Hey, good Thursday afternoon to each of you. I am delighted that you’ve chosen to join us for this afternoon’s webinar. I want to begin by introducing the four of us that you can see on your panel right now.
First of all, my name is Daniel Wilson. I have the privilege of serving as your state evangelism director and in giving lead to evangelism efforts across Alabama.
With me, who also serves in our office, is Matt Burford. Matt is the apologetics specialist who also does evangelism training with us and he’s gonna be a part of the Q&A that we have later on in this webinar this afternoon.
Of course, Dr. Lance, our state executive director. He’s also joining us on a panel this afternoon, and in just a few moments, he’s going to bring a word of welcome and a word of prayer as we ask the Lord’s blessings on what we do here this afternoon.
Then, Dr. Matt Queen, he’s our guest for the hour. He’s our lecturer and presenter and we are honored and blessed to have Dr. Matt Queen to lead us in this training this afternoon.
Now here’s what brings us together today. It is the issue and the idea of evangelism in a time of social distancing. So that’s what all of us are doing, we are social distancing, we are sheltered in place, we are staying at home. Some have referred to quarantining, but the Great Commission is still in effect. We cannot, just because we’re staying at home, we cannot push pause on the Great Commission and so the gospel of Jesus Christ must continue to go forth. But we need to find some creative and new and innovative ways to share the gospel in these different types of days that we’re living in. That’s what Dr. Matt Queen is gonna help us learn how to do this afternoon, how to evangelize and carry out the Great Commission even while practicing social distancing and staying at home.
So in just a few moments, he’s going to lead us. But I wanna say another word about Matt Queen. Matt is a great teacher, professor, but I know him also as a friend and as a prayer warrior. Matt, I appreciate the fact that every time we have talked, you have always asked how you can pray for me and you’ve always taken the initiative to pray over me and needs in my life so thank you for being a man of prayer, as well as being a man who is passionate about the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you don’t know Matt Queen, he holds the chair of fire, which is the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We’re honored that you’re here today to speak to us and we anxiously wait to listen to what God has to teach us through you today.
Dr. Lance, please bring a word of welcome and pray over our time today.
Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity to be part of this experience, this webinar this afternoon, and I’m glad you’ve carved out some time to be able to focus on a very appropriate and apt discussion and presentation regarding evangelism in a time of social distancing.
I thought long about this, but we know that the gospel is not in quarantine so therefore we have an opportunity to reshape and reexamine, as well as refocus our efforts in looking to the future, the present and the future, related to evangelism. Let’s really join together and learn something new. Let iron sharpen iron and as we do so, we will be the better for it. God has something in store for us even in times of stress, uncertainty, as we’re now living.
Let’s pray that we will be more effective in evangelism. Let’s pray that our churches will be healthier even in the midst of this time in which we are not able to gather in person for worship. Let’s join together in prayer.
Father God, we thank You for the opportunity to be one of Your people and to collectively be able to be a part of a family that transcends all other connections, all other blood relationships because we find ourselves joined together, as a family, by the blood of Jesus Christ Himself. We thank you for the fact that He gave Himself on the cross for us. We are grateful that He is the resurrection power, the One who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” And the One who said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” We pray for Matt Queen as he leads us and we thank you for his ministry, as well. Help us this day to have our eyes open, our ears open to what you would have us to learn. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Matt Queen, we’re glad to have you with us today from Southwestern Seminary and it is now time for you to make your presentation and we’ll connect a little bit later.
Thank you so much Dr. Lance and Dr. Wilson and all those of you that are joining, I bring you greetings from Dr. Adam Greenway, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as our faculty and our trustees. I bring you greetings from them.
Just want to thank you, first and foremost, for your sacrificial gifts to the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s because of your sacrificial gifts, even in times like these, that we’re able to put on a webinar like this and also that Southwestern, just like your other five seminaries including Southwestern, are able to help shape and inform and teach and equip God-called men and women.
I just wanna say thank you to everyone that’s on the line, especially Dr. Lance and Dr. Wilson for this invitation. I do want to talk to you about evangelism in a time of social distancing, today. I wanna do that in two different ways.
First of all, I wanna talk about some reasons why it is imperative, not just a suggestion, not just something if we wanna do it ’cause we have a little bit of extra time. Of course, though, I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself actually more busy during this time than even before the time of social distancing. I wanna talk about some reasons why it is imperative that Alabama Baptists and others that are joining us from maybe other state conventions, but why Southern Baptists, and Christians, in particular, have to take the opportunity to evangelize in a time of social distancing. Then I want to talk to you about three specific ways, with some more generalities, that you or the people in your church would be able to capitalize on this very opportunity to share the gospel. Then we’ll have some times for some questions at the end.
I first of all just talk a little bit about some reasons why it is imperative that Christians, and even Southern Baptists who also are Christians, of course, are evangelizing in a time of social distancing. First and foremost, Dr. Wilson, Dr. Lance have already made mention of this, they’ve said that the gospel it never goes into quarantine and they are exactly right. The gospel never shelters in place. The gospel scatters, it never shelters. Though we as Christians may shelter in place, the gospel must scatter.
