons, we are discouraged from doing that.  Social distancing creates great challenges for door to door evangelism, event evangelism, and just simply interacting with strangers.  It could be argued that evangelism may have been easier in the pre-pandemic than it is now.  Sadly, not all of us where committed to evangelism in that pre-pandemic time.

    The pandemic has caused me to inwardly reflect and pray, “Lord forgive me for not taking the opportunities to evangelize, when I had them, during the pre-pandemic.”  The Lord is using the pandemic to create in me a spirit of repentance.  Even though it is harder, I must learn my lesson and be committed to sharing the Gospel with urgency (even in a global pandemic).  I pray that we can see the pandemic as a wakeup call to be serious about evangelism.  

    Recall this text from Ezekiel 3:17-19

    “Son of man, I have made you a watchman over the house of Israel. When you hear a word from my mouth, give them a warning from me.If I say to the wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ but you do not warn him—you don’t speak out to warn him about his wicked way in order to save his life—that wicked person will die for his iniquity. Yet I will hold you responsible for his blood. But if you warn a wicked person and he does not turn from his wickedness or his wicked way, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have rescued yourself.”

            2020 is half over.  The pandemic has depressed us for the first half of it, but the Gospel can encourage us for the second half.  I pray that these three thoughts will encourage you to be even more dedicated to evangelism (than you already are) during the second half of 2020.  

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