Pandemic Power Evangelism
In this article, Clay Harrington (Healing, College, & Evangelism Pastor at The Vineyard Church in Urbana, IL) reflects on other moments in history when the Church experienced disruption and chaos, and the result was something the world did not expect! In this season of global pandemic, we are invited into a unique opportunity to see lives transformed.
Healing, College, & Evangelism Pastor, The Vineyard Church (Urbana, IL)
Let’s be honest. Church as we know it looks a lot different than it did BC… before COVID!
This interruption, replete with chaos of all shapes and sizes, forces Church leaders everywhere to re-evaluate what matters most now. Our in-person gatherings, the way we Church online, community outreach initiatives, even the way we pastor our people, all look wholly different.
While uncertainties seem to be the new normal this pandemic season, efforts to reach lost, hurting, and searching neighbors unfortunately runs the risk of being one of the last things we think about. And if you have school-age kids, you’re probably thinking something like: “I’m just trying to make it through remote learning – who has time to prioritize evangelism, let alone power evangelism?” As a dad of two sets of school-age twins, I feel you!
But what if I were to tell you that this pandemic brings more opportunities to evangelize than we realize? What if we, sons and daughters, are invited into a pandemic power evangelism (PPE) necessary to save those who are lost in a confused, hurting and cold world?
It seems that God specializes in radical Church growth in the unlikeliest of circumstances with willing sons and daughters. And we see this very upside-down Kingdom principle clearly illustrated in Acts 8.
In Acts, Luke records how the early Church went through a similar season of cray cray as they endured severe persecution. If you recall, prior to their interruption, the Jerusalem Church thrived, community was next-level, and power evangelism exploded as the Lord added people to the Church day after day!
Then in Acts 8:1, we read how the early Church went through a severe persecution, one that forced them to scatter. It was no longer safe to meet in large gatherings for fear of being arrested – or worse – losing one’s life, all for the sake of reppin’ the name.
Despite this severe persecution, power evangelism was alive and well. In fact, we read that the Church added even more to their numbers in the midst of the confusion and chaos.
So how in the world did the early Church add more to their numbers? I mean, living in the 2020 pandemic that’s scattered and disrupted most of the Church to date, it seems more like the opposite is true! Sustaining is difficult enough, so how are we supposed to add more?!
Well, Acts 8:4 explains how the early Church didn’t just survive but thrived in the deadly interruption: “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went” (NIV, emphasis added).
Rather than be distracted with temptations to complain about their circumstances, resist what’s uncomfortable, or even hold off shining their light until the large gathering reunion in the building… the Church in Acts simply preached the word wherever they went!
And as a result of this “proclamation and demonstration wherever we go” lifestyle, we read accounts of Churches being planted in the unlikeliest of places, like Samaria, Judea, Ethiopia, and in other far reaches of the known world.
When I read how the Church experienced radical growth amid massive regional interruption, it gives me hope! It gives me hope to know that (in many ways) the global Church is indeed scattered, thus poised to experience the largest Church growth in history.
It gives me hope to know that we can leverage this pandemic interruption by simply showing and telling the Gospel wherever we go!
During this extraordinary time, I’ve noticed people more open to the Gospel and prayer than ever! People in the community, on the job, on Zoom, the curbside pick-up workers, and even those providing tele-services have been open to hearing and experiencing the Good News.
I remember calling my internet provider in early August as I was receiving billing notifications for services I previously discontinued. A nice lady (we’ll refer to as Kate) took care of all my concerns and questions. We were about to disconnect when I felt a last-minute prompting by Holy Spirit to ask about Kate’s back pain.
So, I leaned in and just went for it (what do I have to lose, right?!), asking, “Before we hang up, do you by chance have pain in the right side of your lower back? I know it’s a super random question!”
She replied that she had pain on both sides of her back and asked how I knew!
I explained that I felt God told me that she had back pain and that He wanted to heal her right now.
After expressing shock and gratitude, she allowed me to pray over the phone. During our prayer, she reported feeling not only the pain leaving her back, but she also felt a “…marvelous presence in her office, and all around her body…”
As we continued praying, Kate announced that her back pain was completely gone!
After giving praises to God, I explained to Kate that Jesus was pursuing her and that her healed back was a sign that he wanted to start a new relationship with her. So, I asked if she would like to receive Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior. To which she replied, “I would!”
The next thing you know, we’re praying a prayer of salvation together, and I got to witness a Mediacom billing agent open her heart to the King over the phone! Yeah, Jesus!
In this pandemic season, I’m discovering a grace to see more healing and salvations over the phone, Zoom, messenger, at the local grocery store, gas station… wherever the Holy Spirit and I go!
I know this type of “show and tell the Gospel wherever you go” lifestyle may not be the typical way we do evangelism (you know the kind where we give a call at the end of our weekend service, count hands, and record numbers of those who took the leap of faith) and will require us to step outside our comfort zones.
But I believe there’s a grace for a pandemic power evangelism that all sons and daughters are invited into.
About Clay Harrington
At an early age, Clay was taught timeless truths about God by his mother. But during his teenage years, he began to rebel and turned away from God to live a life of sin.
It wasn’t until the age of 30 that he would turn from a sinful lifestyle to a life sold-out for Christ. Since his born-again experience, Clay has experienced a number of radical encounters with the Father and made it his life’s mission to help the Church realize they are dead to sin and how to live alive to God. Today, Clay is committed to proclaiming freedom to captives, healing the sick, equipping the saints to live naturally supernaturally, and inspiring the church to live radically for Jesus.
Clay is married to his wife, Regina, and blessed with two sets of boy/girl twins. Clay and his family reside in Illinois, where he works as the Healing, College, and Evangelism Pastor for the Vineyard Church located in Urbana, IL.
You can follow Clay on Facebook, Instagram @ClayofGod77.