It is imperative for us to think back about in the book of Acts whenever in the great persecution, the church was given every reason not to share the gospel, even at the cost of their own lives, and yet the gospel continued to spread. So the gospel has a spreading nature, not a sheltering nature, and that’s one reason why I wanna encourage you, if you’ve not already been doing that, and encourage your people in your churches to do that because the gospel never shelters, it scatters.
The second reason why I think it’s very important for us to really take advantage of this time and you know as states are beginning to reopen and things of this nature, depending on what the timeline is for that and everything else, we really have an opportunity that we need to capitalize on now. What I mean by that is this. There are a lot of people… The second reason why we oughta evangelize through sheltering in place, is there are a lot of people who are right now a lot more open to hear the gospel right now than they ever have been before. I’ll just tell you an example.
I still loving door to door evangelism and while door to door evangelism is not the only way to do evangelism, it’s certainly not the only way not to do evangelism. A little over a year ago, last year, right before last Easter, I took some Southwestern Seminary students, just like we do every single week, and we went out and that particular day, the kind of evangelism we did was door to door evangelism. We knocked on the door of a man named David and David was, I would explain him as sort of a child of the 60s, as it were, very proud in his knowledge and intellect, and began to share the gospel.
I shared the gospel with him and then the other two students shared the gospel and then for good measure, I shared it one more time. We were there for about 45 minutes to an hour and he was very adversarial to the gospel, but he took my gospel tract and we left. I heard back from him the next day and he said, “You know I believe,” in an email he said, “I’m with you on about 80% of what you’ve written.” I thought, “That’s pretty good.” That surprised me. And I said, “So what’s the 20% that you’re not?” in an email. He emailed me back, he doesn’t have a phone, and he said, “Well, that part about Jesus havin’ to die “for my sins. “That’s the part I don’t…”
So for a year now, I have, through media-based evangelism, I have through email been sharin’ the gospel with this guy and cultivating a friendship that started, not as a friendship, but started as a gospel presentation. I’ve gone to visit him since then. Well, since that time he’s gotten cancer in his body, he’s only got a few months left, if not a few weeks left to live and all of the sudden, when all of this sheltering in place happened, all of the sudden something turned in him. He was very resistant to the gospel, but something has turned in him.
I’m hearing, I’m getting reports almost every day from people who are telling me that they’ve led somebody to Christ over social media or in one of their services or something like that. There are a lot more people that are willing to hear the gospel right now than there ever have been. In fact, if your church is doing any kind of service on Sunday morning, you’re seeing that. You’re seeing a lot more views than you usually have people show up on Sunday morning whenever we’re not sheltering in place. If people are more willing to hear the gospel, God’s people oughta be more willing to share the gospel. That’s the second reason.
The third reason that I wanna just talk about just real quick and then I wanna get into some practical ways to do this, is in this time of social distancing there have been a lot of reports that have come out that people are down, some of ’em are feelin’ some depression, some of ’em are not feeling a lot of joy these days. I remember when I was taught in seminary evangelism, I was always taught that the greatest cure to burn out in ministry or to depression or to being down is to go and share the gospel. Because when you go to share the gospel, you realize that you really don’t have a reason to be without joy because Jesus Christ has died on the cross for your sins. And when you remind others of that and tell others of that, you remind yourself of that and so it’s really good way to help you kind of hit the social distancing blues, as it is.
Those are three reasons why I think it’s imperative that Southern Baptists are doing evangelism during sheltering in place. But you may ask, “Okay, well I’m convinced. “How should I do it? “What are some ways? “I wanna get started doing this.” Well, first of all I wanna say one way to do this that’s pretty obvious, some people are already taking advantage of it, is through social media. Maybe you saw right before Easter there was a hashtag that was put out by some of our friends at the North American Mission Board, it was #MyStory, #MyStory. Now you can go on Twitter or Facebook and look at that and there are some other things that have associated with that hashtag as well, but in that hashtag, Southern Baptists utilized that and are still utilizing that to shoot at like a less than five minute, maybe a one minute or so, story about how they came to faith in Jesus Christ, a little testimony as it is.
Those things have been viewed time and time and time again so maybe you’ve not done something like that, maybe you’ve got a social media account, but have not been leveraging that for the gospel. Consider yourself, taking your phone and recording a short testimony and posting it on social media with #MyStory or whatever you wanna use for a hashtag, The Gospel is Never Quarantined, something like that, and put that on there.
Also, encourage your people to do that. These things are not really hard things. A lot of times people think evangelism’s hard, I’ve gotta have a degree in it or I’ve gotta have training for it. These are some things that are really low hanging fruit that are very easy, very accessible, very doable for your people. Evangelism is not near as hard as we all make it out to be and so if you’re able to communicate this idea, you’re always putting Instagram stories, Facebook stories, already recorded videos on your Facebook or on your Instagram or Twitter feed, whatever it might be, you just need to use that and transition that to use it for the gospel.
