“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
He is risen! He is risen indeed! We’ve just celebrated that good news on Easter Sunday; it’s only natural that we should deliver it to others. But how do we do that, given the circumstances? How do we share Christ without sharing COVID?
As this pandemic has unfolded, Christian writers have produced scores of articles to help us think of new ways to reach out to those around us and share the gospel while maintaining social distancing. I’ll share one resource at the end of this post and offer a few of my own ideas. But perhaps methods are not our main issue. I think what we really need is some perspective and encouragement. While sharing the gospel today may take a little more creativity than it did a month ago, the main things that go into effective evangelism remain the same. God is not surprised by the pandemic, and he’s given us everything we need to proclaim the good news in the midst of it—if only we’ll believe that and take a step of faith.
Over the past six months, many in our church attended our Relational Evangelism class. We believe that most people come to faith these days through a meaningful relationship with a believer—a relationship in which love and hospitality are exchanged, hard questions are asked, and the gospel is spoken. And we still believe that!
In the age of social distancing, relationships matter more than ever, particularly for evangelism. Everyone is craving human connection these days, and by now most have realized that scrolling Facebook is a poor substitute. Neighbors seem more present than ever. Folks who once seemed to never leave the house are out walking, gardening, and finding any excuse to be outside. Long-distance friends and relatives are eager to connect by phone or video chat. And acquaintances who previously stuck to small talk are suddenly opening up about deeper things. Despite the limitations of social distancing, there are plenty of ways to connect with non-believers around us, some of which didn’t exist a few weeks ago. God can use our present circumstances to bring people to saving faith in Christ. And he can use us, if we’re willing to see the opportunities.
You Have Everything You Need
Perhaps the stay-at-home order was exactly the push we needed in order to make progress in evangelism. It’s a bit like God taking off the training wheels. There are no classes to take, no special events to invite people to, not even a service to attend (at least not in person). I long for us to have those things again. But for right now, you have everything you need. You have the Holy Spirit. You have ingenuity, and gifts, and countless resources you can use to love and serve others. You know the gospel. And you have a neighborhood and a contact list full of people who need to know it. You have everything you need. So take a step of faith.
I’ve been encouraged to hear that many in our church family are doing just that. I’ve heard stories of our brothers and sisters meeting the physical needs of their vulnerable neighbors, using their creativity and skills (especially baking skills!) to bring people joy, and simply being a listening ear for people who are anxious or lonely. Others in our church have begun meeting weekly on Zoom to pray for God to use this time to save people. And some have seized opportunities with neighbors, patients, and co-workers to talk about where their hope comes from: their resurrected Lord.
God has given you everything you need to do the same. Will you choose to see the opportunities around you each day? What intentional step of faith will you take this week to love your neighbors and share the gospel? Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
1) Pray for God to use this time to bring people to faith. Pray for yourself, your community group, and our church to become bold, kind, and effective evangelists.
2) Join our evangelistic prayer meeting every Monday from 8-9pm on Zoom. We’ll pray for our church, our community, and the people whom you’re reaching out to personally. You can find more info on the COVID-19 Resource Page.
Connect and Care
1) Stop and talk to a neighbor you usually just wave to. Ask how they’re doing and what they need. Offer help and prayer.
2) Think of a creative (and sanitary) way to show your love and care to a non-believer in your life.
1) Make conversations count. Ask questions that go beyond small talk:
Where do you find hope in times like this?
Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
What do you think happens after death?
2) Share your COVID-19 testimony. What difference has it made to know Christ and belong to the body of Christ during this time?