By Matt Queen
Perhaps during the COVID-19 pandemic you’ve heard someone declare, “You can’t quarantine the gospel!”
“But how,” you ask, “can I share the gospel when my local, state, and federal authorities have ordered my family and me to stay at home and practice social distancing?”
Although this might be the first time in our lifetimes we’ve been ordered to stay in our homes, it certainly isn’t the first time that Christ-followers have sought to share the gospel while locked down in their houses because of disease or even locked up in prisons due to persecution.
As you question whether you can share the gospel while you’re sheltering-in-place, don’t forget the Apostle Paul evangelized while he was “shackled-in-place” (Acts 28:16-31).
The Romans permitted him to live under house arrest while he awaited his appeal to Caesar.
Instead of using his supervised custody as an excuse not to evangelize, Paul capitalized on the opportunities his being “shackled-in-place” provided him to evangelize his visiting guests, as well as his personal Roman guard.
In fact, for two years he preached the gospel and taught about Jesus to everyone who came to visit him in his quarters.
Although we likely won’t be entertaining strangers and visitors in our homes during these days the way Paul did during his imprisonment, we should remind ourselves and be encouraged that we possess technological tools today that weren’t available to Paul in his day.
These everyday devices and gadgets we own provide us an open door to share the gospel today, as well as create for our churches an effective launching pad to increase our evangelistic efforts whenever things return to normal.
Why you should share the gospel during this pandemic
Several factors should compel Christians to share the gospel during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the nature of the gospel is such that it doesn’t shelter—it scatters!
Read the book of Acts. Survey the history of the church. Believers, by the power of the Holy Spirit, have faced every kind of obstacle, and their determination to evangelize despite them has resulted in greater gospel expansion.
Also, believers have probably never had a greater platform both to display and to give a reason for their hope in the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ than at this propitious moment in time.
Why? Because unbelievers have probably never been more willing both to listen and to consider the gospel of our Lord Jesus in their lifetimes than during this health crisis.
The spread of COVID-19 has convinced the world to consider the imminence of death and the purpose of their lives. The gospel provides the only satisfying answer to these contemplations concerning the body and the soul.
How you can share the gospel during this pandemic
Believers have numerous opportunities and venues to evangelize while sheltering-at-home.
One of these venues includes Christians utilizing media-based evangelism platforms and/or leveraging their social media account(s) for the sake of the gospel.
Media-based evangelism organizations like NeedHim Global allow Christ-followers to share the gospel over the phone or through chat rooms with unbelievers who call or visit looking for spiritual hope in their physical despair.
Using video apps like Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, and TikTok videos also provides opportunities to share the gospel.
For instance, you can record your testimony of salvation with an explanation of how viewers can receive Jesus Christ through repentance, belief, and a verbal confession of Christ’s Lordship.
You can also live-stream content on Facebook that interests would-be viewers and share the gospel with them at an opportune time during the show.
Popular and interesting livestreams include life-hack tutorials that help viewers cope and adapt to life during the pandemic.
Some of these tutorials include how to make homemade masks, how to search and locate hard-to-get retail items, or recommendations on how to educate your children successfully at home.
If you and/or your spouse can play an instrument and sing well, hosting a livestream concert or sing-a-long have recently also interested and garnered viewers.
How churches can share the gospel after this pandemic
Churches’ creative responses to the limitations caused by social distancing, as well as unbelievers’ search for spiritual answers, serve as some positive side effects of the recent pandemic.
As cities and states begin to relax their coronavirus restrictions, churches shouldn’t go back to business as usual when it comes to the gospel and evangelism.
Instead, they should review and assess the lessons they’ve learned and the successes they’ve had in terms of spreading the gospel to bolster their efforts going forward.
For example, churches that use evangelistic invitations in their worship services might exercise their newfound ingenuity to provide additional options for people to respond, such as allowing respondents to text-message their spiritual decision to request for a follow-up visit.
Additionally, some churches that have provided online worship service videos to their congregants have experienced significant viewership eclipsing the number of people who attended on-campus worship services before the pandemic.
Congregations should explore purchasing equipment and software that’ll produce high-quality streaming or recording of their future, on-campus worship services, and ensure that every published video includes a gospel presentation and invitation, along with a way for respondents to contact the church for follow-up and counsel.
Finally, self-quarantining isolation has created a longing for community and personal interaction with others. Churches provide the most nurturing and healthy form of community for those seeking one.
Because the gospel serves as the door for anyone to enter the family of faith, churches must intentionally practice evangelism inside and outside their buildings.
Believers will also find that people will be more willing to have conversations as they return to public life. What better conversation can they initiate than one that includes the good news of Jesus Christ?
Matt Queen (@DrMattQueen) serves as Associate Dean, Associate Professor, and L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism (“The Chair of Fire”) in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is married to Hope and has two daughters, Madison and Matia. He and his family are members of Lane Prairie Baptist Church, Joshua, Texas.