It will make it a little bit easier for your people to be encouraged to do that because you’re not havin’ to teach them anything. And they know their story, their story’s not somethin’ you can teach them anyway. Utilizing these Instagram stories, utilizing videos that are uploaded on Twitter, Facebook, other media platforms, that would be a really good way to utilize social media.
Another way that you can socialize media is is through what’s called Facebook Live. There’s been a lot of Christians I’ve seen, pastors, churches, that have utilized Facebook Live. One way you can do is for personally, I’ve seen some personal ones when you’re getting on and just kind of talking about what you’re doing. Make sure that, I mean it’s okay to talk about spiritual things and we ought to, we can hint around about the gospel and we ought to, but we ought to in every single one of those, if you’re already doing a Facebook Live regularly like a lot of Christians are doing, it is imperative to also give a full gospel presentation and share the gospel and tell them how they can talk to you later or talk to someone, later on, to get counseling for that because you never know who’s gonna watch that video.
I would just say utilize what you’re already doing and, again, we’re just fitting in the gospel and leveraging in the gospel to things that are already existing, that we’re already doing. I would just encourage you to either begin to utilize Facebook Live or if you’re using Facebook Live, don’t just use it to talk about spiritual things or even biblical things, do that, but make sure you’re talking about the gospel and giving an opportunity every single time that you’re on a Facebook Live. That would be another one. Then your just regular status updates. Talk to people about the hope that you have in quarantine, in sheltering in place, and put that and maybe put just a real short gospel presentation or maybe a link to a gospel presentation that someone can view online. These are some ways that you can utilize social media to evangelize while sheltering in place. Social media.
There’s a second way that I wanna talk to you about, it’s some ideas that you can take and utilize for yourself, but also utilize in your church and it’s social media and then there’s media-based evangelism, media-based evangelism. What do I mean by that? By media-based evangelism, that means using some medium of media in order to share the gospel. Now if you’re a pastor, I’m sure that not everyone on here is a pastor, but if you are a pastor or you’re on staff at a church, your church is already utilizing sermons, livestream, recorded content, premieres, things of this nature and so if you didn’t learn about it, you’ve got a really quick learning all of this subject. I just wanna encourage again that there are people that are watching. More people… You’re gonna be preaching to more people right now than maybe you’ll ever preach to before. You need to make sure that you share the gospel and I just wanna encourage you to share the gospel at the end of your messages. And not just share the gospel, some of you are already doing that and some of you are… I’m just saying you need to share the gospel.
But the fact of the matter is, a lot of people, when they hear the gospel, they don’t know what to do with the gospel. I wanna just also encourage you as you’re using media-based evangelism to not just share the gospel, but explain to someone right then and there how they can trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. There’s not an altar to come to, there’s not a counseling room to go to, there’s not a card to fill out, and so explain to them right then and there that if upon hearing the gospel, if they’re convicted by the Spirit, how they can repent, believe, and confess Jesus Christ as Lord right then. And do it every single time because you’re gonna have different people watching at different times when you’re producing these premieres and live streams and recorded content from your churches. So make sure that you’re utilizing that platform for the gospel.
And in addition to that, make sure that in addition to sharing the gospel, explaining to a lost person how they can receive the gospel, also provide for them an opportunity to speak to a real live person. Do you remember in Acts 2 whenever Peter preached the gospel and the people were cut to the heart? They were already convicted by the Spirit, but even being convicted by the Spirit, having heard the gospel explained, they still didn’t know what to do. You remember what they said to Peter in chapter two of Acts? They said, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said, “Repent and be baptized “for the forgiveness of your sins.” He explained to them what they needed to do. When the old Philippian jailer was there and he was gettin’ ready to kill himself and he said, “What must I do to be saved?” The evangelist was there, Paul and Silas were there, to explain, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ “and you will be saved.”
And so it’s incumbent upon us as pastors or ministry staff or churches to also provide some kind of counseling outlet for someone, not just to be explained what to do with the gospel, but for them to maybe get some questions answered, maybe if they do make that response, to know what the first, next steps are in discipleship and so it’s important to leave a phone number, an email address, and not just one that’s manned when the person maybe is watching the premiere, the live event, but also to have some kind of outlet for someone to be able to share the gospel with them, maybe at a time when they’re watching it that it’s not premiering.
I know at our church, what we do is we have a little thing down at the bottom, a phone number there on the screen, and at the end, we have all of our staff’s phone numbers and email addresses. You may or may not want to do that. But you do need to provide, just as a reminder, a way for someone to be able to talk to someone else. That’s important. Another great platform that I would really highly recommend and I have recommended, I know there’s a few people I’ve seen in the participant list today that are utilizing this resource.
Southwestern has used this resource for several years now. Southern Seminary has begun using it now that we’ve gone into shelter in place. New Orleans Seminary and Midwestern have been utilizing it. It’s Need Him Global, Need Him Global, needhim.org is the website. Need Him Global. And Need Him has done a lot of different kinds of services for evangelism with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. They’ve done that before, they’ve done some stuff with Campus Crusade. They’ve even helped, I believe, if I understand correctly with some of the North American Mission Board media-based evangelism things. They’re a great platform, they provide great training, they’ve got resources. And the neat thing is is that you or your people not only get the training at how to utilize the resource, but you can do one of two different things.
