In response to the pandemic, evangelists are retooling traditional crusades to be safe and effective during the pandemic.
After cancelling eight international events and several festivals across the United States, Evangelist Richard Hamlet has used Zoom through a partnership with the Global Ministries Foundation to connect with people in approximately 20 countries. Though not the nearly the 100 countries he is used to traveling, Hamlet remains grateful for his opportunities to still be able to share the gospel.
“It’s hard to preach when there’s nobody in the room and you’re looking at a camera, but the Lord is so gracious and we’re seeing many people come to Christ, we believe, through hearing messages and responding with trust in Christ,” he said.
Having a similar experience as Hamlet, Evangelist Greg Laurie of Harvest Crusades commented that his organization “set a goal of seeing 100,000 coming to Christ in 2020. We hoped to accomplish that through three crusades and other outreach plans…But we had to postpone all of that.”
Retooling Harvest Crusades efforts, Laurie launched an online crusade called, ‘A Rush of Hope.’
In response to this online initiative, Laurie said, “With our weekly Sunday service online and this film, we saw over 150,000 people make professions to follow Christ.”
Other crusaders like Will Graham, vice president and associate evangelist of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), postponed five festivals in 2020. Opting for a hybrid model instead to be in compliance with local health regulations, BGEA according to Graham remains committed to identifying the best platforms to preach the gospel.
By shortening the length of his messages from 30 minutes to 15 minutes, Graham and BGEA have been able to keep its broadcast at just 30 minutes which it hopes will help them reach younger audiences and retain the attention of seniors.
Commenting on a trend he’s observed among viewers, Graham said, “I don’t get excited about Facebook views. What I get excited about is when they actually go to our website…What we’re seeing is if people will watch it on willgrahamlive.com, or even our YouTube channels through the Billy Graham channels, that’s where people are actually making decisions.”
As the church continues to innovate at this pivotal moment, the optimistic outlook of evangelists and their willingness to serve remains inspiring.
Evangelist Greg Laurie of Harvest Crusades said, “Having people in our sanctuaries is not the only way to reach them. Jesus did not say that the whole world should go to church. He said the church should go to the whole world.”
“When the dust settles on all of this, the new normal may be quite different than the way it was before, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. As Christians, we need to think creatively and find new ways to reach people with the Gospel.”
Source: Baptist Press