Eleven O’clock AM on March 22, 2020 may go down in history as one of the greatest hours of the 21st Century Church! Many pastors like myself were most likely taken by surprise by the sudden shift in ministry from a traditional setting to a Livestream, Facebook, and/or Instagram setting. The ability to reach far beyond a Sunday morning worship attendance was evident as the views on our church’s Facebook Live broadcast. It was amazing to see that our little online Facebook Live broadcast reached over 800 people! Our online giving has increased and people are sharing post from various other churches and ministries. The bottom line is the Gospel is being proclaimed!
Time will tell regarding the fruitfulness of this new method of ministry. Which really is not new at all! The difference between this Sunday and previous ones is this Sunday the world was held captive for the most part by the Coronavirus (Covid 19). Gatherings have been limited to 10 or less.
Earlier in the week I noticed a post that someone had placed on their Facebook feed. It was a picture of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. The caption was so eyeopening! “And just like that every pastor became a televangelist!” Certainly, that is not my desire. My goal is to serve the Lord Jesus faithfully as a pastor-teacher. The thought of preaching before a camera has no appeal for me. I have been in pastoral ministry over 20 years and for 5 to 6 years I have ministered in worship services that have been Livestreamed. This day was different as the focus and expectation of most church members was that every local church would either Livestream or hold parking lot church services.
I was so blessed to have two members of our pastoral staff ministering with me. Pastor Tyler Osborne and Pastor Kayla Osborne serve as our worship leaders and youth pastors. Just before going live on Facebook we prayed together and I sensed the Lord manifesting in our vacant Freedom Worship Center. The Holy Spirit was present just as if the building was filled to seating capacity. One of my former mentors who has now passed heavenward would often say that the anointing makes all the difference. Whether the service be in a building or only Live Stream my prayer is that we continue ministering with the anointing.
It was very edifying to see just how many of my pastor friends took to Facebook live this day! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this day of ministry sparked a global revival and evangelistic thrust with many accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? My wife, Teresa had much to say to me about this and sparked my mind to pondering just how much this could be a game changer for the church! Her excitement is so encouraging and this is the mentality that we should exhibit. Let’s not be down but let’s rise up for the challenge!
Two cautionary statements I would like to offer in closing my remarks. First, let’s not forget that many have not made the leap to the internet and do not know about Livestream, Facebook, or Instagram. Some state that Facebook is of the devil and that there is no good that can come from it. We must love all people and respect their beliefs. We should accept that this new method is not for everyone and seek ways to continue ministering to everyone we can. Second, many of our local churches rely upon tithes and offerings. Whereas the numbers on our Facebook post may be impressive they do not pay the bills. We must provide ways for people to worship the Lord in their giving. Our church has online giving available that is safe and secure. Again, not everyone will use this means of giving as it is dependent upon internet use. Delivering CDs of the worship service with tithing envelopes is one of the ways we are trying to assist our shut-in members during this time. We are also sharing our postal mail address with our members so they can mail in their gifts. Furthermore, we are utilizing email, postal mail, and our “One Call” phone tree to communicate to our members.
Please remember that our methods may change but our message remains the same. Jesus Christ died for sinners and all who call upon the Lord shall be saved! Let’s continue spreading the Good News! Reach out to a shut-in today and let them know that they are loved and appreciated! Let’s “BE” the church!