Number one, you can take your cell phone or your phone, if you’ve got a landline, and at any time, it’s on your… You don’t have to sign up for a time, you don’t have to have an appointment, whenever you find yourself when you need something to do, you’re able to sign in on your phone, and here’s the thing, you’re not having to call people to share the gospel, people are actually calling a number 1-800-NEEDHIM, it’s getting routed to you, they don’t get your phone number, and they’re asking you about the gospel. I mean this is low hanging fruit. This is people who are wanting to know the gospel, they just want someone to tell them the gospel. Remember, of course, in Romans it says, “How will they believe if they don’t hear?” This is something anybody who knows how to use a telephone can do this and actually people are calling you and asking you, “Would you please tell me how I can know Jesus Christ “as my Lord and Savior? “How can I have hope in the midst of a pandemic?” These people that are utilizing that.
You also have the opportunity, if you don’t wanna use your phone, you can also use your computer and you can go on and actually live chat with people. As you’re able to go to the live chat, you’re there in a chat room and someone will come in and they will begin to ask you questions. The neat thing about Need Him is they’ve already got resources that you can copy and paste if you are kind of a slow typer like I am sometimes, you can utilize that stuff and also help them. Our students, we’ve seen a number of people come to faith in Christ. In fact, we utilized this at the end of the semester and in my class, alone, we had 111 gospel opportunities, not just to try to share the gospel, but we actually shared the gospel, students at Southwestern, 111 times this semester and we saw 10 professions of faith through that venue. They’re being followed up with.
This is another way for you and your people to be able to share the gospel and here’s the good news, you don’t have to worry about rejection. I’m not saying that everybody you share the gospel with on here is gonna accept the gospel, but these are people who are coming to you wanting to know about the hope that lies within them, within you, excuse me, that can also lie within them. This is people comin’ to you, you can take out the fear of rejection because they actually have questions and if the Lord’s at work, they may even come to faith in Jesus Christ over a media-based platform. I would highly recommend to you the guys at Need Him, they’ve been real helpful to us in our seminary education in training God-called men and women in evangelism. That is a way to do another form of evangelism.
You’ve got social media, you’ve got media-based evangelism, and then the last thing I wanna talk about and then we’ll try to open it up for some Q&A is to go to what is called, some people call it relationship or friendship evangelism. If any of you know me, you know that I am one who has a philosophy just like Brother Daniel and many other that are even here on this call, who have a philosophy that I want to share as much of the gospel as soon as possible with as many as possible as clearly as possible. That’s what I try to do in evangelism. I do it in the course of relationship, when there’s two people together, you’re havin’ a conversation, there’s a relationship that’s established. But I’m usually not one that’s going to foster a relationship over a long time, never share the gospel and then weeks or months or years later then share the gospel. I’m gonna try to at least start off in a very winsome way, not stuffing it down their throat, but I like getting the gospel out pretty early on in the conversation.
Then, like with my friend David as I said, fostering that relationship, but always being able to say, “Let’s go back, where are you with the gospel, “that gospel we talked about when we first met?” And I think a lot of people sometimes feel afraid of that, sometimes they have an aversion to that kind of evangelism, that direct type of evangelism, and I’ve had people who have that kind of aversion always tell me, “I do friendship evangelism, I do relationship evangelism.” Well, praise God, I’m for that! But what happens is a lot of times, there’s a lot of relationship and there’s very little, if any, evangelism, and so really you’ve just done friendship or relationship.
What I wanna just encourage you to do is to utilize friendship or relationship evangelism which includes a relationship or friendship and also includes evangelism. Now here are a couple ways you can do that. What do I mean for that? Number one, there are people in your life, family members, friends, coworkers, that you have at one time or the other, you have already shared the gospel with that person. You’ve shared the gospel, and sometime ago, they rejected it. Maybe you’ve shared it with them a couple of times and they’ve told you, “Don’t talk to me about this anymore.” And so you find yourself in situations like that with people that are close to you that you’ve already shared the gospel with and they have rejected it or they have told you not to do it anymore. I think that with this pandemic, unlike we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes, this provides an opportunity and an outlet and a transition for you to actually be able to share the gospel with them again.
In fact, those that maybe before have rejected it because they thought death was something that was far away, maybe now they see that death is really closer than they thought it was. Or maybe those people that have rejected him said, “No, I don’t wanna hear about this anymore.” Just like my friend David, that there came a time in our conversations where he didn’t want us to talk about the gospel as much as what we were talking and he kind of solidified up. He never told me not to share the gospel, but was pretty adamant that he didn’t wanna talk anymore, but now he’s very open because of this COVID-19. Maybe your friend, family member, coworker, maybe they’ve had a change of heart too. You say, “Well how do I know?” Here’s the only way you know, you only know if you share the gospel.
