“ preach the good news to all creation.”
When the announcement came from the Texas governor’s office that an executive order had been put into place stating that we must avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people, I believe many of our pastors began thinking about what were they going to do with their Sunday morning services. In a sense, they were being asked to do something they had never done before: figure out how they were going to minister to their church family without that family meeting together, not only on Sunday but also during the week. This limitation of meeting size was for originally 15 days (2 Sundays) but will more than likely be extended this week. What a challenge! Even in the FRBA office, Laurie Beth and I have had to make adjustments including cancelling meetings and events that had been planned long ago.
Our church leaders took up the challenge. With much prayer and many discussions with church leaders, our pastors and staff members began preparing for something different. Some looked into “live-streaming” their Sunday service. Others planned to tape their sermons to be broadcasted on YouTube. Some recorded their service and then sent audio or DVD copies to their church members. I noticed that “social media” was the primary method being used by our churches to share God’s message to their church members who would remain at home (as recommended by the authorities). And God would use their efforts to
“…preach the good news to all creation.”
As I came to my office at the beginning of the week after the first Sunday of “change”, I decided to call each of our churches to see how they were doing. I spoke mostly with pastors, but was able to talk with some ministry assistants and a few staff members as well. There were a few churches where I left a message, but have not received a response. At the end of the week I had made over 50 phone calls. And what a blessing those phone calls were.
I have to confess I don’t know all the meanings of some of the words associated with “social media”…like “hits’, “responses”, “views” and “likes”, to name some. But as I made these calls, I asked the pastors and most of the staff members I spoke with how their Sunday service had gone. I jotted down notes, and these are some of the comments I received from them:
Many churches reported “hits” they got from posting their services on Facebook.
FBC Big Wells had over 400
FBC Christine had over 215
Tilden Baptist Church had about 469 hits
Iglesia Bautista Ebenezer (Poteet) had about 370
FBC Devine had over 800
FBC Jourdanton had over 300
FBC Lytle had about 200
IB Nueva Vida (Pearsall) had over 138 hits
Crosspoint Fellowship (Pleasanton) had over 300
FBC Pearsall posted a SS class with over 200 hits
There is no telling the number of hits that could be reported from all our churches put together!
Some churches reported the number of those who “viewed” their service online.
FBC LaCoste had about 78 who watched the service live (Bro Cliff said that was more than he has on any given Sunday)
FBC Charlotte counted about 70 viewers
FBC Cotulla had over 100
Tilden Baptist Church reported about 70 who watched their “live stream” service.
Somerset Baptist Church reported more than 217 viewing their service.
How far away were these church services on line being received?
Cowboy Fellowship has been able to broadcast their services live on Facebook, YouTube and on a local radio station. They reported viewers from as far away as India and undoubtedly from other countries as well.
FBC Cotulla reported responses from Peru, Mexico and Spain
Viewers from all over the USA were noted from Georgia, Tennessee, Minnesota and undoubtedly from other states too.
The message of the Gospel was indeed being shared to many more people than we may really know about. And all of these reports were just from the first week after the government announcement, even when our churches had very little time to prepare!
The following week of March 29th pretty much the same method the churches used previously would have to be used again, with even more people being reached with the Gospel. Some churches that weren’t able to get up and running the first week, were broadcasting their services through some format or another by the second week. Those that weren’t able to do so, were invited to participate with some that were. Some have Sunday school and Bible studies online using Zoom, or other methods.
FBC Carrizo Springs hosted a drive-thru prayer meeting, and even a drive-in revival! Our churches are using prayer and their God-given creativity and talents to not only survive this challenge, but thrive in the midst of it.
For many pastors this has been frustrating indeed, but I am encouraged by how our pastors are responding and how the Word of God is reaching many more people than we could have imagined.
“Preach the good news to all creation..” are the words we read from the Gospel of Mark. That is what is taking place here in Frio River Baptist Association. God’s Word will not be silenced. Praise the Lord!
How much longer will this isolation period go on? No one knows. But as ministers of the Lord, we must keep going. I recall that in
Hebrews 12:1 we read the words
“let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Maybe this period of isolation is what we need to persevere through at this point in time. Just a thought.
God’s ways are higher than ours, as
Isaiah 55:9 states, and our part is to continue trusting Him. He will see us through, and His Name will be lifted up. Keep up the good work, pastors, staff members and lay people. God is still with us and He is still on His throne. Keep praying for each other during this time.
Loren Fast, your DOM