Pandemic Evangelism: Spreading the Gospel, not the Virus (Step One)
Our pastor quipped on Sunday (3/22) that, during the present crisis, we should spread the gospel, not the virus. This is a really strange time for ministry generally and evangelism specifically. Over the next week or so (while we’re all staying put in our homes!), I want to develop a few ways that we can follow this directive during this unprecedented time. Follow along below to see this series develop.
Step 1: Fervently Pray for the Lost
Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit. The first and obvious way that you can advance the gospel during the pandemic is prayer. Here’s pandemic evangelism step 1: fervently pray for the lost! Generally speaking, we underestimate the power of prayer in all areas of life including evangelism. When we pray, we don’t feel like we’re doing anything, but really we’re doing the most effective thing. Prayer directly impacts reality. God uses prayer to accomplish his purposes in time and space. Moses held his arms up in intercessory prayer as Israel defeated the Amalekites (Ex 17:8–13); God withheld rain from the land of Israel for 3 ½ years per Elijah’s request (Js 5:16–18); Paul admonished the Corinthians to help him through persecution by means of prayer (2 Cor 1:11), and the list could go on. Simply stated, prayer works.
Here are some requests that you could pray for.
- Pray for opportunities to tell the lost about Christ. (Col 4:3) [more on pandemic-appropriate opportunities later]
- Pray for clear communication. (Col 4:4)
- Pray for the seed of the gospel to find good soil in people’s hearts. (Mark 4:14–20)
- Pray for the lost to be saved! (Rom 10:1)
During threatening times, it’s easy to fixate on our own needs and concerns; however, we must also remember the eternal need of the lost. Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt 10:28) There is something far worse than physical death, the coronavirus, or any temporal circumstance. The lost are in danger of a Christless eternity. We need to put the pandemic into perspective. No matter what we suffer in this life, we have Christ. The lost are separated from Christ. Let’s plead for their salvation.
Perhaps these cues will help you pray for the lost.
- Incorporate prayer for the advance of the gospel into your regular prayer times (meals, devotions, etc.)
- Keep a list of lost people that you’re praying for as a family, and pray for them when you do family devotions.
- As you walk or drive through your neighborhood, pray through the names of your neighbors who need Christ.
- When you feel fear and anxiety concerning the coronavirus, pray for someone who is lost.
I think there are a few reasons why we fail to pray for the lost as we should. Reason number one is because we’ve forgotten the power of prayer. Salvation requests are often long-term requests. You’ve probably prayed for the same, lost loved-ones for years, even decades. As time passes, we lose sight of the power of prayer. But Jesus taught us to pray persistently (Luke 18:1–8). Reason number two scares me. Perhaps we don’t fervently pray for the lost because we simply don’t care for the lost. We don’t love them enough to diligently seek God, take hold of Him in prayer (Is 64:7), and urgently plead for their souls. At times, we care more for our personal comfort and well-being than the eternal salvation of sinners. This is the ultimate failure to love one’s neighbor as oneself.
As this crisis erodes the confidence and self-reliance of the world, let’s fervently pray for people to turn to Christ! People are vulnerable right now. God can use this time to awaken the lost to their desperate need for him. Let’s pray to that end.