We’ll never know how someone will respond to the gospel at any time, whether it’s the first, second, tenth, or hundredth time, until we share the gospel to see what the Holy Spirit is doing in his or her life. I encourage you to find someone that you shared the gospel with and then has rejected it in the past and go to them and share the gospel.
You say, “Well, how do I do that? “How do I bring it back up? “They’ve already rejected it before.” I think there’s a few things that you keep in mind. First of all, you’re not gonna approach them like a stranger, if you do direct evangelism. You’re not gonna approach them in such a way where you use your regular methods and strategies for sharin’ the gospel with someone you don’t know. This person knows you, they know your failures, they know your successes, they know the ins and the outs, they know your tactic, they know it all. You have to go into it in your mind knowing, number one, this person I can’t approach like maybe a direct evangelism encounter so it’s gonna be different. How’s it gonna be different?
First of all, I think you need to make yourself very vulnerable and very humble, very vulnerable, and very humble. Especially if someone that you love has said, “Don’t ever share the gospel with me again. “I don’t wanna hear it anymore,” and you’ve been afraid to share the gospel, but you sense the Lord is leading you to do that. I think you go to them with a sense of humility, you go to them with a sense of vulnerability, and you say, “Listen, brother, sister, mom, dad, “grandma, granddad, aunt, uncle, friend, coworker, whatever, “I know that you and I have talked a little bit “about my faith in the past and you didn’t want “to hear about it and what I’m asking you is, “I really feel a burden through this whole sheltering “in place, I really feel a burden, I feel led by God “and I feel like if I don’t do what I’m getting ready to do, “I’m gonna be disobeying God. “And I just wanna ask ya, can I, “in the midst of this sheltering in place, “can I share with you how I have hope in the midst “of sheltering in place, social distancing, “in the midst of a disease that has killed so many? “I just wanna share with you and maybe it’ll be “a little bit different for ya this time. “I wanna share with you how you can have hope “in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic.” Be very vulnerable. “Listen, I know in the past you’ve not done it, “you’ve not been willing to hear it, “but maybe God has been working in your heart “and I don’t know, the only way I know is to ask you. “Would you be willing for me just to share again, “not in a way that’s not winsome and not in a way “that’s not respectful, but just share with you “what I feel like God’s laid on my heart?”
Again, very humble, very vulnerable, and asking for that knowledge of where they may be in the midst of this social distancing. And then also be very serious with them. Say, “With all due respect, “who knows who’s gonna get it, when they get it, “and everything else, and this thing can sometimes “just sneak up on ya. “I don’t know if I’ll ever have another opportunity “to be able to tell you this and I’m just askin’ you, “would you please allow me this opportunity?” That’s another way to utilize the person that you’ve already shared the gospel with before, but has rejected it.
Now we get into a little bit more tricky thing and we’ll finish out with this and then we’ll take some questions. There are some of you that have friends, family members, coworkers, neighbors that you know very well, you’ve known ’em for several years now, and for whatever reason, maybe you’re afraid that it might affect the relationship or you’ve been afraid to, you’ve not known how to, you’ve not seen the opportunity for it, you through a period of many years have not shared the gospel and you know the Lord’s leading you to share the gospel with them, but you’re thinking, “What in the world am I going to do? “How am I gonna tell them that this “is the most important thing they need to know “and yet I’ve kept it quiet from them “for a period of years?” What are you gonna do? First of all, I would just say to you if you have that understanding, which I hope that you would, number one, just go to God about it and say, “God, I’m sorry, I should’ve shared the gospel “with my friend, coworker, family member a lot earlier “and I’ve just be afraid. “I’ve let,” whatever it is, you confess that to Him, you know what it is, “I’ve let that get in the way. “But God I’m asking for your Holy Spirit “to give me the boldness to not go another day “without sharing the gospel with that person.” You know what? You can say, “If it’s your will,” but I will tell you that is the Father’s will. You don’t even have to say, “If it’s your will,” that is God’s will. He wants to make His Spirit available to you to give you the boldness to share the gospel with someone who needs to hear it.
First of all, I think you need to deal with God and then second of all, go to that person and then again say, “Listen, John, Judy, “whatever their name is, there’s something that I have been “holding back from you the entire time “we’ve known one another. “And I’ve just been thinking along the lines “of this COVID-19 and all these things “and I’ve realized that I actually need to apologize “to you for somethin’.” Now by saying that, you’re gonna get their attention. And again, come to them in a very humble spirit about it and just say, “Listen, here’s the fact of the matter. “I have withheld from you the most important thing “that I could ever tell you about myself “and I’m gonna ask you, if you don’t mind, “I wanna ask you the opportunity today to be able “to share with you the most important thing “that is most dear and near to my heart “that I’ve been unwilling to be able to do; “and second of all I’m asking would you please forgive me “for not doing it?” Again you’re bringing in that humility, you’re bringing in that vulnerability, and who is not gonna say to someone who is being real honest with them, “Yes, I will forgive you. “Tell me what is it you have to tell me?” So you’re already creating within them this sense of anticipation of receiving something that is very important because the gospel is the most important.
