Fishing during Social Distancing: Invitations and Evangelizing during COVID-19
How do we share Jesus when we can’t get within six feet of someone? There are a few different ways you can encourage your congregation to share personally as well as ways to lead an invitation when you return to church.
Encourage Your Congregation to Evangelize!
Here are some ideas you can use to teach your congregations to evangelize wherever they are – despite social distancing. Another good resource is No Sweat Evangelism.
- Pray specifically for God to use you to share with lost people. Can’t get away from the importance of this practice in our lives. We will not talk to people about God, if we won’t talk to God about people.
- Extend invitations to friends to join you for online church services. Encourage them to listen and then follow up with a text or email.
- Serve others. Be the hands and feet of Jesus in your neighborhood. Make yourself available to run errands or grab meals for those around you. This will inevitably build a bridge for conversation to take place about Jesus.
- Write out your testimony and send it via email to as many people as possible. Don’t create a book and email it. Instead, keep it short and to the point. Describe your life before you met Jesus, how you met Him, and the difference He has made in your life after trusting Him as Savior. End the email with a simple question: Could you share your story with me?
- Give out Bibles to those in your neighborhood. Include a list of verses and page numbers that lead them through the plan of salvation. Follow up later with a phone call, text or email simply asking what they learned while reading.
- Video your testimony and put on your Facebook or Instagram. Or better, direct message people your video testimony. Be sure to ask others to share their story with you.
- Schedule a neighborhood ZOOM check in. Ask how everyone is doing and what needs they may have or know about in the neighborhood. This would be a perfect time to insert a phrase like this, “During difficulties like this, I like to pray, what do you do?” Follow up with people one on one after the meeting for gospel conversations to occur.
Remember the important thing is to encourage people to see their sin against God, understand that Jesus paid for their sin and was resurrected, and they can be forgiven through faith in Him.
Of course, the next step is to encourage them to come to a worship gathering when and if possible. This is where they can get connected as well as experience an invitation.
Have an Invitation Strategy in Place!
After we’ve been sheltering in place, how do we extend an invitation when returning to church? This is a question on the heart of many getting prepared for returning to corporate worship. There may be a season when the ‘come forward’ invitation must be set aside, and we employ a new strategy. Even though shelter in place may be removed, social distancing will continue to be a reality for a while. Here are a few suggestions to consider.
After Sheltering in Place: Begin with prayer.
Invite a group within your church to begin praying now for souls. Encourage them to pray specifically for God to speak the gospel to those who are present. Ask them to invite the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation in the lives of people present. Ask God to give them courage to respond to the gospel.
Be willing to use technology.
One easy way is to display a number someone can text. You will need to make this number visible for more than just the ‘invitation time’. You will also need to be extremely clear about when to text the number. The great thing about the texting option is that you have access for follow up directly to the person.
An example, “If you gave your heart to Jesus this morning, please text “Follow” to 777888. I want to encourage you to text that number so that I can share with you the three steps you need to take as a new believer. I know you will want to take the next steps in following Jesus. So text “follow” to 777888.” The three steps would be baptism, church membership, and small groups.
Provide a decision card at every seat.
Encourage those who make decisions for Christ during the invitation to fill out the card and take it to a specific place you designate. You may want to tell them by filling out the card and checking “Follow,” you will give them the next three steps they need to take in following Jesus.
Provide a place for those who made decisions to go.
This would need to be a larger room that could accommodate social distancing such as a gymnasium or fellowship hall. I would encourage choosing a place close to the worship center. This could be a place where they fill out a decision cards and get insight into their ‘next steps’.
These are a few simple tasks that any church can follow. The key here is to make sure you are faithfully inviting individuals to put their trust in Jesus. Don’t let this virus hinder you from declaring the gospel and unashamedly inviting individuals to respond. May God give a harvest of souls as we continue to fulfill the Great Commission.
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