Then just say to them, “Listen, you may know “that I go to church,” depending on how much they do or do not know about your spirituality, “but I need to tell you about my personal faith “in Jesus Christ.” And then share with them your story, share with them what you were told in order to believe, and then share with them what they need to hear in order to believe. These are some ways that you can utilize already existing relationships on the phone, on your FaceTime, on Zoom, whatever it might be, so you’re still social distancing, but calling or contacting friends, family members, coworkers that you’re already in relationship with, you may have or may have not shared the gospel with, and these are some ways to utilize relationship or friendship evangelism through a digital means or digital platform, social distancing, of course, to be able to share the gospel with them and hopefully see them come to faith in Jesus Christ.
These are just a few ways and a few reasons why I think it’s incumbent upon Southern Baptists, those in Alabama and those abroad that may be watching this live or watching this recorded. It is incumbent upon us to share the gospel because the gospel never shelters, it scatters. It’s incumbent upon us because there’s more people willing to hear the gospel than maybe there ever has been ever in our lifetimes. And last, it’s a way to get you from the devil getting your joy of not being able to be around people and just being by yourself and not being able to get out. Then, of course, there’s three ways that we can do it.
Number one, we can utilize social media, that’s something that’s low hanging fruit, something we’re already doing if you have a social media account. Just make sure you’re levering it for the gospel in some ways that I talked about. Media-based evangelism, some of the ways that you’re doing, maybe you’ve been sharin’ the gospel, maybe you’ve been doing’ a service, but you’ve not thought about actually explaining the gospel in detail. “Here’s what you do if you’re gonna repent. “Don’t just say the word ‘repent,’ “but here’s how you repent. “Here’s what it means to believe. “Here’s what it means to confess Jesus as Lord.” Or even providing some of those counseling outlets, a number, an email for someone to be able to contact them. And then lastly, leveraging current relationships that we have that are already deep-seated, you’re already there, and maybe the Holy Spirit’s already convicting you, telling you you need to reach out to them one more time because maybe they, like others, have never been more willing to hear the gospel than right now.
I wanna just real quick just say a prayer that the Lord would use what we just talked about to help you personally and hopefully for you to encourage the people in your church, other believers that you know, to utilize some of these ways because brothers and sisters, the thing that’s probably keeping us from having a Great Awakening. God’s Spirit’s already at work, people are getting saved, God’s will is that people get saved. There is pandemic unlike we’ve ever seen that are causing people to think about spiritual issues. The only thing that’s keeping this thing from breaking lose is God’s people sharing the gospel in all the ways that we can during this time in sheltering in place. I’m gonna pray and then after I pray, I’m gonna turn it over to Brother Matt and Brother Matt’s gonna facilitate some of our Q&A at this time. Let’s just pray real quick.
Heavenly Father, thank You so much for Jesus who you sent to die on the cross for our sins, be buried and raised. And thank you, Lord, that He sent us your Spirit that lives within us, that gives us the boldness to speak, that gives us the words to speak, and, Lord, that prompts us with the burden on our hearts to speak to the lost and dying world to see the world come to faith in Christ. Lord, there’s a lot of people that we know and there’s a lot of people that we don’t know that we have access now to that we’ve never had access to before, personally and as a church, and I pray, God, right now Your Holy Spirit and my brothers and sisters who are watching right now, that You would just raise up, Lord, an awareness for the need and raise up a boldness and a motivation in us unlike we’ve ever had before to not just talk about spiritual things, to not just talk about biblical things, those are important, but we would also include in those things the gospel of Jesus Christ and how people can receive it. And do all of that in the power of Your Holy Spirit. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, amen.
All right, thank you Dr. Queen. Very insightful. We have a question from Chad. He says, “How do you give an invitation for people “to respond at a drive-in service?”
Okay. Very good… Drive-in services, if some of you are watching and don’t understand what those are, a drive-in service is where church is coming and they are… People are coming and they’re in their cars and they’re not getting out of their cars, windows are up, and usually either hearing it through a speaker system, through FM radio they turn to a certain channel. That’s what we’re talking about here. I think this is gonna be a lot easier than maybe even talking into a camera like I’m doing right now because you’ve got people there you’re able to kind of see them right then.
I know one of my good friends, Matt Henslee, who is a pastor in New Mexico, he’s been doin’ this and he’s seen several people come to faith in Christ through these events. Basically, I think the same thing you do is you, first of all, preach the text, whatever the text is, and then, of course, find whatever is in that text, that spiritual need that that person has that’s lost, and capitalize on what you’ve been preaching on for however long it is and then share the gospel.
Of course when you’re sharin’ the gospel, what I do when I’ve done this, I’ve not done a drive-in service yet, but I have done it on the camera and recorded content and premiere videos, is basically I say something like this, “Thank you for watching today, “or thank you for coming today,” if you’re in the drive-in. “Today, you may be here and this may be your first time “to church or maybe your first time in a long time, “and you’ve come today because of this situation, “this pandemic and it’s caused you to begin to think “are you right with God, are you gonna be right “if you get this thing? “Right now I want you to know that God has provided “for you a way to have confidence that you can be made right “with Him and that is through Jesus Christ.”
Then explain to them repentance is a changing of the mind, they need to change their mind, they’re not gonna be right with God just because of their good works. If that was good enough, Jesus would not have had to die. Talk to them about changing their mind, that they have an honest need for Jesus Christ, that their sin offends God, even the good things they do offend God because God is not pleased with good or bad, He’s only impressed and He’s only open to righteousness and that’s the righteousness of the Son, Jesus Christ.
Then tell them to believe that Jesus died, was buried, and raised again, and then call them to a response. Call them and just lead them through, either lead them through a prayer telling them not to repeat the words for the sake of magic or anything, but repeat words that are helpful to communicate what’s in their heart. Lead them through a way to confess Jesus as Lord, however that is for you, okay?
Then what I would do is I would just say, “If you made this decision, you’re here at the drive-in, “I’m gonna ask you to text message me at,” and then just give ’em your number if you feel comfortable with that. Usually a minister’s gonna feel comfortable to do that. If you don’t feel comfortable to do that, tell them to send you an email to the church, to your church email address, something like that. Have them maybe flash their lights if you wanna do that. Something like that, that way you’re able to know what’s going on and then you’re able to follow up with them in a way that is responsible social distancing, you call them on the phone and kind of talk them through their next decision. I think that’s one way that you can do that during a drive-in service.
All right, we have a question from Michael. He says, “How can we get the word out “to brand new residents in our community “that our church has available media resources, “especially if they don’t know anyone at the church yet?”
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. Thank you for that question, Brother Mills. In the past, we would throw up a sign out in front of the church, wouldn’t we? And hopefully advertise that way. I think some of the ways that you’re able to do that is there are some services that you can actually purchase through Outreach Magazine, I think. They’ve got a service where you can actually purchase the addresses of people in your area within a certain mile radius, and if your church has the finances to do it, you can, of course, do kind of a leaflet and they’ll send it out, mail it out for you. That’s a way to communicate it that’s going to their mailbox.
Another way to do this is if you’re able to do a boosting on Facebook. If your church has a Facebook paste, excuse me, a Facebook account, there are ways that you can, for very cost effective ways, be able to boost for people in your area who are looking for churches. You’ve probably already seen them, they’ll say promoted there as you’re kind of scrollin’ through your feed. And so you’re able to kind of boost things for people that are already looking on social media for different things and people in your area, when you push that out, it’ll actually push it out to people in that area. That’s another way that you can also let people know.
All right, this one’s from Bill. He said, “This has been good information and encouraging. “On Facebook, there’s an option to snooze someone “for 30 days or to unfollow someone entirely. “I have noticed that if my Facebook page “becomes just a bulletin board of shared announcements “or primarily about religious subjects, “my audience becomes smaller and primarily “engages Christians. “What are some ways to use posts to Facebook or other means “to effectively engage more non-Christian people “on Facebook?”
Yeah, so I think that’s a good way. I didn’t mention the status updates ’cause it is good to do that. I don’t think that needs to be the only thing you’re posting on there, but it would be good to have one of those. But if they do see constant posts that are only about that, you will get the snooze, you will get unfollowed, you will get unfriended sometimes. I think one of the ways to do that, I think a lot of people, at least me and maybe this is just me, but when I see somebody doin’ a video and they’re talking about something, I’ll pop in to see what they’re talking about. Maybe one way that you can do this is to say, “Look, I would like to have a time to pray “about the situations that are going on in your life.” So people are coming in, maybe sharing a request or something, you’re praying, and then maybe at the end of that, you’re sharing the gospel. Maybe it’s not the whole time you’re sharing the gospel, but something at the end you’re able to do that.
What you need to do is to think through what are some ways that you can maybe do a live event or something like that that will affect people that are going on. Maybe it’s not even something spiritual like praying for somebody, maybe you’ve got down a system, maybe… Our family, we’ve not been goin’ to the grocery store, we’ve been getting Walmart to send stuff delivered to our home and Amazon Fresh has been sending things to our house and so we’ve had that. My wife and I have kind of come up with a way to clean things off just to make sure that everything we’re bringing in our homes is not harming us or our girls. Maybe you’ve got a way that you can kind of put on there some kind of tip on how to do something during the sheltering in place. Maybe it’s just a life skill, and then, of course, as you’re doin’ the life skill, you’re able to share the gospel. I think that’s a way to think through what are some things that you’ve learned in this, right now, that people can see.
For example, we watched some of these kinds of videos whenever this thing first started. Think through what are some things that people, some life skills that people are needing in the midst of this COVID crisis. Maybe you’re one that knows how to do these face masks and maybe you can teach people how they can sew their own face masks. Again, people are gonna come in, like myself, that don’t know how to do that and then you’re able to weave the gospel in there. I think that’s one of the ways to be able to do it so that it’s not so in your face so that people are not going to unfriend you or unfollow you or snooze you. Think of these life skills that you can do, these services you can provide through some kind of Facebook Live encounter to share the gospel.
Great. Chris asks, “In the past, the church would have “evangelistic outreach events, block parties, “movie nights, et cetera. “What kind of events can we do now in the era “of social distancing?”
Yeah, so I think those things… One of the difficult things, and this goes back to the first question asked, is generally when you had a block party, you had a VBS, you had something like that, you’re having people who were being invited because people were not social distancing, they were inviting people to come. If your church has not got a good list of prospects and maybe one of the things God’ll do in this thing is to call our churches to start looking for prospects again, but if your church doesn’t have a good prospect list by which you can go ahead and send things out, and maybe do something online, maybe a craft time. I’ve seen some churches in some places that are substituting some of their things for craft times, helping a kid know how to make a craft or paint a picture or something like that, and then sharin’ the gospel in that. The problem that’s gonna be with that is if you don’t have prospects that you can kind of invite in some way, it’s gonna be real difficult for you to have anybody more than just the people in your church.
Now, it’s important, because especially with children, not all the children in your church maybe have accepted Christ so I think that’s one way to do that, you, your student minister, your children’s minister have some kind of events where you’re bringing children on and they’re learning, they’re doing a craft together, they’re all together, learning maybe Bible story time or something like that, and then share the gospel with the children and the parents on as well. That’s gonna be a way. But I think the real big way… The real big obstacle with doin’ some kind of event, which the event is gonna have to be more instructional in nature, I think, is tryin’ to find those prospects and you’re either gonna have to go and send out some kind of flyer or you’re gonna have to also try to look in the prospect list that you already have maybe from Sunday School, maybe from past people that have visited. I think that’s gonna be the big thing that you’re gonna have to look at.
All right, from John, “From your point of view, “evangelism on Facebook Live, is it better utilized “on personal pages or church pages?”
Yeah. I’m really not sure about that so I’m makin’ an educated guess on this. I think probably, it all depends. It all depends on your friend lists. If on your personal page, if you look at your friends and all of them are Christians or the vast majority of them are Christians, then you need to look at your church page and say, “Okay, how many non-Christians “or people that I don’t know if they’re a Christian or not “are showin’ on the page?” I think whichever one is gonna give you greater access to lost people, and again, that’s gonna have to be determined and, of course, we don’t know the spiritual status of everybody that’s following us or friends with us, but looking at those two lists and seein’, “Okay, which of these do I know more “do have a relationship than those that don’t?” And I think that’d be a good way to make that decision.
All right and last, “What are the disadvantages “of online communication for community engagement?”
Yeah, so some of the problems is the incarnational aspect of it. Sometimes people may be willing to connect in this way, but whenever we’re over all of this, maybe you’re going to try to reach out to them and then they’re busy ’cause now they’re back to their old life. So one of the problems with that is you’ve got their attention now, but after we start to reopen, you’re maybe not gonna have their attention as much. I think that’s one of the problems that we have with doin’ evangelism in this way. Another problem that we may have in doin’ evangelism this way, I think, is in relationship to finding people. If you’re more like me and you’re more of a direct evangelism person, when we’re not social distancing, the sky’s the limit, people are all around. Well, in this kind of format, you’re really having to put yourself out there and try to attract people to come on. I think those are two things that we have to overlook, or not overlook, but overcome in our practice of evangelizing with social distancing. It’s possible, it’s just some issues that we have to make sure we overcome.
Great. Well, thank you so much Dr. Queen. This was so helpful. For those of you that are still on, this will be posted on both the ALSBOM page, which is alsbom.org, and of course we have a new page at the evangelism office, it’s EvangelizeAL, so EvangelizeAlabama.org. We wanna thank Doug for putting this on for us in the background. We wanna thank Dr. Lance and his leadership and also Daniel in his new position at the Office of Evangelism. Again, Dr. Queen, thank you so much for goin’ on. Isn’t it awesome that we can showcase to ya’ll that God puts people like Dr. Queen in places of influence and significance? So we’re prayin’ for you, we’re prayin’ for your family, and for your institution at Southwestern Theological Seminary and its leadership. It’s great to be Baptist, it’s great to be Christian. I am going to pray and then we’ll call this a day. Thank you again Dr. Queen.
Thank you so much, Brother Matt, and thank you everyone who joined us today.
All right, let’s pray. Father, thank You for our day. We rejoice, Father, I know it seems difficult at some points in time, but we rejoice because we acknowledge that even in our sufferings, as slight as they are now and as difficult as they might be in the future, our sufferings bring us closer to You and what You did for us on the cross. Thank You for Your, just Your diligence and Your character and moving towards the cross for us and showcasing the Father’s love to us. We also hope for the day that we get to be with You and we get to rejoice with our brothers and sisters where there’ll be no more social distancing, there will be no more death, Father, there will only be community under You as our Lord. We praise You, we thank You. In Christ’s name I pray, amen. Thank you all.